Saturday, April 29, 2006

All Change

8.15AM, my beloved answers the bedside telephone, to be told the new comfortable chairs are already on their way. Ten minutes later, the doorbell rings, Helen opens the door and, the chairs are brought in. It's so unusual these days to receive such prompt service that one can easily forgive an early morning 'phone call!

Tomorrow morning at 10.00AM the bulky, far too yielding, sofa will be evacuated from these premises, en route to its new home in Starbeck. The new chairs cry out for me to make an impression.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Bliss was it in those days

I have frequently heard that “a little goes a long way” and, I have just realized how much a little incorrect posture lives on in the memory, with constant reminders from a de-conditioned body. Yesterday afternoon, I expended a modicum of energy trimming the roots of a couple more pond plants, bending my spine rather than my knees in the process. Within a very short period, during which I sat on an all too yielding sofa, the base of my spine was most definitely in need of a bit of TLC. The tender loving care was supplied by ma belle amoureuse, as she carefully massaged and applied Ibuprofen Gel to the afflicted area. In the course of the evening, both Ibuprofen and paracetamol tablets were summoned to my aid.

Needless to say, the process of getting undressed was much impaired by my spinal sensitivity. [There, I’ve said it anyhow!] The back proving even more discomforting, as I set off for a routine appointment with my GP, this morning seemed to be crying out for action. I suddenly realized just how frequently I’d felt muscular and spinal twinges after sitting, for any period of time, on the offending comfy (?) sofa. Next port of call was to a furniture shop in town, where my beloved had been trying to lead me for several weeks past, and looked at a comfortably supporting two seater sofa. Having recognized a fellow back-pain sufferer, the proprietor then drew my attention to an upholstered ladder back chair and … wow … comfort and good posture could be sensed immediately. Within the course of the next couple of days we will be taking delivery of a couple of these beautiful and practical items of furniture. There are times when you simply ‘know’ something is right!

Beth and her partner have been ogling our offending sofa for sometime now so, they will be doing us a favour by taking it off our hands. Bliss was it to be young, when an ‘obviously’ comfortable, overly yielding, floppily designed sofa could be taken at seat and bum value without any of the deleterious effects that beset these older bones and sinews.

Monday, April 24, 2006

One Step At A Time

I’ve been carefully monitoring, or at least imagining, the results of my slower paced but more frequent walks, even though it’s really too soon to recognize any signs of significant improvement / regression. A minor part of the theory behind the slower paced walking seems to be less sensory overload; I certainly find that my powers of observation as I walk seem more finely tuned. The earlier breathing discipline, set by the same therapist, seems to enhance my ‘relaxation’ as I perform some of the routine almost unconsciously. Last Thursday evening as I lay back with the magic needles inserted in my limbs, the acupuncturist commented on how well I was “breathing”.

Over the past few days I’ve been able to manage to fit in a few more tasks (moderate exertion) on top of my gentle perambulations. Most mornings are still pretty washed-out events and, I’m still not ready for much socializing but, I generally feel that things are moving in the right direction.

Bring It On - Rummy to be fired and Cheney to Resign?

Bring it On! � Blog Archive � Rummy To Be Fired and Cheney To Resign?

Hazardous to Africa's Health

Factsheet from Africa Action - The World Bank: Hazardous to Africa's Health.
Africa Action: Resources and Information

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Going With The Flow

Yesterday, after a slow muzzy-headed start to the day, I almost felt awake by midday. In the afternoon, ma belle Helene collected me and took me over to Anne-Marie’s where I managed to fix a few minor glitches on her PC running Windows ‘95 with MS Office ’97. When it comes to dealing with these minor glitches, I tend to be intuitive rather than knowledgeable in my approach. Having had my halo polished, as reward for my minor efforts, we were homeward bound; unfortunately, come evening I reverted to a state of hollow restlessness. An earlier night seemed to be in order but, even then, I failed to emerge into the new day before 11.00am.

Once I’d managed to remove myself from the duvet’s entanglement, things didn’t seem to improve; an excruciating headache, emanating from the neck and behind the ears, wasn’t exactly the most welcome start to a new day. A general state of restlessness was alleviated, to some extent, by a slow 30 minute stroll with my beloved although, a startling degree of dis-ease remained.

Out of a sense of frustration, I decided to see if I could sort out the longstanding problem with the pond-pump. Where the lead had been re-jointed, on installation, the sealant had somehow allowed water to permeate hence the frequent ‘tripping’ of the switch. Having first cleaned the filters from our filtration unit, replenishing the unit with good bacteria, I attached a plug to the original length of power cable for the pump … et voila … it was working once more after nearly half a year’s idleness! You can’t imagine just how delightful it was to hear the water splashing into the pond; a hybrid of a horse peeing and a swiftly flowing mountain stream.

Next task was to remove the plug once more and, insert the lead through a length of reinforced hosepipe before routing it beneath the edge of the greenhouse to the power source. The assistance of my beloved was invaluable in this and subsequent tasks; we make a great team! With all the rain we’ve had recently, the task of lifting a few sods from the lawn to bury the pipe was far easier than we’d anticipated.

Although I’m currently aching, in muscles of whose existence I was previously unaware, I can collapse back onto the sofa in the sure and certain knowledge that my halo will not need re-burnishing for some considerable time!

Thursday, April 20, 2006


Yesterday, quite out of the blue, I was under-whelmed by a sense of hollowness and restlessness. A passively negative experience indeed!  As I flicked through the pages of ‘PC Advisor’, checked my e-mails and, surfed the web, nothing seemed to hold my attention; concentration had returned to an all too familiar low. It was almost as if my mind was alert to its own lack of content! And yet, for quite prolonged periods I was all too content. My beloved wrongly surmised that I may be out of ciggys, whilst I misguidedly thought a bit more web-surfing may stimulate some sort of purposefulness to my evening.

Eventually, Mickey, Donald and Goofy in  ‘The Three Musketeers’ provided a little distraction from my distractedness.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The exponential growth of the undesirable

Some things just don’t change. I managed to give a goodly portion of the lawn its first trim of the season and, as usual, became overly aware of the preponderance of moss along one edge. Elsewhere, a motley crew of weeds are depriving the grass of its lebensraum! No matter whether the winter is mild or, as was the case this season, unusually cold, the productivity of undesirables remains undiminished. On the positive side, some of the wild flower seeds sprinkled in the wildlife area of the lawn appear to be germinating; it’s really quite strange that I should loathe the weeds in one area whilst I encourage wild flowers at the far end of the lawn.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Plumbing the depths

Over the past few days, the pond has provided a sufficiency of exertion to cater for my restricted abilities. A slow, gradual, process of root trimming of the marginal reeds, netting out some of the sludgy sediment, removing the bare-bones residue of the oxygenating plants, were ample tasks for a couple of days. Next day, tended to one of the water lilies, prepared and installed a fresh batch of oxygenating weed before I set about fretting over what remains to be done. Much as I enjoy being able to perform these routine tasks, pond-keeping can at times become an onerous responsibility

A treatment with SludgeBuster has now been applied, alongside a goodly sprinkling of BioStart to encourage the good bacteria. The only problem currently extant is the pond-pump! Having replaced the pump last summer, towards the end of the season it kept ‘tripping’ and, this year it won’t even utter a simple mechanical groan or let a single drop of water pass its lips! A process of elimination has established that phase one of the wiring, to the lower garden shed is in good order. A further test has established that the power supply to the protected socket in the greenhouse is also in good working order; the problem is either with the pump itself or with a jointed cable connection between the greenhouse and the pump itself.

Last year, an electrician who specializes in this sort of work was going to renew the wiring but, the task was postponed as he was unable to find a lackey to dig out a trench for a re-vamped scheme. Whilst it would be good to re-establish our filtration system, at the moment I don’t know whether I’m prepared to cope with the upheaval or the expense. When I feel sufficiently energized, I may unfasten the additional jointing of the cable (between the socket in the greenhouse and the pump itself), if I can get at it, and attach a plug to the portion of cable closest to the pump, in order to test whether the pump is still in working order. Although the pump came with a 3 year warranty, it could well have been invalidated by the extended cable having been attached!

These little tasks, which I have felt compelled to undertake, would have perhaps taken me half-a-day in total in those distant times when energy reserves weren’t at such a premium. Being the more disciplined person (through circumstance not choice) that I now am, each brief working interlude is terminated at a point where I still have a modicum of stamina in reserve.

Easter Greetings

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

APPLYING THE BRAKES - To Keep Moving Forward

Or perhaps, the heading should have read reducing the number of revs. Today was my second visit to Julie, the Occupational Therapist in the Chronic Fatigue Unit. We were trying to sort out whether my preference would be for “plateauing” or continuing “boom and bust” at a somewhat contained level. Initially, and as I wrote these words, I felt that the preference must be for the plateau approach as, for all I love and enjoy my brief bursts of energy, I totally loathe their all too frequent painfully washed out aftermath. Julie already recognizes the ease with which I can enter into a state of “bored restlessness” so arrangements are going to be something of a compromise.

First I must find the plateau before I can gradually start to raise the bar; the plateau is at far lower altitude than it would have been three years ago, and gully scrambling when I reach the foot of an adjacent mountain is out of the question. As a starter on my quest, my aim is to find a regular walking circuit (on fairly level ground) and, attempt to walk it at least three times per week. The brisk element of my fairly brief walks is a no-no; this is where the brakes are to be applied! The route I follow should be of about 20-30 minutes duration at a slow/steady speed. This steadiness of pace is going to prove difficult some days, I already noticed that a slower pace does not come easily to me, as I strolled back to the car with my beloved following the consultation; even when I have no choice in the matter (and the limbs can only move in low gear), I tend to become intensely frustrated but … for the moment … discipline is all.

The wonderful, occasionally stressful, breathing exercises which I sometimes managed to discipline myself into, are there as a reserve toolkit in case of entering into potentially stressful / panic provoking situations. Deep breathing is far preferable to hyper-ventilating!

I move slowly towards my goal; the goal is yet to be determined!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Jaded and Restless - still hazy after all these years

Washed out, that’s the only way to describe my state of being yesterday; for all my enjoyment of Saturday’s socializing, albeit of a mere 90 minutes duration, it seemed to have taken its toll. I have to admit that I did manage a brief, several degrees removed from brisk, walk with my beloved. Somehow, no matter what effort I attempted to put into the ‘leg stretch’, the lower limbs failed to respond adequately to my effort/desire! Basically, it proved a day of totally de-energized restlessness although, come mid-evening I managed to settle down to enjoy a couple of episodes of ‘Ally McBeal’.

This morning, as I slept through my wife’s emergence from the duvet lair and, her trip to the supermarket for the week’s main grocery shopping, I was totally zonked-out. My emergence into ‘the world of the awakened’ was accompanied by a painfully strangulated muzzy-headedness; the world could only be viewed in a bleary-eyed manner but, the worst excesses of this state of being have now, thankfully, dissipated.

I intend to rejoice in this day the Lord has made but, I am also aware that, all too frequently, a different reality can come between intention and actuality!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Showing us around

Last evening was a combination of intense frustration and remarkable qualities of perseverance. The perseverance didn’t lead to a complete resolution of the computing glitches, which were the source of the frustration. The problem was primarily to do with my home network, which persistently insisted on denying me access to its resources. It’s quite strange to be denied any rights on a network which I established some considerable time ago. My general state of weariness prevented me from carrying out some other routine tasks but, being the stubborn critter that I am, I struggled on (too long) against all odds! The result was an excruciating headache this morning and to my shame, I succumbed (for once) to the lure of painkillers. Being a reluctant NSAID user, their efficacy on this occasion was quite remarkable.

This afternoon we visited Helen’s niece Esther, husband Alfie and their two adorable children, 16 months old Hannah and 3 year old Joshua. They’re currently over here on a visit from the US of A and, have had a pretty hectic schedule thus far. I’m really pleased that I found the stamina to make the visit and, enjoyed playing with some of their wonderful toys. Before we left his grannys’ house, Joshua (who was a little off-colour when we arrived) led us on a guided tour of every cupboard and drawer in the newly refurbished kitchen … a natural born Estate Agent! He then led us into the adjoining room to show us the piano and, he promptly took out a musical score and performed an impromptu discordant composition, to which he sang almost melodically!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Taking a breather - and other productivity issues ..

A beautifully bright, if somewhat chilly day; having spent some time by the garden pond, watching the baby goldfish I returned to the house. Guess what; fish were still on the agenda, only this time it was as an item on the menu, as I char-grilled some salmon along with peppers, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes to top a couple of large jacket potatoes.

After lunch, I stepped out for a brief brisk walk (at least 35 minutes duration) with my beloved. As we walked amongst the trees, the winds murmurs almost turned into song but, as we turned to face it head on, and tears rolled down our cheeks, the realization struck me that the song originated in much chillier climes.

Prior to my pre-lunch pond watch, I’d even managed to post some more work on PoemHunter so, I feel as if it has been quite a productive day.

Even my breathing exercises went more smoothly this morning, managing the full slow seven count on the in-breath to a ten or eleven count on the out-breath. My big discovery is that nasal exhalation only, sans pursed lips (rather than as suggested by the therapist), helps me retain control over the inhalation routine. Breathing didn’t seem quite such a strenuous occupation.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Murky Depths

Yesterday, the rainfall seemed much heavier than the proverbial “April showers” whereas today, we have once again returned to spasmodic wintry hail/sleet showers. The garden pond shows little evidence of goldfish life today and, so far this season all I have observed are the triplets introduced to the pond, from the aquarium, last May. Is it too soon to say that we’ve lost Tag, Babe, Blaze and Blondie, the longer term residents or, are they too well aware of the vagaries of the English climate to have bothered to surface? On two or three occasions, I have sited a baby fish but, the elders of the pond are either defunct or still wallowing in the murky depths.

The White Cloud Minnows, in our aquarium, constantly make us aware of their presence!


My breathing/relaxation exercise is still, at times, proving stress-provoking rather than rest-inducing. More frequently than not, a four to five slow count for the in-breath is all I can manage. The need to swallow, spurred on by my excessive saliva and mucus production, has a rather devastating effect on the counted flow of both in and out breaths. Oh, what a wimp I am. I feel sure that, after the initial counted breaths, my breathing is closer to a 6/10 pattern for much of the remainder of the set aside period!

I’m still struggling with the discipline of breathing exercises three times per day. Relaxation is such darned hard work. Perhaps the old guard of goldfish have also experienced breathing problems …