Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Seasons greetings

Here's wishing you a very happy Christmas and a wonderful new year.

Marie & John xx

Monday, November 25, 2013

Black and blue

"You may get a little bruise", said the nurse....


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Grandads Army

Colonel Montmorency who was in Calcutta in ninety-two
Emerged from his retirement for the War
He wasn't very pleased with all he heard and all he saw
But whatever he felt, he tightened his belt and organised a Corps

Poor Colonel Montmorency thought considering all the wars he'd fought
The Home Guard was his job to do or die
But after days and weeks and years, bravely drying his many tears
He wrote the following letter to the Minister of Supply

Could you please oblige us with a Bren gun?
Or failing that, a hand grenade will do
We've got some ammunition, in a rather damp condition
And Major Huss has a arquebus that was used at Waterloo

With the Vicar's stirrup pump, a pitchfork and a stave
It's rather hard to guard an aerodrome
So if you can't oblige us with a Bren gun
The Home Guard might as well go home

From Could you please oblige us with a bren gun by Noel Coward

In order to sign up and serve in the first world war, a man had to be between eighteen and thirty-nine. The same rules existed at the start of the second world war, so very few men could serve in both. There are, however many exceptions. Naturally the maximum age limit didn't apply to men already in the army, so nearly all the senior officers in the second war had been junior officers in the first. This applied to both sides. The German General; Heinz Guderian, had suffered in the trenches and developed the concept of mobile warfare, blitzkreig to prevent another trench stalemate. And many merchant seamen form the second war had seen navy service, both Royal and Merchant during the first.

So what of the rest ?

It may seem incredible to us today, but many of those who had seen the horrors of one war were willing to sign up again, if anyone would have them. You see, the television programme Dads Army is closer to the truth that you think. If you are living within the old County Durham boundaries then you might be able to find out for yourself, because the County Durham records of the Local Defence Volunteers (LDV), which later became the Home Guard have been made available on-line by the National Archives.

I've mentioned my grandfather before, and of how he was a regular soldier, wounded at Ypres in 1915 and how he ended up serving, first in the Tyne-Tees Coastal Defence force, and later the Army Service Corps and how he made his home in Sunderland. Sadly his army records are among the many lost what the warehouse was bombed in 1940, but I recently found his LDV enrolment papers from June 1940.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Light at the end of the tunnel

The end of the tunnel will be reached on Friday 11th April 2014, because that's the day that I retire !!!

Yes – after nearly three decades of putting as much as I could afford into a pension, payout day is near. It's going to take a couple of months to get everything sorted with annuities and suchlike, and I can't do anything irrevocable until then. I need to give three months notice at work, so I will be doing that just after Christmas, and retiring on 11th April.

As you can imagine it's a bit step, and one that sneaked up on us. In my profession (software developer) years ago it was commonplace move from job to job quite a lot. At one time I had five jobs in two years. Four of my employers no longer exist. So I made up my mind that it was safer to make my own pension provisions. Everything was going well until Gordon Brown all but destroyed our pension system. I was on target to retire very young, but it was not to be.

I just kept making the payments and hoping for the best, wondering whether I would actually be able to afford to retire even at 65. But here I am, 59 years old and ready to retire. I'm delighted, and as you might expect, Marie is doubly excited. She's ticking off the days.

Roll on April.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

You couldn't make it up

Many of you will know that I drive an Alfa Romeo, and have done so since 1987. I'm currently driving my seventh.

I know, I know. They have a reputation for poor reliability. Generally speaking I haven't found this to be true. In all that time I've only had three problems. One was a failed starter motor (if you ever need a starter motor for an alfasud or an alfa 33 I've got one in the garage). Another was a transaxle problem, and the third occurred a couple of months ago.

My current car just passed it's tenth birthday. I didn’t mean to keep it so long, but with just 44,000 miles on it, it's still in good condition. Probably better than some I've bought in the past. Then it stopped. On the way home from work. After maybe half an hour I got it going. It then refused to start after I came out of the Pizza place one Friday night. Had to get he RAC to tow me home. The local dealer claimed to have fixed it, but three days later it stopped in the outside lane of a dual carriageway during rush hour. Same RAC man. Thankfully he saw the funny side of it.

This is where Alfa Romeo are let down. The dealers. The car wasn't safe to drive, so I asked the service manager at my local dealer for advice. He took the view that my problems were no concern of his. He did this in a manner that was aggressive and intimidating. Clearly he doesn't understand that he is the public face of the brand. I ended up paying serious money to get someone to put the car on a truck and deliver it to the dealer, where it would have a new sensor fitted, and the annual service carried out. Except that they forgot to do the service.

On top of this, I spoke to the sales people, and was quoted “four to five months” if I wanted to buy a new car.

So yesterday I bought this.


Monday, September 30, 2013

Long time no hear

Sorry there hasn't been any blogs for a while but there hasn't really been anything to report.

As I mentioned in the previous post I was hoping to be discharged from hospital the following day. Everything was going great for me to leave then three hours before we were due to catch our train my wound started to bleed quite heavily. Agnes, my nurse, called Professor Cobb who came immediately. It was now 50/50 whether I would be able to go home that day.

The Prof asked what time our train was. 1.30pm, but as we required assistance getting on the train, we had to be at Kings Cross twenty five minutes before hand.

He had to dash into theatre so instructed Agnes to put a pressure dressing on my hip. He would then come back to see me around the time we would be due to leave to say either yes or no.

True to his word, still in full theatre scrubs, he came back at 12.45pm and checked the wound again. He would discharge me on one condition. I had to let my body heal slowly so had to promise to take it extremely easy at all times. His departing words were he did not want to see me on the ward again.....

We saw the Prof on Thursday as it had been six weeks since my last op. This time around it was a real hard slog as I'd been banned from doing pretty much everything. I was allowed to put some weight on my hip but I had to wear a full leg splint to stop my knee from bending so walking was extremely difficult. Bending and stretching were severely restricted this time too.

Still, he gave me some good news. My hard work has paid off and my hip is fine. Whilst I'm desperate to get out and learn how to walk again I’ve got to take it really easy and use Wizzy more than stickies as he doesn’t want my shoulders and arms overdoing things - he doesn’t know that I do boxing so they’re a lot stronger than they look....  However if I behave myself then I should see a big improvement in my walking by the summer. 

There was though one bit of bad news. I'm still not allowed to climb stairs. Whilst there's no chance of the hip popping out the Prof is concerned the muscles aren't strong enough to support my hip so wants me to slowly build them up. 

I go back and see him in January so I'm hoping he'll say yes then. 


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Deja Vu

When I saw Professor Cobb on the 2nd August for my post-op appointment I was expecting him to say that everything was fine with my hip.

I'd been really good in not bending or stretching so was shocked when, after looking at the x-rays, he said my hip was in fact dislocated and had been for about three weeks.

Normally when a replacement hip dislocates the pain is excruciating. However I never felt a thing, which was why it came as shock. The Prof reassured me that I hadn't done anything wrong it was just one of those awful things.

So I'm back in the King Edward VII Hospital having it put back into place. The op took place yesterday at 7pm (I was first on the Prof's evening list) and he's really confident that it won't pop out again.

I've been up walking, and although I have to wear a leg splint to stop my knee from bending as this could weaken my hip otherwise, I am able to put weight on my leg for the first time in four years.....

The Prof had hoped I'd only be in a couple of nights so I've got everything crossed that I can go home tomorrow afternoon.

Here's hoping.......


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Six weeks

Gosh, I can't believe it's six week today since I had my hip op. Where has the time gone?

Nothing really has happened since I last blogged - hence the reason why things have been so quite.

I've been keeping myself amused with plenty of hand sewing. You can read all about what I've been doing over at my new blog  Gertie's makes and bakes

We go back down to see the Professor next week and I'm hoping he will be pleased with my progress, especially since I've been behaving myself and doing what I'm told (so unlike me!!). 

I know there's a long road ahead - for a start I still can't put any weight on my leg for at least another three months - but fingers crossed it'll be worth it in the end.


Monday, June 24, 2013

Back home

Just a really quick blog to say I'm home from hospital. We got back from London on Saturday and am slowly finding my feet - excuse the pun !!!!

Will do a proper update soon.


Friday, June 21, 2013

Time flies by

Time can really drag when you're in hospital so I went armed with lots of things to keep me busy as being bored in hospital is horrible.

I brought with me my laptop, my Kindle Fire, a couple of magazines, two needlepoint cushions (you can see one of them over at my craft blog 'Gertie's makes and bakes'), a Silversea needlepoint glasses case I got free when we were on our cruise last year, a couple of small Christmas card cross stitching and my big cross stitch project, a baby tiger cub.

Ok, it does seem a bit much given that the Prof said I should only be in for about two weeks. However days in hospitals are very long - they are if you're an NHS patient anyway. Last time the day would start at 6am !!!!

Here at the private King Edward no-one comes to wake you up at 6am. You can stay in bed for as long as you like (in fact it's positivity encouraged). The longest I stayed in bed was until 10.45am (Mary my nurse decided I looked tired so made me stay in bed). Once I'd been washed, dressed and had some physio, it was lunch time.

Then there's the afternoon nap from 1.30pm till 3pm. Another round of physio to follow and before I know it, it's dinner time. No sooner is that over then they're asking when you'd like to settle down for the night.

As well as all that the staff are so friendly here that there's always someone popping in for a chat.

Consequently I've hardly had time to touch any of the things I brought with me. Still, I'll have plenty of time to do them, and more besides, given that I'm going to be laid up for several months.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Food, glorious, food

The last time I was admitted to hospital for my hip problem I spent eight very long weeks there.

The first couple of weeks I was pretty poorly as I was recovering from blood poisoning caused by the hip infections, so food was the last thing on my mind.

Once the infected hip was removed and the IV antibiotics started to work the hospital hoped that my appetite would pick up. Sadly it didn't. 

A dietitian put me on high calorie, multi-vitamin and mineral milk shake drinks twice a day to try and get me to eat again. If anything it did the complete opposite as they were disgusting !!!!!

Sweets, crisps, etc were banned on the ward. However they made an exception as they were desperate for me to eat something, anything, so John was able to bring in contraband.

I'm not a fussy eater. I love quite a lot of different kinds of food - Italian, Chinese, Indian, French, a little Mexican as long as it's not too hot. The problem is I hate meat and two veg dinners. Always have done. That was the majority of what the Sunderland Royal hospital served.

The hospital dietitian was so desperate for me to eat something that I ended up having meals taken from special diets - Halal, Kosha, gluten free - as they were anything but bland. I even had meals off the children's menu!!!!

Meals here at the King Edward VII hospital are a little different. Each morning, just after breakfast, you are given three menu sheets to complete (your 'homework' as one of the food servers calls it).

The first sheet is for dinner that evening. You get a choice of three starters, three 'salad' main and three or four hot main dishes. To accompany the hot mains are various choices of side dishes too.

For dessert there's at least four options plus a huge variety of ice cream and sorbets, and to end, six difference choices of cheese and biscuits. 

Breakfast can be continental, full English or if you're hungry, a mixture of both !!! For health and safety reasons egg yolks must be cook until it's hard. So no soft boiled eggs or runny yokes are allowed.

Lunch is pretty much the same as dinner. Instead of starters you get the option of jacket potatoes or freshly made omelettes with various toppings. There's several hot or cold main options, with desserts similar to the dinner menu.

If you just want a light lunch then you can order a variety of sandwiches and baguettes. 

When John visits he's able to have meals with me as they have 'guest menus' which have similar options to patients.

For dinner tonight I had chicken liver pate for starters; grilled turkey escalopes on a bed of creamy mashed potato, grilled asparagus and a creamy mushroom sauce, with a side dish of mixed salad for my main; and a lemon cheesecake with a biscuit crumb topping for dessert.
I thought you might like to see a photo of how it arrived.You certainly don't get this on the NHS.
Oh and before you ask it was yummy !!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

On one condition

I'm pretty sure that the Prof lives at the hospital as he pops in at all hours. This morning he arrived at 7.20am.

The nurses were concerned about my wound oozing a little and that my hip appeared to swollen. He had a quick look then said everything was fine and nothing to worry about.

I asked him about going home as we'd had a chat about it on Sunday. Originally the plan had been for me to stay for two weeks. However by Sunday I was doing so well he couldn't see any reason why I couldn't be discharged Wednesday.

Whilst I would've loved to go home then, sadly John can't get down to London on Wednesday. No problem said the Prof, just stay until the weekend.

I didn't want to build up my hopes as we'd been here many times before when I was last in
hospital, only for something to happen and I couldn't leave. Hence the reason why I asked again.

The Prof's reply was still the same - this weekend. However there's one condition. I must take it easy. Normally with a hip replacement you can't put much weight bearing effort on the hip for six weeks. I'm no allowed for at least three/four months.

Still it's a small price to pay to get my leg back.


Monday, June 17, 2013

One small step for Neil.....

......but a big one for me.

The physio's decided to try me walking up and down stairs this afternoon and I passed with  flying colours. Yeah !!!!

Professor Cobb is really pleased with how thing's are progressing, which is good news. He called in this morning with his two registrars who help with the op. They wanted to see how their handiwork was doing.

Everyone, from the domestics to Matron, is so friendly and helpful. The food is superb and they even have a wine list!!!!!


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Stepping out - Moving up

Another day, and another step along the road. Yesterday Marie was walking with a frame. Today she was walking with her old familiar crutches. With warnings from the Physio about taking things easy ringing in her ears she walked to the bathroom, removing the need to be washed in bed.

In other news, the Professor is very pleased with how things are going, and there is a possibility that we'll be home within a week. Provided Marie agrees not to overdo things ...


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Stepping out

This morning the physiotherapists arrived to get Marie out of bed. They then got her walking along the corridor, then sat her in a chair. This went down very well, as Marie hates lying in bed. You can probably see from the smile that walking was good too.

All in all, everyone is very pleased with her progress. Her consultant, Professor Cobb pops in at odd times and expresses his satisfaction. Sometimes it seems as though he never sleeps. He performed the operation at 4:30 on Thursday, and called in to see Marie afterwards. Then he was there before 8am the next day. He called in as we were having dinner yesterday (yes - I'm allowed to eat dinner with Marie in her room !!) then called in just before 10am today.

Marie's room is right above the hospital main entrance, and the flagpole is accessed through her window. At 7:25 this morning, a man came in and took down the hospitals own flag and replaced it with the Union Flag in honour of the Queen's birthday parade.

Once she is used to sitting again, Marie says she will start blogging herself.


Friday, June 14, 2013

Marie's adventure in the Big City

As many of you will know, Marie has been in need of a new hip for some time now (if you want the full story, see The Joint Journals in the sidebar). To cut a long story short, after four years of searching we finally found someone with the skills to do the job. Marie had her operation late yesterday afternoon, and everything is looking good so far. She is in the King Edward VII hospital in London, and it's all rather grand. This is Marie just after afternoon tea arrived.

More updates to follow.


Saturday, June 01, 2013

An emotional rollercoaster

It’s been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster recently.

No sooner had we put my Mam’s house up for sale, we got a buyer for it less than 24 hours after the ‘for sale’ sign went up. It’s been all hands on deck to clear out my Mam’s things. In the end we had to get a skip to get rid of a lot of stuff as there’s only so much you can give to a charity shop. It was upsetting to see my Mam’s house, the only family home I’ve know, end up as rubbish.

It was quite upsetting saying goodbye to the house as not only was it the only family home I’d known, but it was the last link to my Mam.

In February I mentioned that we’d been to London for an appointment and hinted that it may be good news. I can finally review that it is wonderful news.

The appointment was at the King Edward VII Hospital, (the Queen’s hospital no less.....) with an orthopedic consultant (he’s also consultant to the Queen....) who has yes to giving me a new hip. Given that we’d been told on several occasions that the damage was too severe to operate, Professor Cobb has studied the scans and x-rays, and after performing the actual operation using 3D imaging, is confident he can – in his own words – ‘re-attach my leg’.

The operation and stay in hospital isn’t cheap. You could buy a decent car for what it’s costing us. However if it’s a choice between walking and not walking, then there’s no contest.

My op takes place on June 13th and the Prof is confident that I’ll only be in hospital for about two weeks. As the hospital has wi-fi I’m planning to keep a day-by-day account here on the blog.

Watch this space for more news.....


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Rain rain go away

We had to go to the bank yesterday. Thankfully Natwest open some branches on Saturday's as we can’t get there during the week.

At first we were going to visit the branch in Sunderland city centre as it had been a long time since we’d been into Sunderland. However as rain had been forecasted for Saturday John suggested we go to the bank in the Metro Centre instead.

I don’t know what it was like elsewhere around the country but we had torrential rain during Friday night/Saturday morning.  When we went into the kitchen yesterday morning there was a huge pool of water on one of the work tops. The rain had somehow managed to get in through the kitchen roof tiles, through the two false ceilings then through a gap in the ceiling cladding. 

John managed to find where the water was coming in from so put a huge bowl on top of the kitchen unit to catch the drips.

When we did eventually set off to the Metro Centre the rain had finally eased off. We were just about to join the motorway at Washington when we met a rather long queue of traffic heading north – the way we were going.

As that stretch of the motorway can be a little slippy when wet we just presumed that drivers were being cautious. It appeared not so as the queue of stationary traffic went on and on and on and on well into the distance.

We were fighting time as the bank closed at 1pm so every second counted.  Half an hour later, driving at a snail’s pace, we eventually found the cause of the four mile tailback. A pool of water about a car’s width on the road.....

When we got to the Metro Centre we did a mad slalom Wizzy* dash to the bank only to find out that they had changed their banking hours to 3pm on a Saturday.

Ah well!!!!


*For those new to the blog Wizzy is the name of my wheelchair

Monday, April 22, 2013

Back in blog land

Sorry there’s been no blog for ages. We’ve just been really busy with things to do with my mam – her funeral, sorting through her things, putting her house up for sale, etc. It hasn’t been easy but once her house is sold then we can finally move on.

The weekend before last we had a well earned weekend away with good friends as Chris was having a party for his special birthday.

It was lovely to catch up with them as we hadn’t seen them since Jenny’s birthday in August. Also at the party were Garry and Karen who we hadn’t seen for a couple of years so we had a lot of catching up to do with them.


Saturday, March 09, 2013

Sad news

My Mam died early on Thursday morning.

It was very peaceful and she was in no pain.


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Up's and down's

Sorry there’s been no blogs for a couple of weeks, only things have been a little up and down here.

The up:  We went down to London for an appointment. I can’t say too much at the moment but we’re just keeping our fingers crossed that it’s a ‘yes’....

The down: There’s no easy way of saying this so I’ll just say it as it is. We found out that my mam has terminal cancer. She hasn’t been very well for a while so had a couple of scans and x-rays. They found cancer in her lungs, liver, stomach and lymph nodes. We had an idea that it might be the ‘C’ word but didn’t think it was that severe.

Fate can be very cruel as it was practically 10 years to the day that we found out that my dad had terminal cancer.


Friday, February 01, 2013

There's a frog in my throat

I’ve got laryngitis!!!!

At first I thought it was just a sore throat from the lurgy that we both had. However as the lurgy disappeared, my sore throat didn’t. I developed a horrible cough and started doing frog impersonations...

Our GP practice is very strict on handing out antibiotics so I’ve just got to let Nature take its course.

Croak, croak, croak, croak (that’s have a good weekend.....).


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Well note

Sorry for the lack of blogs but we've both had the lurgy.

John got it first and spent the best part of four days in bed. He then very kindly passed it onto me – payback time as I gave him the lurgy in November….

He had to make a rare trip to the doctors as his chest wasn’t too good and whenever he moved the room spun so much that he was losing his balance and throwing up !!!!

John was diagnosed with a chest infection and viral labyrinthitis (inner ear infection). The doctor gave some tablets and a sick note for two weeks, but said if he felt well enough he could go back to work before the two weeks was up.

A week into his sick note John felt well enough to go back to work so advised his boss that he would be in the following day. He got an apologetic email from his boss saying unless he got a note from his GP stating he was fit to work, he isn’t allowed to return until his sick note is up. 

His sick note runs out on Wednesday, however he can’t get an appointment to see a doctor, any doctor, until Thursday.

So, although John wants to return to work and his boss wants him to return to work, he can’t until Thursday. Madness !!!!!


Sunday, January 06, 2013

Good bye Christmas, hello Easter

On Thursday we went to Morrisons for our usual weekly shop and one of the first things you come to when you enter the store is their promotions bakery display.

Running up to the festive season they were promoting all things Christmas - mince pies, stollen, etc. On Thursday the entire display was filled with just one kind of item - hot cross buns !!!!!

Further down the store in their Seasonal aisle it was good bye Christmas selection boxes and hello Easter eggs.

Before we know it, it'll be so long 'In my Easter Bonnet' and hello 'White Christmas'.

Hot cross bun anyone....