Burning off the fat

I am exhausted! I’m so tired I can barely lift my fingers onto the keyboard – but I’ll force myself to do it.

Why am I so tired?  Because I’ve just lit a fire.

I need to give a little background, here.  Some of this you know already, but you’re just too lazy to go back through all my posts and find it – so I’ll save you the effort. Read more…

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Mutter mutter…

I’m not angry today, but I am disappointed.

We’ve just had family to stay.  A young lady and her boyfriend.  Well, I say ‘to stay’ – what I mean is that our 15 year old grand-daugher slept at our house, and the 18 year old boyfriend slept in a B&B we booked and paid for.

Read more…

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Ignorance, or stupidity?

This is a question I’m finding myself asking a lot, lately.  Are they stupid, or are they ignorant?

I touched on it  a few posts back, when I talked about the ‘I’m only…’ crowd – and I know we all fit that heading from time to time.  My own dear papa admitted as much himself.  But…

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As most of you know, my partner is disabled, and I’m the carer.  We’re both… um… getting on in years.

My father, a few days back, was telling me about some problems he and mum have been having remembering things – so I thought I’d share this little anecdote with you.

I had to go to the Chemist and pick up some pills, and – as it is only across the road – I decided that I’d pop in the supermarket at the same time.  I asked my partner what we needed, and was given a list.

We have a great system with shopping.  My partner makes out a list – containing items I’ve mentioned we’re running out of, along with anything we think we’ll need before I next shop – and I buy what’s on the list.  This protects us from ‘special offers,’ as I’ll only buy it if it’s on the list.  (No, I’m not going to talk about special offers again – I promised a lighter post this time.)

So, I’ve been given a list.  I read it, then slip it in with my cards, ready to go shopping.

As I’m about to leave, my partner suddenly asks if eggs were on the list, because we had run out.  So I pull the list out, and look at it, and say yes, eggs are on the list.

Then my partner wants to know why I’m looking so upset….

I had a hard time explaining.  Saying how sad it was that my partner could not remember what was on a list they had read not five minutes earlier.  And how extra sad it was that I had to look at the list to check, that I could not remember, either.

Not so bad, you think?  I’m afraid it is.

You see… there were only two items on the list.  But neither of us could remember if one of them was eggs!

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Spending in your store

After Woolworths went bust, the local store stood empty for a while, then went through a couple of incarnations before becoming the Poundstretcher it currently is – though I expect it to close down fairly quickly.

They keep sending out advertising leaflets, which my partner looks at if I can’t get them destroyed quick enough, and the advertising worked – my partner wanted to go there for a couple of things.

So we went.  We had an appointment in town for an eye-test, and went to Poundstretcher while we were there.  I walked, and my partner drove the disability scooter.

We went in the entrance to Poundstretcher, looked at the narrow aisles half-blocked with boxes, turned round and left.  There was no way we could navigate that store with the scooter – we would have been unable to do it with a wheelchair or buggy, either.  Actually, it would have been hard for me on foot!

My partner says we should get in touch with the local paper and complain.  My view is different.

Years ago, laws were put in place that were intended to make all shops, businesses, etc., equally accessible to the disabled.  Ramps were supposed to be installed in place of steps, for instance; and aisles were supposed to be wide enough for two wheelchairs to pass each other.

I was working part time when the law came in, and the place I worked had a concrete platform around it, with a six inch step down onto a gravel parking area.  It was impossible for a wheelchair user to get into the shop.  When I mentioned the law, and that they would have to make some changes, they told me that they only had to make changes if somebody complained…

And that was the attitude of business.  Walk down any high street and you will see shops with steps, and narrow aisles, and impossibly tight turns, and all manner of problems for the disabled.  The new law might just as well have never been passed.

The businesses are taking the attitude that they will spend money on changes only when they are forced to – by somebody  complaining.  Until then, they will stay as they are.

Well, that is their right.  Just as it is my right to choose to do exactly what we did.  We turned around and left.  We kept our money, rather than spent it – just like they did.

If we were to complain, they would be forced to change things.  Then they would use that as an excuse to raise prices.  Then the next disabled person would be able to go in there and spend more money.  If we don’t complain, they won’t change things, and the next disabled person will turn around and leave, too.

Now, they can take the position that – if customers really want their product – the disabled can get an able-bodied person to go in the shop for them.  And that is true.

I much prefer my position: if my partner cannot get in and look around easily, we’ll go somewhere else instead.

This is yet another instance of a business forgetting what they do.  Poundstretcher sells cheap products in bulk.  To do that, they need customers to come in and buy.  Never mind the scooter, I didn’t fancy trying to get around that store – too claustrophobic!  (It’s not the shop itself – I had no problems when it was a Woolworths.)

There is a Rainbow store in town, too – and my partner can whizz around there in the scooter with ease.  Up and down every aisle, through the checkout, everything.  

There’s no contest, really.

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Missed appointments

As I’ve mentioned, we’ve just had a new kitchen fitted by the local council.  Prior to the job starting, the company doing the work sent a man around to get a signature on a document setting out the ‘agreement’ for the work. 

On the document were things like: keeping pets under control; removal of fittings, etc.; and access.  The item that interests me, though, is the one that said we had to be ready for the workmen to start work at 7:30am – and pointed out that re-scheduling an appointment would be expensive.

Well, we were ready for them, every day they said they would be there.  Only once did the workmen arrive in the morning – and then it was around 9am.  On the third day, nobody turned up at all – though they were scheduled to be there.  With a weekend in the middle of the job, and the job planned to take five days, it was actually ten days from start to fini… hang on, it’s still not finished, is it…

My partner needed a blood test this week, and we called to arrange for a nurse to come out and do the stabbing.  We were told that they would arrive anytime after 8am on Thursday. 

At around 5pm on Thursday, we got a telephone call: sorry, we’ll be there first thing in the morning.  So we set our alarms again, and got up early.  And we waited.  And waited.

My partner is diabetic, among other things.  One of the most important things to know about diabetes is that food is critical.  You have to eat the right thing at the right time.  But we were told that it was a ‘fasting’ test – so my partner wasn’t allowed anything to eat or drink after midnight.

The nurse arrived at noon.

No fasting required, she said, and as she knew my partner personally, she had put us lower down the list so my partner could sleep longer…

When we have to go out to see a Dr. or a specialist at the hospital, we are given a time for the appointment.  We always allow extra travel time ‘just in case’ and get there early.  (Our surgery is a five minute drive away – we get there at least fifteen minutes before an appointment…)

Then we sit in the waiting room, and wait.  And wait.  And wait.  Experience has taught us that five minutes late is a miracle, ten is expected, and thirty minutes unsurprising.  On one occassion, we waited four hours or more.

We are told, constantly, by ‘official’ bodies (like the NHS) that missed appointments cost them millions every year.  OK.  I can understand that. 

My question is: why do they keep missing them, then?

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Mental disability

Last Saturday was our big 25th wedding anniversary party.  We had a lot of friends and family join us in the function room of a local Pub, and we had fun.  (Thanks to all who joined us and made the day special.)

My partner went in a wheelchair, which I pushed.  At the party, I parked the wheelchair in a dark corner out of the way (with my partner still in it) and then spent the next few hours circulating.  Great fun.

At the end of the party, I pushed the wheelchair home again.  We travelled along the pavement for a couple of hundred yards, then turned around and went back, off the pavement onto the road, and set off homewards again.  We had to do this, as somebody had parked their car right where the pavement was lowered for wheelchair (and pushchair/pram) access.

I don’t blame the car driver too much, as it was a clearly marked parking area.  The question is why the council would lower the pavement where cars can park, and not five feet further along the road, where cars could not park?

Yesterday, I spent the day out with family.  My mother was there, in her battery powered disability scooter.  She drove along the pavement, for several hundred yards, until she reached some scaffolding – which totally blocked the pavement.  With no room to turn around, she had to get off the scooter, and wait while we manhandled the scooter into the road.

Throughout the day, my mother encountered exactly the same as my partner does when out on the the scooter: people will look right at the scooter, see it tootling along merrily, then step in front of it!  If the scooter hits them, it’s your fault

Not once, ever, have I seen somebody step aside for the scooter – the best you can hope for is that they stop while you try to get past.

It’s not stupidity, not really.  It’s ignorance.  It’s lack of thought; lack of education.  People just do not think.

I’d like awareness of this problem to be taught in schools.  I’d like teenagers and pre-teens to be tied into wheelchairs for a day, and forced to leave the house: give them a list of things to collect from the mall, and make sure that some of the items are on different levels, too.

I’d like everybody to be required to pass a test in wheelchair use – and passing that test to be an essential part of obtaining a driving licence or passport; make it a requirement for getting a mobile phone!

Honestly, you only need to spend a few hours in the chair (or even pushing one) to realise the problems the disabled face.

Yes, the disabled have parking benefits.  We have a blue badge, and can legally park on yellow lines, within limits.  The idea of this is to allow the disabled to access places more easily.  Many are jealous of this benefit, and make a point of parking in the disabled bays at supermarkets, hospitals, etc.    And, to be honest, the blue badge is more useful to the carer than the disabled person, most of the time.  (The disabled person will be put in a wheelchair, or scooter – so an extra half-mile walk will not affect them.

Again, try it.  Try parking the car in a ‘normal’ parking bay, taking the wheelchair out of the boot, assembling it, then transferring the disabled person from car to chair – when there is no room behind the car for the chair, and not enough room to open the car door.  THEN try pushing that wheelchair a mile to the shop, where you have to get it up three steps to gain access.  Push it around the shop, down those aisles that are just wide enough for the wheelchair, then come up to the display that blocks off half the aisle, so you have to reverse out again, past all the other shoppers who are giving you filthy looks and tutting over the holdup.

Try lifting a heavy battery powered scooter into the boot of your car, then out again half an hour later when you reach the shops.  Walk around the shops, then lift that scooter into the car again, and drive to the surgery, where you lift it out once more.  After your partners visit to the doctor, lift that ton weight into the car again and drive home – where you take the scooter out again!  Of course, once your partner is safely in the house, you have to carry in all the shopping, put it away, make sure the oxygen supply is on, cook dinner, walk the dog, wash the dishes, and – above all else – keep smiling!

Oh, and don’t forget – every time that wheelchair or scooter reaches a kerb, you have to lift it on or off – because somebody is parked where the kerb has been lowered. 

No, being a carer is not easy.  (Being cared for is even harder, of course.) 

Maybe, just maybe, making people understand what it’s like will make them think a little more.

You think?

Gone Fishing

Be warned: this is a long, rambling post.

It’s the middle of July, and so far this year I’ve had a day of fishing with my Dad up in Yorkshire, and a day locally.  Until yesterday.  I actually managed to get out and go fishing for the third time this year.

I’ve been planning it for months, actually.  Sorted out my tackle, decided where I was going and what I was fishing for.  Loaded the car up, set the alarm, and got up.  Went to the loo, then made a drink.  And went to the loo.  And made sure everything was ready to go…  And went to the loo again.  And again.  Spent half the day sat on the damned thing, and daren’t risk going fishing when I was like that.

Read more…

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Months ago, an issue was raised with regard to the threshold between our kitchen and living room.  My partner moves around the house by using a wheeled walking frame, on which can be carried all manner of useful things.

If I am out, and my partner wants a drink, they can go into the kitchen and make one.  It’s not easy, but it can be done.  The problem is how to get the drink from the kitchen to the living room.  There is a height difference caused by thick carpet, and the trolley ‘bumps’ over it, spilling the drink.

So, somebody from the council took a look, and said ‘yes, we can do something about that.’  A couple of weeks later, a workman came to do the job.  He took one look, and said ‘nothing we can do with that, sorry,’ and left.

Every time the council sends a workman, they also send a ‘feedback’ form.  So we completed the form truthfully.  And we got another visit from an official, who said ‘yes, we can do something about that.’

Then we got a visit from a supervisor of some sort, who went into detail about what we wanted, and told us that ‘yes, we can do something about that – but we need to order a special part.’

When?  I enquired, and was told that it would be ‘a few weeks’ and that they would let me know when they were coming.

Today, there was a knock at the door.  Followed, moments later, by a bang on the window – obviously, I didn’t move fast enough for them.

I opened the door to a council workman, who told me he had come to install the new threshold.  When I said it wasn’t convenient, and that we were supposed to be given a date and time, he told me it wouldn’t take long. 

It was very hard to get him to take ‘no’ for an answer.  He would do very well in telesales.  Apparently, if we didn’t let him in to do the job now, he couldn’t guarantee to come back later today.  And he had a big job that would fill the rest of the week.  And his partner was on holiday the week after.  So, really, if I didn’t let them in to do the job now, it could be weeks before they came back.

I think he was quite surprised as he walked back to his van.  He really thought that he was more important than me.  That his being here to do the job now was more important than the fact that my partner was sat in the shower, waiting for me to make them clean, before we left for our appointments.

We were on a tight schedule, and having two workmen in the way was just not something we could deal with. 

The attitude of the workman didn’t help matters, of course.  In a street full of sheltered housing, where every home is occupied by those who are elderly, disabled, or both, this man was incapable of waiting.  I’m reasonably fit, for my age – I’m not crippled, at any rate – and I did not have time to get to the door before he was banging on the window.

His point of view was that he was here to do a job, and he intended to get it done as quickly as he could – so he would have time to sit in his van somewhere else.  We, the client, were nothing but an obstacle that he needed to… I was going to say negotiate, but that implies some give and take…  Overcome.  That’s it, an obstacle to overcome.

My point of view was that he was wasting my time and forcing me to stand at the door, while my partner was sat shivering in the shower.  No way was this man getting in my house while my partner was in that position, and no way should he even be here today.

Sadly, it seems that he is the only one on the council workforce capable of doing the job, so we’ll have to deal with him again.  I only hope that we are given advance notice next time – nothing worse than having somebody at the door while you’re trying to shower a disabled person.

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Sorry I’ve not posted for a while, I’ve been away.

My partner – who is already disabled – twisted their knee and became incapable of standing unaided.  This was a major problem for us, as it threw all our strategies into disarray: nothing was working the same.

My parents are very close to their 60th wedding anniversary, and – for various reasons – their celebratory party took place last weekend.  At the other end of the country from me.

So.  I managed to get a place for my partner in respite care, and had some time off to attend the party.

I had a great time, for the most part.  I got to share a hug with a few family members I only manage to see rarely, and chat with people I’ve not seen in decades.  I even managed to get a fishing trip with my dad in.

I didn’t manage to find the time to sit down and write a blog post, though, for which I apologise.  A little.  Just very slightly.  Oh, who am I kidding?  I didn’t think about the blog once!

I’ve been caring for my partner – full time – for well over ten years now.  Closer to twenty, if I dare sit and work it out.  And in all that time, I’ve had fewer breaks than you can count on one hand.

We’ve had a couple of holidays together, in the early years – but I always take my work with me on those things.

I’ve had a short break where I travelled up to visit my father in hospital, when we were afraid he wouldn’t make it.  He did, and we’re thankful for that, but it wasn’t what you could call ‘restful’ for me.

I had another ‘break’ to attend my sister’s funeral – again, not very restful.

I did manage a couple of days to attend a christening last year – and got in a days fishing with dad, too.  But it was a flying visit.

I’ve had the odd day off to go fishing.

But… what all of those have in common is the way I felt.  You see, I’ll sit on the bank, rod in hand, and wonder if my partner is okay.  I always make preparations for them: sort out food and drink for them while I’m not there.  But I still worry about them.

This time, though… They were in a home, with 24 hour staff.  Any problems, there was somebody there to deal with it.

For the first time in a very long time, I was able to relax.  I didn’t have to worry about my partner at all; didn’t have to worry about anybody else; didn’t have to do anything.  I could just… do nothing.

I did a bit of shopping – spent well over an hour walking around a fishing tackle warehouse. (Bliss.) 

I took the dog for several walks.

I had a nap in the afternoon!  I never nap, but on the Sunday, I did.  We had a nice roast dinner, with wine, then sat in the front room where my dad promptly fell asleep.  I sat there, bored, for all of five minutes before my eyes closed.  Five hours later, I woke up and went out to the kitchen to make a drink.  Dad woke up a few minutes later and came out, apologising for falling asleep.  I teased him mercilessly about old men napping after dinner – not something that I would ever do…

At no point during my week off was I ‘bored.’  A couple of times it took me a few minutes to think of something to do, but there was always something to fill my time.

I loved every minute of it.  And now I’m wondering how I can arrange another break.

The problem is, my partner didn’t have a great time.  No reflection on the home – they did their best – but rather a reflection on me.  You see, within 24 hours of coming home, my partner had received more attention and care than they did all week in the home.

I’m just too good to my partner. 😉

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