Monday, January 31, 2011

Shattered of a Sudden

That head-floating, gut-wrenching, muscle-nagging shatteredness wraps me of a sudden in its embrace. Yesterday the deeply gnawing muscle spasms, in limbs and torso, felt like a rebuke for having deigned to commit myself to Friday's minor exertions. At times it seems like a game of damned if ... (damned if you do, damned if you don't); accepting one's limitations is an important step towards avoiding a nightmare roller-coaster experience but, in that acceptance one also risks accepting a pretty colourless plateau of existence.

I've always been fortunate in having a rich life of the imagination, and a naggingly active spirituality; this has meant that the health imposed curtailing of my socializing activities didn't lead me into an immediate state of desolation. I have to admit though that the loss of contact with many people, especially those who I'd considered to be my friends, is something that I still find difficult, when I allow my mind to go there, more than seven years on from succumbing to this wretched illness.

At least I understand this early evening's sudden yielding to shatteredness; a connection with last night's discomfortingly disturbed sleep pattern seems pretty obvious! Expressing my dis-ease in words, in some way, alleviates its claustrophobic grip

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Testing The Limits

Sometimes the stamina, or at least a small portion of it, seems to have returned along with a lurking fear that it's only a mirage. At first one treats it with caution, only too well aware of the consequence of any over exertion but, one is always tempted to test the limits. I've already suffered a moderate setback, in terms of feeling discomfortedly knocked out (rather more dis-eased than my familiar norm) on Thursday as a result of attending the meeting on Tuesday, even though the actual attendance there proved a great morale booster.

Wednesday found my beloved back at the dentist, her earlier trials and tribulations not yet at an end.

After Thursday mornings painfully aching shatteredness, a fresh influx of stamina seemed to come my way by Friday afternoon and, I actually managed to transfer some of the compost from the bottom of our (compost) bin across to one of the garden borders. The garden always seems to reward us well, in terms of floral display; a disproportionate gratitude for our puny endeavours.

Thursday and Friday both saw an abundance of avian visitors to our garden, nothing new, but a fair cross selection of our familiar visitors, goldfinches, blue tits, dunnocks, sparrows, blackbirds, robin, wood pigeon, collared doves, chaffinch etc but then, today saw only a very sparse sprinkling of any variety. Until this evening I'd forgotten all about the Big Garden Birdwatch so, I'll have to set an hour aside tomorrow, regardless of how representative it turns out to be!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Much Ado about Something

I still wait, in vain, for a stamina infusion but, I'm simultaneously resigned to such a miracle witholding its appearance. At least I managed to attend the Labour Party branch AGM last evening but, didn't have the physical or emotional reserves to hang around for the potentially more interesting ordinary meeting which followed it. It was good to meet some of the other party members and, get a feel for the prevalent mood and spectrum of its activists.

Although physically fairly shattered from this outing, the mental stimulus prevented me from getting a truly restful nights sleep. Actually, having just made that remark, I have to acknowledge that 'refreshing' sleep is, in my case, honoured more by its absence.

My beloved had an appointment with her dentist this morning, to have the majorly offending tooth extracted but, once more the visit took a disproportionate toll. On this occasion part of the problem was that the gum beneath the extracted tooth was still infected, despite the best efforts of a double course of antibiotics and, her dentist was left wondering why the maxillo-facial / dental consultant she saw at the hospital hadn't done more!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Where I Stand

 Last night brought me a better amount of sleep, retiring at 9.30pm and emerging at around 10.30am this morning (with one or two earlier intermittent  interludes of "wakefulness") but, my whole psychosomatic being still feels rather unrefreshed. I've just recently popped out into the garden to replenish the bird feeders and, subsequently witnessed a modest increase in the number of avian visitors to our estate! 
As I don't seem to have sufficient emotional stamina, at present, to do a proper post, I thought I'd share a comment I left last evening on one of the blog sites (The Socialist Way) that I frequently visit, as I think it reasonably summarizes where I stand politically.

Malcolm said...
It's a truism that Parliament will never be the means by which socialism, or any kind of equitable society, can be established - indeed the whole capitalist apparatus is antipathetic to fairness. This purportedly democratic system seems destined to control us, via the dictatorship of business and media moguls, as well as the armed and police forces, for a considerable time yet. Having said that, I did rejoin the Labour Party last year, not under an illusion that they will bring about any kind of anti-capitalist change but, in the vain hope that they may be restored to a party prepared to proclaim the aims of clause 4 part 4, and move (albeit only marginally) towards its enactment. One can but dream! What I've always found even more upsetting than the Labour Party's betrayal of the very people who established the original Labour Representation Committee, is the constant factional bickering between cadres of sundry revolutionary socialist groupings. (I have to admit that I wasted a fair amount of my younger years inadvertently entangled in the resulting schismatics).

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

In A Spin

These sudden plunges still prove alarming, no matter how many times one experiences them; it's almost as if I could feel the colour draining from my face. In  an instant an overwhelming maelstrom of gut churning, muscle spasming, head spinning, washed-out giddiness, yields a fearful disorienting discomfort. A pulse racing, nauseating, vertigo veils every semblance of familiarity from one's immediate environment.

Perhaps, this time, it's a belated response to last night's extreme restlessness which was accompanied by randomised stabbing pains in the lower abdomen. My beloved arranged a GP appointment for me this morning; I was about due for a review, in any case, to check whether my current increased ppi dosage was proving beneficial. Today I saw a different doctor from the practice and, she has decided to try me on a different ppi, and has set up a further appointment for three weeks time to check on progress etc.

At the moment, my gastro-oesophageal problems seem to be in competition with other muscular aches, pains and spasms, in an attempt to grab my full attention.

Saturday, January 15, 2011



and this morning
still abed  
my legs
are mercury laden
knitted lead

the arms
folded or stretched  
scream out
for postures new

Malcolm Evison

Friday, January 14, 2011


Last night, I once again pursued a pattern of erratically intermittent unrefreshing sleep; the primary evidence that I slept at all is the vague memory of awaking from rather fraught dreams. Of course there’s always the possibility that the memory itself is a false one.

That old familiar sensation, of sharply bruised aching discomfort emanating from the armpits, returned with a vengeance and, I was forced to remove my (not overly tight fitting) pyjama jacket to escape a sense of torso choking strangulation – armpits replacing the neck as the constricted airway. At this stage even my PJ trousers seemed to become an instrument of torture, the groin area coming out in sympathy with the armpits, and so were duly removed.

Unfortunately, as a result of the restless night, I lacked sufficient stamina to attend the funeral / thanksgiving service for a friend of mine and I am struggling to prevent this non-attendance adding to that burden of guilt about which I wrote yesterday.

On a more positive note, my beloved is finally starting to show signs of recovery from the events of last Monday and was able to attend the service along with Beth.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Guilt Thing rears its head!

Just wish I could get over this guilt thing, it's getting worse if anything! For health reasons the majority of my social and political campaigning is done online, rarely do I have sufficient stamina to get out to attend vigils and / or meetings and, each time I receive notification of such events the guilt intensifies. It's almost as if I feel guilty for having a chronic health condition.

Of course it was with a great sense of relief I attained state pension age in 2009; having been dependent upon receiving benefits, for which one had to crawl and squirm through prohibitive hoops and obstacles, for a few years prior to that (following on from a reasonably productive period of working life which started when I left school in 1960) it was refreshing to receive my pension entitlement without having to perform such degrading gymnastics.

My greatest pleasure is derived from the familiar environs of home and garden, managing to do a little painting and writing when physical and emotional stamina permit as well as taking photos and videos of the garden's flora and fauna*. Stamina levels are frequently sufficient to manage the cooking, a wonderful creative outlet, and I am also fortunate in being able to cope with infrequent brief visits into town and even, on occasion, enjoying a dining out experience.

I suppose the guilt has intensified over the last few days, when I have become more aware of my limitations whilst attempting to care for ma belle who has had a rather rough week health-wise. If she hadn't been so unwell, there's no way that I could have persuaded her that she wasn't fit enough to go to work, or attend a church executive meeting; her great ability is to push through the barriers of exhaustion in order that she should not let anybody down.

 Admittedly, there was a time when I could quite happily burn the candle at both ends, whereas I now find the same candle frequently splutters itself out whilst so much remains to be done.

Most recently, I'd really love to attend the midnight vigil, being held this Saturday at Menwith Hill (USA spy base) just a few miles from our home, to mark 20 years of conflict in Iraq (1991 - 2011). Recent days have found me in bed by half-past eight in the evening, emerging from the duvet lair some 14 or 15 hours later, so attendance at this vigil is far from being practicable.

An attempt at a minor task of DIY, erecting a small bracket on masonry in our new porch for a Solar Sensor Light, resulted in the most frustrating failure. If I can't even manage to drill and plug a couple of holes succesfully, even being wearily overwhelmed in the attempt, my presence at any event is unlikely to be felt or missed!


* PS new visitors to our garden this week included Waxwings and Fieldfares - unfortunately both species proved a little camera shy (or maybe I was just too slow getting off my backside)!

Monday, January 10, 2011

An Unexpected Turn

Sometimes events take a turn far removed from the familiar; today was such a case. This morning I managed to get myself down to ‘Open Church’, for the first time since my pre-Christmas collapse there. Wrapped up in a warm overcoat and armed with an umbrella I boldly strode my way and, once there enjoyed some really stimulating conversation.

On my way back home I called in at the bakers to collect the wholemeal loaf so, there I was, open umbrella held in one hand and a loaf of bread in the other, heading for home when my mobile begins to ring. To be honest, this was one of very few occasions that I’d bothered to switch it on; I’ve never understood the necessity of holding telephonic conversations whilst ambling down the road. It was quite a juggling act to transfer the instrument from coat pocket to the proximity of my ear, encumbered as I was.

The voice at the other end, my elder step-daughter Beth, tells me that she doesn’t want to worry me but my beloved has been rushed to hospital. She’d apparently been taken ill whilst at the dentists. I knew that she was going to try to make an appointment, having been woken in the night with really painful toothache from an area where she’d lost a filling about a week ago. Although quite wiped out, energy-wise, she’d travelled over to her work in Wetherby, early this morning, where I subsequently discovered, she’d already begun to feel sick before arranging the appointment with her dentist back in Harrogate. The dentist had taken an x-Ray, and informed her that she would need a course of antibiotics to tackle an abscess, before she came over really ill.

Beth picked me up and ran me to the hospital where I found an atypically flush faced and cold-handed Helen. Her blood pressure had sky rocketed, once again very unusual for ma belle who traditionally has a remarkably (but healthily) low BP. Fortunately the ECG results showed no cause for concern and sundry blood samples were taken before she was sent for an X-Ray of the jaw. Whilst I waited with ma belle, Beth, with assistance from Cathy’s partner Ken, was able to get into town to collect her Mum’s car and deliver it back home for us. As a non-driver, I was of little use in these circumstances. Helen subsequently saw a consultant in the Maxillo Facial Surgery who made a few incisions and prescribed two lots of antibiotics.  

On several occasions, in the past couple of years, ma belle has had to come and hold my hand in A&E; today the tables were turned. I so frequently worry about the burden my ill health imposes upon my beloved, realizing how mutually dependent we are; today my concern was how helpless I may be if the burden of care shifted the other way. It was so fortuitous that Beth happened to have some holiday days this week and so, was available to perform such a valuable chauffeuring and messaging duties.

Once again I must express my gratitude to the NHS, especially the staff in A&E at Harrogate District Hospital. I only wish that the Health Service was in safer hands than those of the Tory ConDem coalition.

Friday, January 07, 2011

is it or isn't it?

If only it was possible to tell whether a symptom / ailment is that of a different illness rather than a further manifestation of the ongoing chronic condition! A cohort of gastro-intestinal, gastro-oesophageal, excruciating muscular and glandular aches and pains, brain-fog, orthostatic intolerance, sensory overload, chest and upper-abdominal pains, post-exertional malaise, cognitive dysfunction, can all be part of the underlying ME whilst, at the same time, any of these states could be symptomatic of another dis-ease or condition.

At what point does one call a GP or paramedics, without being considered a time-waster, as certain of the symptoms produce a distinctly different and disturbing awareness of one’s general condition. Frequently tests for a specific ailment or symptom come up with a negative result, rarely is a more holistic approach taken regarding one’s state of (well)being.

In recent months I’ve had several health scares, some that could be dealt with via surgery or medication whilst others have no apparent cause! The frustration of uncertainty tends to rebound against one’s residual wellness – a vicious cycle.

Sorry, I don’t mean to be on a downer; I’m just a bit fed-up of not feeling well.

 It’s now well over seven years since I last felt really well but, at least I’m grateful that I’m only a ‘moderate’ sufferer. At least I’ve been blessed with a considerable portion of remission days, for which I give thanks, and  a wonderful wife and lover (who happens to be one and the same person)!

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Atherton Walking Day 1950

Atherton Walking Day (24 June 1950)
Atherton Walking Day (25 June 1950)

Having just uncovered these two photographs, releasing them from their glass and passepartout frames, a sudden surge of nostalgia overwhelmed me ( memories of mugs of black peas during Wakes week in  this Lancashire town - came to the fore!).

On the back of the makeshift frames, my father (who was at that time a pastor with the International Holiness Mission - soon to be taken over by the Church of the Nazarene) had written the dates as shown above. I know that the 24th June was a Saturday so, I suspect that is more likely to be the correct date.

Church walking days seemed to have been a strong tradition in the North West of England but, I've been unable to confirm the date of such walks in Atherton. My first instinct was to think it would have been a Whitsuntide walk as such events were held in some of the other chapels, scattered around the country, that I attended during my childhood, but that would have been at the end of  May (not June). I have subsequently discovered that different churches in different parts of the North West held their walks on different days.

Just hoping that, on an off-chance, someone reading this may be able to answer my question regarding the date of this walk.

Incidentally, the David arrowed in my crude annotation is my elder brother.

(clicking on either image will take you to a larger copy of the picture)

Monday, January 03, 2011

Customer Dis-service


Several weeks ago, part way through an online transaction - transferring money from a savings account to the account of my wife (with the same bank) - I was suddenly denied access and, informed after a prolonged telephonic confrontation that my access would be restored within 48 hours.

Less than twenty-four hours later my access was restored. On this occasion, part way through my visit I was met with a screen displaying the following information:

Service Interruption

One or more of our systems are temporarily unavailable.

This means that you will not be able to proceed at this time.

We are aware of the problem, and hope to fix it soon, so please
try again later. We apologise for any inconvenience.

On each subsequent attempt to access my accounts, my password and security questions having been accepted, I am greeted with the same message. This bank holds one of our joint current accounts, as well as individual savings and credit card accounts but, I am unable to access any of these.

Meantime, my wife has no such proble accessing our joint and her personal accounts but, unfortunately has no access to my individual accounts. I have tried using different pc’s, laptop and desktop, and using different browsers – all this effort to no avail. Even during a ‘phone call to the bank’s helpline, I was encouraged to attempt to sign in using my wife’s laptop and once more met with the same screen message. A ‘phone call, made by my wife this evening, to try and sort out the problem proved less useful than the proverbial chocolate fireguard.

Even if I enjoyed better health I would be totally exasperated, as it is the situation serves to make me feel even more unwell.