5 November 2009

Posted by DMC on 5 November 2009 in Diary |

After a good  night’s sleep, Mick and  I spent the day in my office beginning to catch up with more e-mails,  thank you e-mails to all those wonderful people who had been so kind to us on our visit etc. neither of us being prepared to recognise that there is anything approaching jet lag.  However we decide to give  the communal fireworks party in the nearby village of  Newport, a miss.

At this stage I think it is a convenient time to assess my physical condition and how I managed on this trip.  Of course, the good doctor attended to most of my personal needs.  He insisted on sponging me down in the shower, dressing me, collecting my food, cutting it up and occasionally even spooning it into my mouth.  Once up and dressed and fed the only other thing I needed help with was lavatorial and, being a doctor,  none of this caused him  any concern. As he said himself he has seen more bottoms and I have had Sunday lunches.

I can still managed to shave myself after a fashion with my electric razor.  I have always shaved in bed, in any event, so lying flat on my back and planting the razor in my  right hand behind the permanently curled fingers and clasping that hand with my left hand, which like the other, is half permanently curled, I can move the razor around my face and neck.  I don’t end up with a very professional job but probably just enough to avoid me looking like one of those young (apparently) sexy unshaven male models which we see on most advertisements today!

The shower at home is over a bath which I have to step into, this I can manage at present but I wonder how long it would be before we have to dispose of this lovely deep cast-iron old-fashioned tub and replace it with a rather nasty walk-in shower.  Teeth is another thing I am still just managing  – after ‘my lovely’ has applied some toothpaste to the brush – by virtue of my fancy electric toothbrush, which tells me when I have spent 30 seconds on each quadrant!  My only difficultly is turning the brush in my hands which I can do in a rather clumsy fashion but maybe at some stage this task too will be have  to be handed over.

Beds can be a slight problem particularly my lovely’s antique four-poster which is rather high off the ground.   I’m now using a stool to get in. I know ‘my lovely’ is keen to replace it with some sort of orthopaedic bed but as I have slept in it for the best part of 50 years and my darling daughter Chloe was born in it and my little grandchildren have crept into it in the early hours of every Christmas morning, when they have spent Christmas with us, eagerly anticipating opening their Christmas stockings, as I hope they will again this Christmas – their parents not wishing to know at 5 a.m. in the morning – I am loathe to get rid of it. I have no difficulty in turning over and to some extent adjusting the bedclothes using my legs and elbows. I do  find it virtually impossible to pull up the duvet around my neck which can be a little annoying when it’s rather chilly.  The other thing I find difficult is moving the pillows. Even the lightest down pillow is too heavy for me to lift other than clenched between my two-fisted hands.

Talking of beds, for as long as I can remember I have kept a large pile of cut paper by the side of the bed with a pen on which I would records notes or ideas which came to me during the night. I did all this in the dark when my ‘my lovely’ still slept with me. Now, sadly as I can no longer write so I have recently turned to a Dictaphone which, although I have some little differently in pushing the record switch, enables me to continue this rather bizarre habit.  Some of my very best ideas have come to me in the early hours of the morning after my two or three hours deep sleep.

Although the good doctor sat at the back of the hall, during some of the Beijing lectures, I insisted that he went sightseeing for two of the three days but I did have  a student with me who turned the pages of my lecture notes and pressed a key, on my laptop, to change the PowerPoint slide where marked. So this side of things went very smoothly.

There’s no doubt, however, that I have weakened during the last month both  in my arms and legs. For example, on returning home, and resuming my morning exercises, I can no longer raise my arm from the floor when lying flat on my stomach. More than once, on this trip,  I found myself in a squat position unable to get up.  On one occasion, in Hua Hin,  I got stuck in a tuk tuk unable to move forward or back. It took the driver and the doctor a bit of shoving and pushing to get me into an upright position onto the seat. On another occasion, when I dropped my plastic room card and attempted to recover it, I found myself wedged against the door practically on my knees, again unable to move. My right arm now occasionally locks rigid and I have to throw my weight into it to bend it. One night I managed to fall out of bed and hit my cheek on the bedside table when reaching for my water.

Once on my feet however, in an upright position, I am able to walk fairly normally albeit a little more slowly than before.  It will be interesting to see how I manage to walk around the golf course next Tuesday.

I am still able to use my laptop as the forefinger and middle finger of my left hand seems to have frozen in an almost horizontal position which is very handy for operating my mouse or switching lights on and off. I have to be particularly careful about shutting doors. On several occasions I have had to ring through to the house to get ‘my lovely’ to open my office door which seems to jam on the cill. Bill, our carpenter, is coming shortly to fit a new cill to overcome this problem.

When away from home, if I use a toilet for the disabled, I usually get a friend, or the attendant, to stand guard outside so I do not have to lock the door and then I usually ask them if they will be kind enough to assist me to adjust my dress. Most people are obliging and do not seem to mind.

I have decided that my driving days are over as I cannot risk having an accident if my right arm locks solid. This means that I shall shortly dispose of my car although I have no high hopes for getting a good price in this current market.

‘My lovely’ has now taken over the duties performed by the good doctor, washing me etc. where, prior to this trip I was able to manage myself.  At all mealtimes I now wear a full-length apron as eating has become a rather sloppy affair, frequently dropping food from the angled spoon, into my lap.  At home I have my articulated arm rest which still enables me to feed myself, albeit rather clumsily. I am working on the design of a sling which will go  from foot to foot, around the back of my neck, connected to the wrist of each hand, which I’m hoping will enable me to raise my right hand to my mouth when I am eating away from home and do not have the articulated arm rest.

Drinking is now done almost entirely in my two handled lightweight mug using a long straw. Smoking is still possible by clamping the cigar, into the spring clip screwed to the top of the freestanding cigar holder which I designed and had made by my carpenter.

Lastly there is the problem of signing my name.  This had to be done on several occasions during this recent trip on arrival and departure cards. In many instances the good doctor had to forge my name. He obviously didn’t want to get embroiled in an hour long discussion and I imagine there must be some system that enables an illiterate to make his mark. I have already given ‘my lovely’ authority to sign my cheques so I am completely at her mercy over my money- I just hope she doesn’t run off with the milkman!!  But how do I cope in other circumstances when she is no longer with me? I can give her a general power-of-attorney but when she is not physically standing next to me how will the person to whom I’m speaking and who is demanding my signature, know that I have authorised the pre-signed cheque?  Clearly there is a procedure as I’m not the first person to find myself in this position, so I must make some enquiries.

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1 Comment

  • Duncan Johnson says:

    Hi Mark,

    We spoke yesterday with regard to the RICS Business magazine. May I first congratulate you on a tremendous website – the design is superb and frankly far superior to anything the RICS has been able to muster.

    Your anecdote about the tuk tuk sums up much of what I believe your blog has set out to achieve, that timeless and peculiarly British combination of the tragic with the comedic! More than that though, it reminds me of an experience of my own several years ago while I was working in India. Flash floods had caught the city of Bangalore and myself off guard. I was in a tuk tuk (in India they call them auto-rickshaws) on the way to a business meeting when myself and the driver became marooned three-feet deep in rain water. As the water level rose the driver became increasingly concerned for my welfare, needlessly but the sentiment was remarkable nonetheless. He was more concerned for the fate of my suit and brogues than for his livelihood – the auto-rickshaw.

    A crowd began to gather at the side of the road and offers of help soon followed. Before I knew it three men were offering to carry me to dry land. Me, an able-bodied chap of 6ft. I refused and suggested instead that we all get together and help carry the auto-rick to safety and the flood continued to rise. The suggestion was met with some puzzled looks but finally a senior figure in this sodden band of complete strangers gave his nod of approval, and we got stuck in.

    I haven’t reflected on my time in India for some time and have you to thank for that. Indeed, I’ve now gone and booked flights out there as a surprise treat for my wife! If the bank manager complains I’ll blame you, if I may.

    Apologies Mark, I’m rambling now but I just wanted to follow up our conversation and assure you that I’ll do everything I can to raise awareness about your blog. It’s actually my 31st birthday today so I’m away from the office, but upon my return next Tuesday I’ll pursue this with the RICS and be touch thereafter.

    Again, fabulous site and I look forward to reading plenty more.

    Kind regards


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