Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Week 7: April 19th-25th, Easter Visit

For an explanation of this project and blog please click here.
Click on photos to enlarge or see slideshow

Saturday April 24th-Monday April 26th: Easter Visit

My parents arrived for the Easter Weekend. We are a very close family so it was really great to see them.
My sister also came for Easter Sunday. This is unusual as she lives a hectic lifestyle as a freelance classical musician and is usually touring the country.
The great news is that I was well enough to go out for lunch again with the family. Things really are going well at the moment. That is now two trips out in little over a week.
I have to admit that Easter Monday however was spent recovering in a little heap!

Tuesday April 22nd- Wednesday April 23rd

The weather had turned cold and I was still extremely tired from the weekend, so had to stay indoors. I spent my time catching up on my online astronomy course, although I was less then impressed with the subject material of Moon rocks. I didn't like geology at school and it turns out I still don't like it now!

Thursday April 24th

The weather had turned sunny again today and I was feeling much better, so I made the most of it and went for a long walk. It is striking how much the trees and flowers are changing now. Everywhere is bright green and it is very different to just a month ago.

Green Lane

Intermediate Green Avenue (Compare to March 12th, Week 1)

Friday April 25th

Today was a hospital appointment with my gastroenterologist. Typically it tipped it down so we got drenched getting the wheelchair in and out the car both here and at the hospital!
I had been ill during the night with, as it happens, gastric symptoms, so was not feeling at my best. Still, the appointment didn't take long and I was able to get back home quite quickly. The appointment was routine. Basically keep doing what we're doing and keep an eye on things.

However I deteriorated a lot during the day. I dragged myself to bed before 8pm. I was awake most of the night with nausea, headache, joint pain, dizziness, episodes of full blown vertigo, twitching, jerking, severe cramps and gastric symptoms.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Week 6: April 12th-18th, A Day to Remember

For an explanation of this project and blog please click here.
Click on photos to enlarge or see slideshow

Saturday April 12th: A Day to Remember

Today was a brilliant day.
I went out for lunch to the pub with a friend. This, for me, is a very rare and special occasion. I am seldom well enough to do so. The last time I went out to the pub was during the Christmas holidays in December, almost 4 months ago!

The pub is nice. It is fully accessible (including a disabled loo, which, as disabled readers will know, is a rarity). The food was expensive but good. I had steak and treated myself to a hot chocolate brownie for dessert. (Well, if I'm going to finally manage to eat out, I may as well make the most of it while I'm there!)

We then came home and I collapsed in a heap on the daybed. After I'd recovered somewhat we watched the second hobbit film which I had been waiting for months to see (even ignoring my epilepsy, I can't sit up through a whole film at the cinema).

All in all, a wonderful day to remember.

To the pub!

I can't believe I'm here!

Sunday April 13th

As expected I was too stiff and sore to move today after sitting up at the pub to eat. Despite the beautiful weather the day had to be spent indoors, hiding under the duvet with the heated blanket on, trying to get the pain to subside a little.
Still, all was not lost. I enjoyed watching some episodes of Castle, playing games, and starting a cross stitch for my little niece in Australia. I intend to finish it for Christmas. It was a good day.

Monday April 14th

Sitting up was still painful today but I was able to force myself to leave the house. The weather is absolutely gorgeous at the moment. Mind you, I still feel the cold. I feel very much the odd person out as I am still wearing my winter coat and gloves whereas all around me people are enjoying the sun in T-shirts. Of course it is very different when you are sitting in an electric wheelchair without moving as opposed to walking, not to mention a degree of windchill! My concession today was to remove my hat.

My photo today is of the Tree Trio I took a few weeks ago. Much to my surprise I came across a funfair setting up around it! There must be something planned for Easter weekend.

Funfair around the Tree Trio

Tuesday April 15th

I was struggling quite a bit today with quite high pain levels. I also discovered that I'd forgotten to recharge my wheelchair! This isn't too much of a problem. Roadrunner (outdoor wheelchair) should be capable of doing 24 miles (albeit on a smooth flat surface). So even if I forget to recharge him a couple of times, I should still be able to take him out a few days running, since the longest walk I do is 4 miles long.
Still, I decided I would only go on a short walk today and even then, had to really drag myself out kicking and screaming. I'm trying to convince myself it was a good idea, but given I'm still cold over an hour after getting back and snuggling under a duvet, part of me is still sulking!

At least it was a beautiful day. Most trees are now in blossom. This one is near a church I go past.

P.S. I have a habit of naming inanimate objects. This has included my bow when I still did archery, and my clarinet and my saxophone when I was still able to do music.

Church Cherry Tree in Blossom

Wednesday April 16th

Very sore, sick and shaky today so had to stay indoors. As I've mentioned before this doesn't mean it was a boring or bad day, but I am disappointed to miss the good weather.

Thursday April 17th

URGH. And possibly yuck. Nearly collapsed while standing in the kitchen. Although I have an indoor electric wheelchair I try to walk as much as I can. So some of the time I use the wheelchair and some of the time I walk. Whether I use the chair varies considerably throughout the day and also on how far I am going (eg across a room or all the way down the hallway). Today I obviously misjudged how well I was feeling!

It goes without saying that I was confined to the house today. Anyway to cheer me up here is a great pic of the tree outside my window which has finally blossomed. It blossoms once a year for two weeks and looks magnificent. The rest of the time it is boring! This was taken yesterday as the evening sun was shining on it.

Evening sun on red blossom

Friday April 18th

I'm writing this on Thursday.  I have family coming at the weekend for Easter. This means I will need to rest in preparation, particularly as I haven't felt all that well the past couple of days. Unfortunately this also means no wheelchair walk. On the positive side I'm hoping the rest will allow me to recover enough to have a good weekend.

End of Week 6
Click here to go to Week 7.
Click here to go to Week 5.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Week 5: April 5th-April 11th, The Twig

For an explanation of this project and blog please click here.

(Click on photos to enlarge and for slideshow)

Saturday-Sunday April 5th/6th

I was still feeling a bit "urgh" from the 5 days of seizures but by now well enough to see friends without fear of having one in front of them.
A friend came to stay for the weekend and we went and had dinner at a friend's house.
I should perhaps add that this actually just involves me transferring from my daybed to their sofa via a short car journey, where I lie down with my heated blanket. I then don't move again. We eat on laptrays so I don't have to sit up.
This was all good fun and I got the chance to briefly see my god daughter.

Monday April 7th

Ok, so *I* felt well enough to go out, but the heavens opened. Now, I may be keen to get back outside, but I'm not THAT keen...

Tuesday April 8th

The sun had finally returned and my health was looking up so I was at last able to get back out.  It is currently the Easter holidays and so the playground was fully of children making the most of the weather. Note that we finally have some greenery on the trees!

Holiday at the Playground

Wednesday April 09th: The Twig

This was not the most successful of my wheelchair walks!
A small but thick twig lodged itself between the wheel and the mainframe of the wheelchair. I had to "limp" to the nearest park bench to try and pry it out.
This took about ten minutes and ended with me almost lying on the ground. After I finished I couldn't get back up. URGH!
I eventually did heave myself back into my wheelchair but hurt both legs doing so.
Obviously I stayed calm and collected and at no point did any swearing occur. ;)

I did manage to take a pic of this tree in blossom which is only visible from a single point on the Common. It is completely hidden from any other angle.

White Blossom

Thursday April 10th

Today, thanks to yesterday's rolling around and trying to get up and down off the ground, I was stiff and shaky which seems a contradiction in terms, but there you go. I was therefore unable to sit up or move.
Hence today's "wheelchair walk" pic is a "cheat" as is taken through my lounge window. One of the trees in the garden has just blossomed and the morning sun was shining beautifully on it.

Garden Blossom

Friday April 11th

Today I felt better again and was able to go out. It took until late in the afternoon for me to finally be well enough to leave so I wasn't able to stay out long as had to be back in time for a friend's evening visit.

Today I just took a pic of some of the numerous dog walkers who populate the Common.

Dog Walkers

Week 4: March 29th - April 4th, Seizures

For an explanation of this project and blog please click here.

A friend came to visit on Saturday as usual.
By evening I could tell something was wrong and went to bed early.

On Sunday I was feeling quite rotten. I wondered whether going out would perhaps perk me up a bit, but deep down knew from long experience that I was kidding myself. As it turned out I ended up going to sleep most of the afternoon, unable even to watch television.
That night I started having a large amount of seizures.

I have had epilepsy for roughly 15 years. Most people wouldn't recognise my seizures if they saw them. They don't look anything like the tonic clonic seizures you see on TV!

I have simple partial seizures, where I stay conscious, but twitch, smell bleach even though it isn't there, feel sick, get deja vu, see the room become small as though seen through the wrong end of a telescope, get a floating sensation, have trouble understanding what people are saying.  To an onlooker I may just look a little distant. It only lasts seconds, at most 15-20.

The seizure itself isn't too troublesome, even if it doesn't feel very nice.
I have some of these every week anyway and can mostly deal with them, as I usually only have one or two at a time. I can usually carry on with what I am doing as soon as it stops. Most people don't know I've had one even if they are with me at the time.

The problem comes if I have several one after the other in quick succession with little breaks. It does make me very tired afterwards. I have trouble with thinking, concentrating and memory.  I may start to have trouble finding my words and talking. I may find it difficult simply following a conversation.  I do things in the wrong order. And I mean the simplest of things. I have, for instance tried going through a door before opening it... (that didn't turn out so well).

What is also bad is when they develop into a complex partial seizure where I lose consciousness. Then I tend to chew my lip to bits and I feel absolutely terrible afterwards. I can be confused to the point that I don't know where I am, even in my own home. I lose sensation all down my right side and have trouble using it for a while afterwards.

From Sunday 30th March to Wednesday 2nd April I had lots of episodes of "clusters" of simple partial seizures, nocturnal seizures and several generalised partial seizures.
I felt terrible.
There was no question of me leaving the flat in my wheelchair as my policy is not to drive it if I am having generalised seizures. It isn't just my own safety I am worried about but everyone else's.

After Wednesday the seizures went back to their usual pattern with just the odd partial seizure here and there and some nocturnal seizures.

It took until the weekend before I really started to feel like myself again though.

End of week 4.

Week 3: March 22nd - March 28th, A disastrous trip

For an explanation of this project and blog please click here.

(Click on photos to enlarge and for slideshow)

Saturday March 22nd

Since my normal route to the Common is now blocked I've had to look for an alternative. Luckily I did find another way. It is rather annoying as I have to drive on the street for a while and then cross 3 busy roads, but I can get there within 5 to 10 minutes.

The weather was warmer again today which was rather pleasant. The good thing about this new route is that I'm seeing part of the Common I normally don't. I was rather struck by two trees I saw. One which had been felled and the other which was an old twisted old thing catching the sunlight.


Gnarly Tree

Monday March 24th

After a day's rest I was well enough to go out again. Although cloudy it is definitely getting warmer. I took photos around the ornamental lake today.

Coot from the Lake

Swan Lake

Wednesday March 26th

Yet another day's rest and out again. I was delighted to discover swans on the duckpond today. I was wary of getting too close but was still able to get some pics.

Swan on the Duckpond

Thursday March 27th: A Disastrous Trip

I didn't go to the Common today but to the petshop to buy some fish.
It was a DISASTER!
A white van had parked on the pavement which meant I had to go onto the road to oncoming traffic. This left me a little shaken.
I was still sighing from relief when an elderly couple got cross with me because they thought I was sighing at them for being in my way! I'm not sure they bought my explanation.
When I finally got to the petshop and got the assistant to catch the fish I wanted, I discovered I'd left my money at home. ARGH!
The only positive was the picture I took of this rather striking set of bushes.

Bright Bushes

Friday March 28th

The next day I returned to the petshop with money this time. It really does work better that way!
I took the following picture which really is quite special in that only a wheelchair user would spot it. The blossom was poking over a garden fence. 
Someone walking past it would just see some blossom at head height against a fence. 
As a wheelchair user I had to look up and so saw the contrast of the blossom against this beautiful intricate web of branches across the sky.

Blossoming Sky

End of Week 3

Week 2: March 15th-March 21st. "The Ramp"

For an explanation of this project and blog please click here.
Click on photos to enlarge and for slideshow.

Saturday March 15th

Things did look up again at the weekend. Not only was I feeling better but the weather decided to brighten up and we had one of the warmest weekends yet. It really felt like Spring.

The warm weather brought people outdoors to enjoy the sunshine both at the duckpond and fishing at the ornamental lake.

Saturday Sunshine at the Duckpond

Gone Fishing

Tuesday March 18th

Unfortunately I had to spend the next few days resting. Going out so much was catching up with me and sitting up was difficult, let alone safely driving my wheelchair.

By the time I could go out again the weather had drastically changed and it felt more like winter again. The sun was weak and feeble and was struggling to break through the scurrying clouds.

Struggling Sun

The wind had been quite strong over the past few days and was still gusty. Large branches littered the ground as seen in the next pic. I had to cut my journey short and avoid the woody areas. In any case, I was freezing!

Fallen branch on bleak avenue

Thursday March 20th: The Ramp

After another day recovering I set out again. I met a pair of ducks in the bushes close to my flat getting very friendly.

Friendly Ducks

Unfortunately I met an unpleasant surprise in the form of "pavement works" on my only known route to the Common. The pavement goes under the road through an underpass. Work was being done there. A "ramp" had been put in to allow cyclists through.

Although it looks small, its design means it tips wheelchairs over backwards and electric wheelchairs in particular risk "beaching" themselves on it, making it totally inaccessible.  I could not reach the Common but had to turn back and go home.

The work will continue for at least 10 days. I phoned the council but they were no help whatsoever. This appears to be a standard "ramp". I find it unacceptable that pavements can be blocked like this with no consideration for disabled people, particular with no warning at all. If I had known about it I could at least have looked for a different route and not wasted my time and energy.

The Inaccessible "tip you backwards" Ramp

Friday March 21st

I wasn't feeling at all well today. I did leave the flat for 10 minutes and made it to the bank at the end of the road but that was it. I didn't take a photo, but I imagine you won't feel that is a big loss. :D

This marks the end of Week 2.

The Project 2014, Week 1: March 10th-March 14th

The Project 

I have recently started to feel a bit better. "Better" is relative, of course. "Better" means "not bedbound". "Better" means "maybe I can leave my flat and go outside". Given that I've been pretty much housebound for the past 5 years, this is simply amazing. When I say "housebound", I mean it. I can go for months without crossing the threshold of my front door. 

The first two months of 2014 have been pretty "meh". I have left the house twice and that was for hospital appointments. I won't bore you with details of illness and symptoms. This isn't what this is about.

The point is things are looking up! And so I have set myself a personal goal of going outside as much as I possibly can.
I am lucky in that I live about 100 yards away from "The Common", a lovely large green area for pedestrians and bikes where I can go for "walks" in my electric wheelchair. I have devised a looped route which is about 4 miles long (according to Google Maps!). 
I obviously don't have to do that every single day. On days when I don't feel so good, I can turn back sooner. But I will try to do as much as possible as often as possible. It will also almost certainly not be possible for me to go out every single day. We shall see.

To give me some incentive as well as something fun to do should the novelty of going outdoors ever wear off, a friend suggested I take a photo every day I succeed in going out. This blog will now be dedicated to a record of these outings, assuming my health holds up.

Week 1: March 10th-March 14th

(Click on photos to enlarge and for slideshow)

Monday March 10th:

My first picture. Feeling a bit unsure of this whole project. I stumbled across what are probably weeds, but the first burst of colour in this still wintery landscape. I love these little paths which wind their way off the main concreted path I go along in the wheelchair. I always wonder where they lead.

Wandering Yellow Path

Tuesday March 11th

The duckpond today was filled with seagulls. When I first approached they scared and flew off but soon came back and settled down.

Flying Seagulls

Seagulls on the Duckpond

Wednesday March 12th

This beautiful "Avenue" part of the common is usually filled with people. Today, suddenly for no reason, it emptied ahead of me. I scooted forward and quickly snapped off this shot just in time before people came back into view.

Deserted Avenue

Thursday March 13th

I am really starting to feel the strain of going out in the wheelchair every day.  I did have quite a nasty fall on Wednesday night. My legs were very shaky and gave way immediately upon standing, taking me by surprise. This is definitely down to the extra effort of going out. No harm was done though and I am still extremely pleased with how well I am doing.

My choice of photo for today is this trio of trees.
Trees are my favourite "plant". Most people like flowers and smaller garden type plants, but I love the huge impressive towering trees. I therefore really enjoy going past these three magnificent specimens on my route. The person between them gives you an idea of their size.

Trio of Trees

Friday March 14th

Friends came to visit and my physical state in any case meant going out was not on the cards. Hopefully I'll feel back up to it by the weekend.

End of Week 1

Click here for Week 2.