Tuesday, June 22nd 2010

Escape!

It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was writing about my last evening out with my carers and yet here we are again a whole month later. What amazes me, and I’ll probably put a hex on it now, is that every time we go out the sun is shining and it’s a glorious evening! That’s three out of three! Of course now that I’ve said it we’ll probably be walking over to the Portsmouth Arms next month in torrential rain wearing ponchos whilst the girls interlock their umbrellas over our heads like Roman centurions going into battle in tortoise formation smile_regular.

Performing the various transfers between my office chair, stairlift, and wheelchair were expertly handled by Jan and Alli. Fortunately I am still able to (just about) load bear so that does make it a little bit easier. After our customary photo shoot outside the house we took a leisurely walk over to the Portsmouth Arms. Well I say ‘leisurely’ but Jan who was once again my trusty chauffeur (with Alli riding shotgun) only has two modes: walking or standing still. Walking mode is like baby gazelle speed and it wasn’t long before Vanessa and Debbie who were the tail-end Charlies were left far behind.

The lovely weather was proving popular and there were plenty of people outside the Portsmouth Arms enjoying a drink under the colourful sun umbrellas. Once again it was an enjoyable evening with fine food (I had scampi and chips for dinner and Eton mess for dessert) and plenty of laughs. What was particularly nice this time was that every one of my carers was able to make it. So a big thanks to Debbie once again for organising it, and to Ann, Alli, Jan and Vanessa for giving me a lovely evening and allowing me to escape the confines of the house for a few brief hours.

We caught one of the guards having an afternoon siesta and made quick work of tying him up before he could raise the alarm.

Not all the guards were sleepy and this feisty little devil thought he could block our escape, but the sun was shining and the lovely weather was calling to us, so through sheer desperation and weight of numbers we managed to overpower him and tie him up in one of his own straitjackets. That'll teach him!

With Debbie, Jan and Vanessa

With Debbie, Jan and Vanessa

With Jan and Vanessa

With Debbie

With Jan and Debbie

With Vanessa and Debbie

With Jan

With Jan

With Alli

With Alli, Debbie and Vanessa

With Ann

With Ann

With Vanessa, Jan and Ann

Mark

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Monday, May 24th 2010

An evening out with my carers

Hard to believe that it’s already been a month since I escaped the confines of the house for a few brief hours, but here we are and Debbie has once again organised another jailbreak. Amazingly we were just as blessed with good weather as we were last time with the sun beating down from a beautiful clear blue sky.

Although I’m always apprehensive about using the stairlift these days I needn’t have worried as I was in very good hands with Alli and Jan handling me at the top and bottom of the stairlift and into the wheelchair. They made it look so simple; I guess partly from the wealth of experience they have, and partly from the fact that I’m not exactly a heavyweight, especially these days.

Jan was my trusty chauffeur again as we took a leisurely stroll over to the Portsmouth Arms for our evening meal. You know I have to say that after being confined to the same surroundings for any length of time, I seem to have a heightened sense of awareness to the change in my surroundings. It really is surprising how many things you notice that you probably wouldn’t do if something became a regular occurrence. There was birdsong everywhere, both in the trees and in the hedgerows. Overhead a flock of birds flew by. The air was tinged with the smell of fresh cut grass. There was dappled light shining through the leaves, wild poppies growing by the roadside and even a few rabbits scampering around on the open grass. It really was a lovely evening to be out enjoying the fresh air and I savoured every moment of it. In years gone by on an evening like this I would have been out on my bike cycling down the country lanes and making the most of the last few hours of sunshine. But although such things are now just a memory I can still enjoy and appreciate the outdoors when my kind-hearted carers band together on occasions such as this.

The Portsmouth Arms looked lovely bathed in early evening light with people making the most of it and taking their drinks outside to sit under the sun umbrellas. We were lucky and were able to secure the same round table inside as last time which was situated in a little alcove with easy access for my wheelchair. Whilst the girls were tucking into larger meals I was quite content with a smaller portion of fried egg, sauté potatoes and ham followed by a rich dark chocolate mousse for desert. The whole evening was an enjoyable experience with good conversation, plenty of laughs and fine food. It was so nice to be able to eat with people in a sociable setting for a change. The time seemed to just fly by as it always seems to do when you’re enjoying yourself, and soon it was time to return home before my wheelchair turned back into a pumpkin. Once again Alli and Jan seemed to have no problem handling me and getting me safely into bed. Interestingly though I still seem to be able to weight bear after sitting in a wheelchair for 3 1/2 hours although I did need their help standing up.

So another night out has come and gone and already I’m looking forward to the next one which Debbie is busy organising. Hopefully we’ll be able to entice even more people to come along. Just before signing off I would like to say a big thank you to Debbie, Alli, Ann and Jan for a really enjoyable evening and for taking good care of me. It was lovely to see you all together.

The guards were on a heightened sense of alert after receiving a tipoff that there was going to be another jailbreak! 🙂

With Jan

With Jan

With Jan

With Alli & Debbie

With Debbie

With Alli, Jan & Debbie

With Alli

With Debbie, Jan (yes the tree really is growing out of her head! 🙂 ) & Ann

With Debbie, Alli & Ann

Mark

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Monday, April 26th 2010

An evening out with the girls

It was only a matter of time before I found a weakness in the security systems that were holding me prisoner in my own house. For weeks now I’ve been carefully monitoring the patrol patterns of my carers guards, looking for a loophole that would gain me my freedom. I’d made friends with a few of the guards who had taken sympathy on me and together we had meticulously planned my jailbreak! Tonight would be the night. Jan had cut the power to the perimeter fence, spiked the patrol dog’s Boneo, and had the wheelchair on standby, whilst Debbie and Ann quietly smuggled me down the stairs past the guard towers just as the searchlights were pointing the other way…

On a more serious note I am very pleased to say that after more than a quarter of a year I have finally managed to get out of the house! Debbie had kindly arranged for me to have a meal out at the Portsmouth Arms in the company of some of my carers. The idea was that it would not only serve to get me some fresh air and out of the house, but also to see how difficult it would be for a couple of competent carers to physically handle me on and off the stairlift and into the wheelchair.

I’d been both excited and a little apprehensive. Excited for obvious reasons but apprehensive because of how bad my legs were becoming and whether they would be of any use by the end of the evening. Even stepping back onto the stairlift at the top of the stairs for the first time in months was a little worrying for me because of the unpredictability of my balance and strength left in my legs. It was not something I would attempt to try anymore on my own; in fact even walking past the stairwell each day causes me concern. But with the reassurance of my carers standing close by and making sure I came to no harm I felt confident enough to attempt it on my own. Who would have thought there would come a day in my life when I would be frightened to go up and down the stairs!

Things are a bit more difficult at the bottom of the stairs because the stairlift seat doesn’t rotate like it does at the top of the landing and it’s a bit more cramped. But with the help of Jan and Debbie they were able to help me stand up, shuffle sideways, and lower me into the waiting wheelchair which had been brought as close as possible. Phew, down and safe! Once downstairs I took a quick glimpse round at the surroundings that had become strangely unfamiliar and then we were on our way down the ramp and into the fresh air.

It’s amazing you know what we take for granted. For any able-bodied person leaving the house and walking down the street is no big deal, but just imagine for a moment what it must feel like if you’ve been staring at plasterboard walls and computer screens since the start of the year. I felt like a sponge; I soaked in the sights and sounds around me. It was a beautiful sunny evening, the sun was bathing the garden in a beautiful golden light backlighting all the spring bulbs and shrubs. Birdsong was in the air and the sky was a beautiful shade of blue. It felt good to be out smelling fresh air and feeling the warmth of the sun on my face. It felt good to be alive.

The Portsmouth Arms is about a 30 minute walk from my house, or at least it was at the pace we were travelling, which was fine by me as I had more time to soak up the atmosphere around me. Jan became my trusty chauffeur whilst Ann and Debbie were the tail-end Charlies! The Portsmouth Arms, although not an old pub, has been built in a traditional style with a lovely thatched roof (and the next time we go I must remember to get someone to take some photos of it!). Inside it’s all stone floors and wooden beams. We found ourselves a nice little alcove and enjoyed a meal and drink around a candlelit table. Very nice.

Back home and all the transfer and handling went much smoother than I had anticipated. The girls worked well as a team and had the glide about chair parked up close to the top of the landing so as to minimise the amount of time I would need to stand up. In fact that was the one thing that really surprised me this evening. Despite sitting in the wheelchair for over three hours I was still able to bear my own weight and walk to the bathroom, something I had not been able to do back at the start of the year when I had been in the wheelchair for a similar amount of time.

I’d like to say a big thank you to Debbie for organising the evening, to Jan for being my wheelchair attendant, and to all the girls for taking such good care of me and for giving me the opportunity to enjoy a night out in good company. I really enjoyed all the laughs! Hopefully we’ll be able to organise another one before too long.

I’ll leave you with a few pictures that were taken shortly after our successful jailbreak smile_regular.

With Debbie and Ann

With Debbie and Ann

With Jan

With Jan

Mark

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