The new `challenge`.

Hi everybody, not really sure how to follow the last Blog entry as anything after that is going to seem boring but life is not always full of fun and interest, because if that was the case people would not have different characters and personalities. In any case I am going to write about what has been going on since then and tell you about what for me is a brilliant development.  So anyway I am going to start with some help that my Daughter gave me.

For those of you who are not in a wheelchair you will be unaware of something that affects people who are unable to walk and use the muscles such as legs, stomach and the muscles in your butt cheeks. With these muscles not being used they first relax and then deplete to the point that the legs for instance resemble sticks. This is something that that I am experiencing slowly now. My leg muscles were really big due to the active life I had. Carrying weight on my back and waist and running around with the Army built and kept muscle but now it is all going, my legs are a lot smaller and `squidgy`. My stomach muscles have all relaxed and of course I am gaining circumference, although while going through a shape book with `Pickle` I noticed that round is a word that describes shape, so I am still technically in shape! (or should that be a shape?) Anyway, as your butt has no muscle we have to sit on pressure relieving cushions that have a gel in them, this gel we “pummel” in to a mound before we sit on it, then it moulds around your butt which gives you the padding you now do not have due to the muscle going. Without this we would get what we call pressure sores, I will not put any pictures on here of what they can turn in to as I do not want to make people ill but if curiosity gets you then look it up. So as you can tell, the cushion is extremely important. I only have one cushion which I must use for my manual and power wheelchairs.

I was sat in my manual chair last week and needed to get the cushion out to put in to my power chair and so I asked my Daughter to help, my Wife was not keen but my Daughter was happy to help me. I positioned myself in front of the sofa in case I needed to lean a bit further forward and lifted myself off of my cushion. My Daughter took hold of the back of the cushion and lifted it, the cushions are secured to the base of the chair by Velcro, the Velcro is pretty good stuff and does not let go easily to prevent the cushion moving when we are getting on and off of them, this presented a minor problem for my Daughter in so much as she did not have the strength to pull the cushion out slowly so instead she pulled up hard in the hope that the Velcro would release the cushion and allow her to remove it from under me. As I previously said, the Velcro is really good stuff and does not let go easily and on this occasion it was no exception. The Velcro did not let go, as my Daughter pulled the cushion up the back of the chair went with it lifting the large main wheels of my chair off of the ground which, coupled with the fact I was also lifting and leaning forward over balanced the chair which made the front castors which do not have brakes, roll backwards and then…fat boy here was on his knees on the floor with my face buried in the sofa! My knees did hurt as I am able to feel them although the feeling is very much reduced to that of what was normal. My feet were unstrapped from the chair by my Wife, I lowered the rest of the way to the floor and bum shuffled to the bathroom where I got in to my sling and hoisted back in to the chair all with my Daughter laughing her ass off. Admittedly not until she knew I was alright though. So a lesson learned, yes you can pull the cushion out if I am in the power chair but not if I am in the manual chair.

A couple of weeks ago our female rabbit `Honey`gave birth to four beautiful little bunnies. We kept an eye on her just in case of any problems but she was doing OK, one of the bunnies did keep shuffling off away from the other three, we left them all to it though because we did not want `Honey` to ignore them. Unfortunately though at less than a week old one of the bunnies died. This left us with three that were huddling together squeaking and muddling about, their eyes are open now and they are really moving about.

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So in a few weeks time the bunnies will be looking to going to new homes.

On Friday Maralyn came to do my acupuncture and she told me about what is happening with her. Beech House surgery is closing which is where she was based, she obviously does home visits as well but her base was the surgery. I have previously told you about how she set up a Monday `clinic` in Chard and how well that was doing but then there was the complication of the surgery at Beech House closing. Fear not though, as she has a new building not far from the Beech House in Ilminster which she will be setting up in, and there is also an added bonus. She is setting up in Penhalagans  salon in Ilminster. The treatment rooms are going to be built upstairs so you can go and have your treatment and then have your hair done! Once the work starts and as things progress I will be writing about it and putting it on the website which Maralyn is getting done for the business, I will of course put a link on here when it is up and running.

We went in to Taunton on Saturday to try to sort my Mobile phone out. It had a rather unfortunate experience with a bottle of beer, a bottle of beer that for no apparent reason exploded and dumped it’s contents in to my lap which is where my mobile was which resulted in it having a drink, getting a bit pissed, passing out and it would appear either slipping in to a coma or dying. So after queuing for what seemed like an eternity as they were so busy, it was looked at, written off and replaced through the insurance by the Carphone Warehouse. I will give them their due, they are by far and above the best mobile phone shop I have dealt with, Orange, Apple, and the Phones 4 u shops have never been a patch on them which is why I stick with them. After sorting the phone out we popped over to Subway to grab some take out sand whiches and went over to Vivary Park where we had a “picnic” and fed the ducks. It was a beautiful day on Saturday with the sun, (that is right people I said SUN!), making things pretty warm, to the point that even the ducks were staying in the shade. Needless to say that `Pickle` was a little gutted that they did not want the bread that she had been throwing them but was pleased that the Seagulls did not let it go to waste.

I have had a couple of visits from our friend Richard which was nice. He popped round for a coffee and a catch up the other night which lasted a good couple of hours, talking about his bike that he has just put back on the road as a runabout after good God knows how long and telling me about his Kit car that he built himself and has now sold. We spoke about so much stuff, it was great to catch up with him. We spoke about me going round to his place to have a look at if it is possible for me to get in at all although he is not hopeful, with any luck we will actually have a summer this year and he and his Wife Lisa will come round for a BBQ and drinks. She really is a cracking girl, she got a surprise for Richard on their wedding day as she wanted him to arrive at the church in style just like she did, so she hired…..

I recently had two fantastic offers, one from Mission Motorsport and one from  the Band of Brothers. The first was to travel to Silverstone for the official launch of the Mission Motorsport Motorcycle racing team, amputees, PTSD and other injuries will affect the riders but if I know Mission Motorsport and the guys who race, they will do well. I was gutted I could not be there as I have a great deal of respect for James, Aston, Gav and the rest of the gang and what they have already achieved. To be there for the launch would have been a real treat and they also were going to put me on a bike. For the first time since my accident I would be donning the leathers and crash helmet and riding round the famous   racing circuit. I know that the day will have gone well and intend to look out for the write up in the bike magazines.

The second invitation was as I said from Ollie and Stacey at the Band of Brothers. A very limited number of the Band of Brothers had been called and offered an amazing opportunity, an opportunity which you would be an absolute idiot not to accept, (that would be me then), a two part treat. Firstly, yesterday (Monday) the selected few were going to the McLaren factory for a guided tour, to meet the clever people who design the cars, to take part in some challenges and to ride in some cars. I am sure that you will agree that this is an incredible opportunity and that to do this once in a lifetime thing would be amazing. I thought the very same thing when I accepted it but a couple of weeks ago I had to tell Stacey that she should offer it to someone else due to an appointment that I simply had to take. The second part involves going up to the Grand Prix and watching the team set the car up for the race with the chance of meeting the drivers. Whilst I am sick to my stomach that I had to give up this incredible chance, I am pleased that I was able to give a fellow member of the Band of Brothers the opportunity to go.

Yesterday then (Monday), I travelled to the spinal unit at Stoke Mandeville in Aylesbury. My Wife drove, and it took around three and a half hours to get there. We avoided the motorways as she does not travel well on them and instead took a route through the little villages in the area. Eventually though we arrived and parked the `Chucklebus`, then we headed for an entrance in order to at least get in to the hospital so we could find our way to the Spinal Unit. We were on the lower ground floor and needed to go up a level to the ground floor and so we got in to the lift. Once on the ground floor we looked for a directions board and located the Spinal Unit. We arrived in the spinal unit and immediately I was impressed. We had come past the Gym which had less floor space than that of my old unit, or maybe just had more equipment but it was being very well used. We heard voices in the Hydrotherapy pool and saw people going from there to the spinal unit which was good to see, at my old unit the pool was used more for the old and bold and mothers and toddlers as well as water aerobic keep fit than it was for the spinal patients, despite it being part of the spinal unit and labelled “Spinal Pool”. So far so good.

We went to the outpatients and checked in ready for my appointment which was at 11.40, the 11.20 appointment had not yet turned up and it was 11.10 so there was a chance that I may get in a little early. The staff told me to wait in the foyer area which was basically the centre of the Spinal Unit or go and have a cup of coffee in the cafe which was just across from the outpatients department. This was the option we took after the drive up, we had our drinks and went back to the foyer and sat down. We were immediately approached by the lady we had spoken to when we checked in, I was taken by a young nurse in to a room where my blood pressure was taken. Then I got out of my chair and on to the bed, once on the bed the young nurse took my chair off to be weighed. 14.5 kg. This was the weight that would need to be deducted from the total when I was weighed. I transferred back in to my chair and we headed over to the scales, I rolled on to them and then the young nurse showed me the weight. In hind sight, surrendering my LGV license to DVLA may not have been such a good idea as I don’t think I should be driving myself around weighing this much!

We returned to the waiting area and were spoken to again by the nurse who had checked us in, she told us that the 11.20 appointment had arrived and that he was really unwell, this was causing a delay but she hoped it would not be long. It was over an hour later that we managed to be seen for my appointment, but I was not angry as this showed me that the Doctor or Consultant was not going to rush the appointment just to get back on time. I went in to the room and the consultant joined us. He read out what he believed to be true as per what he had been told by my old unit some of which was a little confusing and some which was correct but the main thing that was wrong was the bit that said that I had been admitted and that I had been discharged after my rehab. Needless to say that I corrected this minor discrepancy. He asked me about my old consultant I truth fully answered the questions, ensuring that I remained polite and factual as after all, they are all in the same profession and I would not want for them to be talking one day and be portrayed as someone who paints bad pictures of people with no good reason. The consultant disagreed with some of what my consultant had done and said at the spinal Unit that I had been in before and then spoke to me about medication. He told me about how he planned to try to sort out my meds but that he would write to my GP to inform him of how I should start meds before my arrival and what they were as well as the dosage. He explained about trying different meds if needed and also about a pump which would be surgically implanted to help with my spasms. He also said that the physiotherapists would be able to help with my tweeking of my transfers to make them easier and also may hopefully be able to help me in trying to keep my circumference down. All I am waiting for now is the bed  for me to be admitted for three weeks or so. FINALLY, I think I have found someone who ACTUALLY wants to help me, not that my Physio’s that I have managed to get to come and see me here at home haven’t wanted to help and have helped me, but I finally have a spinal specialist that I will be able to ask questions to and have some sort of support for if I need it, and I really do not know how I could write down how much this means to me after eighteen months of fighting and pushing to get help, it looks like I finally have it.

I have been hinting about my next `challenge` but have not as yet said what it was. I have been trying to organise an abseil. Something I have not done before and therefore a great way to raise money for the off road chair and of course for charity. So this is how it has gone. I wrote to The Royal Navy about roping from one of their Sea King helicopters which they were very interested in, they did however have to get permission from much higher. Unfortunately due to the high risk and the number of casualties that happen when people are training whilst doing this activity, permission was sadly not granted. Much to the disappointment of the Squadron Commander who had tried to make it happen. So next I telephoned the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol to ask if I could abseil from there. I explained what had happened to me and why I wanted to do it but apparently it is illegal to do such things from the bridge and therefore was a NO. Next I e mailed The Shard in  London, again explaining what had happened and why I wanted to abseil, again an e mail to tell me NO. So now I am desperately trying to find another venue to do it. I wanted it to be something big, something that would give the “Bloody hell” factor. Something that was a bit out of the ordinary in the hope that people would want to sponsor me to do it. This has clearly failed and so now I am still looking to abseil but it won’t be from a great height or helicopter, instead probably just a building but I will need to try to do it a little differently. I am already talking to some people about a `challenge` or two in the off road chair when I buy it, and looking at ways to raise more money for charity. Hopefully I will hear soon about the decision from the tax office as to if my website can be registered as a Non Profit Organisation so I can really help charities and if it goes well, individuals. Maybe it will fall on it’s ass but I would prefer to try and fail than fail to try. The first thing I am doing to help raise money is to sell some bumper stickers of my logo, this will put money in the pot and will hopefully catch people’s eye and cause them to be curious enough to look on line. The more stickers that get put on vehicles or windows around, the more people will hopefully see them and potentially add to the pot. The stickers are of my logo, the parachuting and skiing wheelchair, with the web address underneath. They are 16 cms or 6 and 1/4 inches high and 10 and 1/2 cms or 4 inches wide. I will be selling them at £4 each either black or white in colour with free postage just as soon as I can sort out how to do it on the website. As I said, it may fall on it’s ass but at least I will have tried. If it works then I can think of other things. Feel free to leave a bit of feedback for me so I will have an idea of what you the readers think.

Well, that’s all for me for now, until next time.

Goodnight all.

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