Thursday, December 20, 2012

To Sleep Perchance ...

Just what’s going on in my body; I neither understand nor have the appropriate vocabulary to realistically express it. Sometimes I can feel mentally/emotionally well whilst my body feels excruciatingly below par; I didn’t think this was supposed to happen! At other times, whilst my corporeal aches and pains are in temporary abeyance, I can feel emotionally drained. I sometimes wonder if the sundry prescribed medications I take can become part of the problem.

I regularly resort to mebeverine (antispasmodic) to deal with my spastic colon/IBS; at other times a little motility aid such as domperidone (dopamine antagonist) is required. Alongside these I always have to take lansoprazole (proton pump inhibitor) to tackle a major gastric reflux problem.

I have recently been taking a small dose of sertraline daily, to deal with an anxiety/reactive depression issue, whilst at night 30mg amitriptyline is prescribed to assist (theoretically) with sleep and pain management. Currently, I also need to take 100mg tramadol a couple of times a day to deal with muscular and neurological pain.

That little diversion, into a pharmacopoeia, was not intentional; it just seemed easier to scribble down than a description of how exhaustedly crap I’d been feeling in the past couple of days. Sadly I’ve had to forego a couple of Christmas social evenings this week, both of which I’d been looking forward to; mind you, that simply reflects my general lack of physical and emotional stamina since 2003.

When I do manage to sleep, I’ve recently been having very vivid audio visual Technicolor dreams, not infrequently drifting from ultra normal situations, with many familiar faces, into the edge of nightmare territory. In one such dream friendly banter amongst friends took an horrific turn as an ogre broke into the room. The ogre, which I understood to be a “Cam-Moron”, had a smug superior grin as his cheeks blushed with roseate anger. “We’re going to put all you lot down”, he sneered. At that point I woke up to a fuller realization of what the ConDems were doing to the poor and vulnerable! 


this post also appears on 'Mals Murmurings' under the title 'We Are Such Stuff ...'

Saturday, December 08, 2012

it was thirty two years ago today - 8 December '80

This poem was an impromptu response to hearing the news:



They say imagine

no more humane songs

and this at Christmas –


the fir trees baubles

weighted many-fold

like lead. He finds


his final peace

through this destruction –

no longer shall he ache


for universal love.

Crushed like a beetle

closer to Colorado


than his scouser’s home.


Perhaps gun-toting Reagan

will sleep in peace, relieved

at another “pinko’s” demise.


             Malcolm Evison – 9 December 1980

Friday, November 23, 2012

Rare day

 One of those rare sunshiny bright (albeit chilly) mornings drew me up the garden (lack of) path. Task one was to net out kilos of fallen leaves from the pond, and applying same to garden borders. That task completed, I set to refilling our sundry bird feeders to add a further gleam to my nascent halo!


Such was the sun’s effect on my morale that, once back in the house, I forgot to turn the fire on until the chill had begun to gnaw its way into my corporeal being. It wasn’t too long after that when the old familiar aches and pains began to make a negative impression on my sense of well-being. It wasn’t long before the aches in arms and feet induced feelings of nausea. Next thing, a light-headed giddiness hit in as an accompaniment to a sudden, simultaneous, onset of dyspepsia and flatulence.


Wrists strapped and tramadol ingested, I rested a while before swallowing lansoprazole and mebeverine in advance preparation for an early evening meal. Thankfully, the intensity of the muscular pains soon settled to a more manageable level and the nausea discharged itself from my psyche.  


As the indigestion settled down a little, I ventured into the kitchen and griddled a couple of oak-smoked salmon fillets, accompanied by a gently spiced stir-fry of red peppers, cherry tomatoes and mushrooms (marinated in a garlic, turmeric, tikka and soy sauce concoction) sprinkled with a few flakes of oak-smoked sea salt.


And that was my day … so far!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

normality may be resumed ...


Back to normality; these days I’m somewhat at a loss when trying to describe what is normal for me. At what point on the scale (and intensity) of regular aches, pains and general discomfort, lies my norm? Pain free days are a fondly remembered experience, albeit never fully appreciated at the time but, rather taken for granted.


Last weekend, feeling a lot more at ease and alert than I had done for some considerable time, I carried out a few extra tasks on the Saturday and was relieved to have an equally good, although more restful, day on the Sunday. Tuesday and Wednesday were the days I suffered payback, from the weekend’s exertion; almost all parts of torso and limbs took pleasure in competing for the max discomfort trophy. Shatteredly de-energized, all became a struggle; it even seemed to require a tremendous effort of willpower to enable me to partake of a little light dietary sustenance.


Thankfully, that more extreme discomfort has eased and I’m now back to that elusive norm, where I’m able to concentrate on whatever I’m listening to, observing or reading. Perhaps that is what I should take to be my norm; those days when the gift of concentration is restored/present; the rest is simply passing time!


Watching the Red Kite riding the thermals, in clear view from my comfortable armchair, at times circling low down over the top end of the garden, brought a little brightness to a drearily grey gloomy day. And once again I celebrate the joy of being here and now, privileged in being loved and ready to share that love, in what can sometimes be a cruel and heartless world, ruled by greed and self-interest


I really must count my blessings!

Friday, November 09, 2012

Poppy Day Dilemmas

As both a Christian and a Socialist, I always have problems with the celebration of militarism otherwise known as Poppy Day. Whether or not I would have had sufficient strength of character to stand by my pacifist principles in extreme circumstances is something that used to cause me considerable concern but, there are also other issues involved.

Much soul searching was involved, even when I had attempted to renounce my Xtian faith and, subsequently joined a revolutionary socialist organization. Don't get me wrong, I was already a socialist when I became a Christian, and failed to see the apparent necessity of taking on the petty bourgeois pretensions & morality that seemed to be the norm for evangelicals those days and saw communism, in an idealistic sense, as being far more compatible with Christianity than capitalism.

I moved freely between and amongst various groupings of the left, dismayed by much of the ideological bickering; I did manage however to retain friendships, in spite of (doctrinal) difficulties with members of factional groupings other than the one for which I settled.Too many of my comrades seemed to revel in the prospect of a good rumble, one could almost sense them salivating at the prospect of a bloody uprising. I consoled myself with the thought that bloodshed, like class warfare, is generally instigated by the capitalist ruling class and therefore resistance to their unjust power structures, which could only be maintained by the use of force, became a moral imperative.

But what of turning the other cheek; to be honest that may be the only option when confronted with the combined might of military and police, should the true wealth creators, the working class, attempt to fight for a truly just and democratic society where real equality of opportunity for everyone in a society focussed on care for one's neighbour. Bear in mind that I use neighbour in the broadest sense, that of the parable of the good Samaritan not the cynicism of "charity begins at home". To turn the other cheek is an expression of disdain for the values of those who rule by force. I did decide,however, that if I was able to shake off the shackles of my religious faith I would be happy to take up arms in the cause of a workers revolution. At the same time I recognized that there was no way I could take up arms for Queen and country, the capitalist cause. A complex dilemma indeed; the message and life of Jesus had so firmly grasped me that I still felt guilty at my readiness. albeit hypothetical, to take up arms for a revolutionary cause.

I fully appreciate the preparedness of young people, often from socially deprived areas of the nation, to join the armed forces in order to learn a trade and earn a living. Since the politically wilful destruction of our industrial base other job opportunities are greatly restricted. Nor do I doubt that many military personnel are serving in support of deeply held principles, whether understandably honourable or misguided is here irrelevant. For me a major scandal of the Poppy Appeal is that the welfare of those who have served their nation, and it's capitalist cause, should be dependent in any way upon charitable donations. It is the responsibility of the state that recruits, employs and puts the lives of these young men at risk,for whatever ideological motivation, to look after them.

I regret the loss of life of civilians and military personnel equally; I abhor the slaughter of innocents on the imperialist whim of any ruling elite. Should there come a Remembrance Day with no uniformed military personnel or insignia on display, at Cenotaphs and commemorative church services, I would no longer see the commemorations as show of support for militarism but, rather an acknowledgement of the futility of war.
This post originally appeared on 10 November 2010

Monday, November 05, 2012

of bugs and fishy business

Nausea, dizziness, diarrhoea are sadly all too frequently experienced by yours truly; as a result the symptoms have to reach some crisis point before I’ll seek medical help. Such was the case towards the end of last week when a bug really did lay me low. On the Wednesday I’d felt giddily disorientated from the moment I first attempted to raise myself from the bed and get dressed; for most of the day I rested on the sofa and, by mid-afternoon, managed to eat a small portion of poached smoked haddock in spite of the onset of nausea.


Later that day I was due to carry out the second treatment of my aquarium for white spot disease but, reluctantly had to delegate this task to ma belle OH. It really is quite a rigmarole changing 36 – 40 litres of water every five days, vacuuming the gravel before renewing the treatment dosage. Fortunately, today, I felt up to the task that being my primary workload!


By Thursday morning even sipping water made me feel like retching and just the thought of food was enough to make me feel queasy. My beloved, from her workplace, had ‘phoned my GP practice to see if she could make an emergency appointment. The duty doctor called her back and said that it could be a reaction to the sertraline, which had been prescribed for me on the 17th October [the day I wrote my “Breach of Composure” post], at first suggesting that I should maybe try half a tablet, but then arranged for me to see a doctor later that day.


Having been chauffeured and hand-delivered to the surgery door by ma belle, the doctor I saw thought it unlikely that the reaction to the medication would have been so delayed. Having checked my temperature, blood pressure, and examined my acutely sensitive abdominal area, she surmised that I’d caught a bug and prescribed rest and plenty of fluids. She was more concerned about my lack of fluid intake rather than my lack of appetite (for food), she prescribed domperidone to help counter the nausea. It feels really great to have much of my appetite restored, even though my stamina reserves are even more depleted than usual.




Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Breach of Composure

And suddenly the floodgates open, tears stream down my face and, I have to admit that I’ve slipped back into a state of (re-active) depression. A few references on a DVD to Christmas, and other (potentially harmless) mentions of future plans, supplied both trigger and detonator.


I cannot cope with planning on any scale; the stress of risking letting others down by not materializing (at the proposed event) almost outweighs the risk of social isolation by avoiding pre-planning. I’ve always preferred spontaneity to planning and, these days, I can only venture out to any function at such time that physical and emotional stamina levels permit.


For weeks now I’ve gone to bed wondering if I’ll still be around for my beloved; at other times, during the day I sometimes feel so washed out and painfully exhausted that I’m hoping and praying that I’ll still be alive when ma belle returns from work. I’m sure that the endless hours of restlessness and unrefreshing sleep does little to help the situation.


Randomly recurring chest pains, most probably related to my digestive problems, sometimes take on a terrifying aspect, especially when accompanied by a whirling light headed giddiness, racing pulse and sudden pallor. I’d never have believed that one could change from shivering to sweating and back in the course of a few minutes, without any changes having occurred in one’s immediate environs, were it not for my frequent experience of such a phenomenon.


A spastic colon and mild diverticular disease tend to optimize the de-energizing  effect of the other muscular discomforts; frequently having to rush to the loo at very short notice (uncertain as to whether it’s flatulence needing release or a more explosive expulsion of organic matter) leaves one with little opportunity to regain their composure.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Progress or Regress

 Over the past few weeks I’ve managed a bit of gentle socializing, a couple of meals out at Al Bivio, lunch at Café Culture, and even a wonderful buffet lunch at Wesley followed by a stimulating talk, necessitating conversation with ones neighbours at table, from the President of Conference.


Essential as these socializing occasions are for one’s morale, I once again, misjudged the amount of activity I could manage without payback. I’m afraid my payback threshold is much lower than I’d hoped. Payback rewards usage of reserves of both emotional and physical stamina.


Shovelling compost from bin to wheelbarrow, not much more than a dozen shovel loads at that, and hence to a small section of garden border proved several shovel loads too much. Not only the refreshed aches and pains in the lumbar region but, a full torso and limbs spread of irksome twinges, peripatetic clog dancers stomped their repetitive way across and along muscles of upper and lower limbs whilst a vague dull headache gave way to waves of giddiness, as if to emphasise my reward for a job well done.


On another occasion, just changing twenty litres of water from my main aquarium was the camel’s backbreaking straw. At least the far too regularly recurring shooting pains in the upper arm (armpit to elbow and vice versa) have withdrawn their attention, in response to a more regularized tramadol habit!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

same old pains regaining confidence

A plan to wait for an upturn in my state of wellbeing, before writing another blog post, has had to be withdrawn from my agenda.




Apart from the griping gut churning abdominal spasms, a combination of regular IBS and diverticular problems, there always seems to be something extra to grab the focus of my attention. Flatulence and dyspepsia are so commonplace as to go unremarked; I only wish I could ignore the gastro-oesophageal reflux!


I still seem to be undergoing some kind of relapse, intensifying over the past few days, as acute chest, joint and muscle pains, tenderness in armpits and under jaw, join forces with the above mentioned ailments. A recently refreshed collusion between GORD and post nasal drip seems to further conspire against any hoped for sense of well-being.


Mid to late afternoon, almost as a matter of routine, that grinding nausea inducing hollow ache in the armpits sets in. On a good day, ten minutes sat with my arms pressed tight against my back alleviates the ache, to some extent; on most occasions it’s also accompanied by aching pains in elbows and/or wrists. Sometimes supports applied to wrists and elbows bring the necessary relief but, increasingly, I find that I need to resort to some strong painkillers.


Although I rarely spend less than twelve hours (night & morning) abed, I increasingly have to resort to an hour or more lying down in the course of the day, the need usually prompted by aching limbs and an unsettling aching giddy light-headedness.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Aching Days and Restless Nights

Do you ever get the feeling that the soles of your shoes are sprung lead platforms; the bass notes, from each drudge-like clomping step, resonating through the apparently hollow tubes that connect each ankle to the knee bone. Forgot to add the feeling that the tube walls themselves are composed of compressed felt, specially treated to retain an aching bruised sensation. Each several yards travelled feels like a half marathon. To be quite honest though, those are not my best days, and as for the worst days even those several yards would be well nigh impossible!

At other times there are the joyous shattered sleep deprived nights, frequently starting with a disconcerting and discomforting acute ache in the upper arm, armpit and elbow, or fitful muscular spasms in the lower limbs, a generalized sense of disorientation swiftly takes over. A complete nauseating distraction from the sleep intention seems itself incapable of distraction; sore throat, nausea, tenderness of lymph nodes, and a refreshing of one’s IBS symptoms are just about par for these wee small hours disturbances.

It always seems quite ridiculous that the more one requires refreshing sleep, the more difficult it is to attain. Neither striving nor yielding seems to result in the anticipated balm!

Ailments aside, I feel truly blessed in the warmth of my relationship with Helen, my beloved OH, and constantly wallow in (and yearn for) her presence. Although I can no longer cope with cinema, theatre, jazz club or concert going, I still have, and revel in, the opportunity via sundry technologies to enjoy music, film and concerts. This enjoyment is always enhanced when the experience is shared with ma belle!

At times our garden is so full of avian activity that it is a privilege quite simply to be sat in my armchair observing all their comings and goings. Come to think of it, I am truly blessed and surprisingly content much of the time!

Friday, August 31, 2012

that old familiar routine

There seems to be an increasing amount of times that I begin to feel (unjustifiably) guilty; at the same time I’m perhaps forgetting many incidents about which I perhaps should have felt guilt. The recent feelings of guilt are invariably related to my (chronic) illness; I can’t help but feel that my inability to socialize, or even far too frequently not being able to go out anywhere at all, places an unfair imposition on my beloved OH.

For the past several weeks I seem to have reverted to an older pattern of routine discomfort. Shatteredness is my routine daily state of being; far too frequently my sluggish emergence from the duvet lair necessitates a further rest after the effort of getting dressed. 

My gradual emergence into the new day, from the nocturnal duvet realm, usually takes place between 10.30 and 11.00am. On a good day, after a reviving intake of caffeine, I’ll go up to the garden pond to feed the fish and, stamina permitting, water the tomato plants in the greenhouse. If it’s a really good day I’ll maybe saunter, stout walking stick enabled, to the neighbourhood parade of shops; other times it will simply be back indoors for a rest.

Unfortunately, at present, I lack the concentration or attention span to settle down to read and enjoy any of the seductive volumes that can be found in abundance chez nous. Where once I enjoyed reading, both for pleasure and study purposes, I now impatiently await those rare intervals when a sufficiency of both physical and emotional stamina is available.

A variability in times it takes for sundry muscular, joint, and other aches and searing pains to set in (and drain my stamina reserves) means that my body imposes a need for further laying down rest any time from early to late afternoon. By this time I’ve often had to don wrist and elbow supports to help ease quite severe discomfort in my limbs. When ma belle is at home she easily recognizes when such rest is needed as pallor suddenly sets in.

By 9.00pm, or shortly thereafter, acute tiredness envelops me, and aided by a dose of amitriptylene and some tramadol to ease pain and muscular spasms, I head up the wooden stairs in anticipation (rarely, if ever, fulfilled) of a good nights sleep!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

a little bit forward and a few steps back

 After thirteen hours bed rest, and subsequent slow saunter downstairs and into the kitchen, I boldly strove to prepare a curry for Sunday and at least one subsequent day’s dinner. It turned out to be one of the most satisfactory curries I’ve ever produced from scratch; a subtle balance between heat and flavour (or spice and other ingredients) proved most enjoyable.


After my recent achingly exhausted days, I started to feel as if a modest recovery was in the offing. Before dinner I wandered up to the garden pond to feed the fish and then watered the tomato plants in the greenhouse.


Mid-afternoon a painful ache in my left wrist was swiftly followed by a throbbing pain in the elbow of the same limb. I swiftly strapped up the aching joints to make myself feel  a little more comfortable*. Within ten minutes my lower limbs were afflicted with a dull throbbing ache whilst I simultaneously began to feel dizzily light-headed. By this time my face had, apparently, drained of all colour – an appropriate pallor to accompany an essential lying down to rest.


It wasn’t long before a nausea inducing discomfort in the armpits took its rightful place alongside aching knees and ankles. All that was needed to complete the picture was a recurrence of the abdominal spasms; fortunately this symptom was only mildly represented on this occasion.


The adventure continues.
*unfortunately this didn't preclude a necessary resorting to some heavy duty pain-killers

Friday, August 24, 2012

Pacing can be a Pain


 Since yesterday lunch-time the discomfort has become quite extreme, in fact I don’t know why I try to soften the sentiment by substituting the word discomfort for what has ranged from excruciating pain through agonizing, nausea inducing, aches.  For several days back pains have flared up, presumably related to the herniated disc, to the extent that it has proved virtually impossible to find a comfortable position seated, reclining, or attempting to shuffle about, for considerable periods of time.


For a couple of days my lower limbs have had that achingly rubbery feel that I always used to associate with a bad bout of flu. Cervical and axillary lymph nodes, in neck and armpits, have once again taken on a most disconcerting tenderness, as if striving to draw my attention away from those aches that seem to flit between elbows and wrists. Gosh, as I write this down, it’s just dawning on me what bodily excitements I bear witness to.


Chronic abdominal spasms, and erratic spasms of irritation in the upper digestive tract, make almost perfect companions to the not infrequent chest pains. It’s almost as if some great controller has decided that no part of my torso or limbs should feel lonesome; I must admit that my body’s erratic thermostat, with the dance between overheated and over-chilled clamminess, is beginning to feel absolutely normal.


A couple of weekends ago, I was so proud of my achievement in attending two events

of moderate socializing on consecutive days, but within thirty–six hours payback had well and truly kicked in. On the Monday, after the social weekend, it came as something of a surprise to hear my GP utter those unexpected words, “don’t push yourself”. When it comes to an illness like ME, there couldn’t be any more sensible words of warning. Trouble is, on those rare occasions, when one feels able to manage a modest amount of exertion, it’s not always obvious where the boundaries lie.


Pacing is so vital but, at times, one seems to be set on an almost interminable learning curve.  

Thursday, August 09, 2012

a joyous combination

A wonderful combination of garden, sunshine, and gentle breeze helps lift the spirits. Having fed the goldfish in the pond, and watered the tomato plants (both in the greenhouse and the great outdoors), a sit down on the garden bench, slightly shaded from the sunshine’s full glare, provided a rich reward.

Birds, bees and butterflies, a kind of fluttering congregation, hovered and winged around in close proximity to me. I couldn’t really say whether they were oblivious to, or acceptingly aware of, my presence. I even enjoyed the shadow play on an adjacent wall, an animated conversation between shadow and light.

It was almost as if this simple celebration boosted the efficacy of the preceding dose of tramadol. If only thinking positive thoughts could provide a cure, today I’d be the healthiest creature on planet earth.

Unfortunately, there are too many occasions when even the necessary stamina for true relaxation is in abeyance.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

a lack of progress report

It happened again yesterday, on my way back home from dropping in a repeat prescription request form; I bumped into an acquaintance of mine from my more active days of yore and His (seemingly inevitable) first comment was about how well I looked. I had to admit that I’d had worse days; after all, it’s only on those most welcome better days I get out for even a short gentle stroll.

In the past few weeks all my endeavours to walk down to ‘Open Church’ have been thwarted by a combination of rubber leg syndrome, aching joints, and a disturbingly acute onset lack of stamina. Even the utilization of a good strong back support and sturdy walking stick do little to alleviate these symptoms. At other times the erratic behaviour of a spastic colon and diverticular disease has prevented me from even venturing away from the house.

This afternoon I set off with my beloved to collect my prescription; this time after walking barely a couple of hundred yards, a return home was essential for me. My legs were suddenly heavy, it felt as if my torso was being supported by two loosely wrapped felt tubes stuffed with sodden kapok. Back in the house I collapsed into my chair as aches and pains raged and spasmed through my right hand side pectoral muscles and across my upper abdomen. A sharp gnawing pain in the left armpit and inner upper arm played a nerve jangling counterpoint.

Totally disorientated, my head felt as if it was stuffed with some heavily brocaded fabric. Sudden unprovoked perspiration oozed from my head and torso as I became frightened by the prospect of fear itself.

The order of horizontality was essential to restore my equilibrium!

Thursday, July 05, 2012

tidings of discomfort and joy

The gaps between postings seem to be increasing; don’t know why I tell you that, presumably you’d already noticed. Sundry muscular aches and pains almost got the better of me during recent weeks, not so much the intensity of pain (barely halfway up the scale) but rather a disconcerting all pervasive sense of dis-ease. At present it feels as if a generalized discomfort proves more disabling than spasmodic acutely intense pain.

The question constantly arises whether codeine, tramadol or any general painkiller can tackle these dull persistently nagging aches. On occasion simply putting on wrist, elbow and shoulder supports seems to alleviate all but a background purring nausea, at others only the combination of pills and  strappings seem to do the trick.

It’s strange that some nights, following on from a more comfortable day, the discomfort only begins its nagging and gnawing routine when I attempt to settle down to sleep; brief interludes of dream laden sleep interrupt my sadly familiar restlessness. At times I could swear that the amitriptyline is working as a stimulant rather than benefitting me with its supposed gently sedative properties.

For the past several nights I’ve pre-emptively dosed myself with tramadol before retiring au lit but, I’ll never know whether it’s the medications efficacy that grants me a more comfortable (albeit still unrefreshing) night’s rest, or have these nights just happened to be ones that were destined to be more comfortable anyway.

At its worst the discomfort is such that I become nauseatingly ill at ease inside my own skin ….


I’m now beginning to see a reason for not posting; all the preceding spilt out as if I’m having a miserable life whereas in fact I continue to feel rather blessed.

My love for ma belle grows ever deeper and, what’s more, that love is reciprocated. The assurance that one is loved somehow overwhelms life’s more negative aspects, simultaneously building one’s reserves of emotional stamina in readiness for the ongoing struggle for justice and compassion for all.

Having always been of a somewhat gregarious disposition I still, not infrequently, find myself mourning the loss of the ability to socialize (other than on the most modestly minimal scale) but still feel fortunate that I can enjoy all kinds of music and drama via television, radio, and sundry recorded formats. It’s strange the way that sudden unexpected sounds can serve to shatter my nerves, almost crushing the breath out of me, whilst dramatic transitions in a musical score never (or perhaps very rarely) seem to play such a disruptive role.

The garden too is a source of constant delight and refreshment, even when it’s getting a bit out of hand, and the avian activity (viewed from the comfort of a supportive high-backed armchair) is a constant source of pleasure.

Come to think of it, perhaps the reason I’m not posting so regularly is that I’m far too busy appreciating life!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Traveller's Tale

 As the names Sheffield & Leeds appeared on the motorway signs I felt able to breathe freely once more. There really is no other place on earth quite like God’s own county and, having just travelled up from deepest Hertfordshire, the thought of soon being able to set foot once again on Yorkshire’s sacred ground proved truly heart-warming! To be totally honest, the ‘heart-warming’ was probably in response to the prospect of arriving home on the third day. Although born a “man of Kent”, and having inhabited points North, South, East & West of England, I am proud to be a Northerner and born-again Yorkshire man.

Our outbound journey, on Thursday, was not without its little hiccups as (what should have been) a three and a half hour journey turned into a more tortuous five hours of intermittent frustration. I’m not a good traveller at the best of times and this was most certainly not the best!

We received a most friendly welcome when we finally arrived at the Red Lion Hotel, in Radlett. The purpose of our venture southwards was to attend the wedding of one of Helen’s nieces; the wedding service was being held at St Paul’s Church in St Albans and the reception at Shenley Cricket Centre, the Church approximately seven miles and the reception venue just over one mile from the hotel we’d booked into.

The meal we had in the hotel’s restaurant was really excellent, at the time I thought it almost made the journey worthwhile. A most obliging waitress came back with the recipe for the sauce served with our main course as I’d been so enthusiastic about it and, she also printed out the route to be taken from the hotel to St Pauls.

After a most restless night, I managed to make it down for breakfast even though sundry muscular and joint pains had begun to kick in. The rest of the morning was spent lying down, attempting to get some rest before we set off for the wedding. Come the time we were due for departure to St Albans I knew there was no way I’d be able to cope with neither the journey to nor the ceremony itself.

My attempts to rest and relax whilst ma belle had headed off to the wedding were thwarted by the blaring/beeping of car horns (by the aggressive southern motorists as they approached the mini-roundabout in close proximity to the hotel). By this time a pounding headache and a disorientating spinning sensation, closely akin to that experienced when I suffered with labyrinthitis, joined the by now familiar aches and pains searing through my limbs whilst the ribcage was feeling rather bruised.

I should add that by this time I’d begun to be overwhelmed by a sense of despairing self-pity, after all this same Friday was also my birthday and here I was in an alien land feeling quite alone and desolate. When my beloved returned from the wedding service I reluctantly agreed to take a taxi to the reception. That decision proved totally disastrous as I was unable to cope with the babble of conversation and (joyous?) laughter – a total sensory overload. Within fifteen minutes we were in a taxi back to the hotel.

Later in the evening I felt almost ready to eat so, Helen and I ventured down through the bar to the restaurant only to be informed that the restaurant was closed (due to the extra bar business where the televised soccer seemed to be a major attraction and shortage of staff). I muttered to ma belle, “typical, it’s just not my f…ing day; it’s the most f…ing wretched birthday I’ve ever experienced, a bloody nightmare”.

Suddenly a degree of sanity overwhelmed me; I went to the Hotel Reception Desk to make an official complaint that we, as paying guests, had not been informed that the restaurant would be closed on a Friday evening. A few minutes later we were taken to the restaurant where a waitress took our order and the chef came to check whether and when we needed anything. This is what I consider service beyond the call of duty. I’d mentioned to the waitress that part of the reason I couldn’t cope with the noisy environment (of the bar) was because of my moderate M.E. As we finished our desserts the waitress volunteered that we could exit the restaurant via the kitchen, thus avoiding the bustling activity of the bar.

Although I didn’t manage to attend either the ceremony or the reception, for which we’d made the journey down, it was a delight to experience such real hospitality proffered by the Red Lion, Radlett, Herts.

Our return journey, on Saturday morning, passed without a hitch – the exact reverse of the route we’d intended to take on the outward journey – and we reached home in just three and a quarter hours. Recuperation from the adventure may take quite some time but, it’s slightly easier to cope with sundry ailments when at home in familiar territory.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

just as I am - and do not wish to be

Tuesday morning I removed myself from the duvet lair bright and early, feeling unusually alert and refreshed. It was only later in the day that I started to suffer for this foolhardiness, as I became a totally shattered wreck, and I’m still struggling – four and a half days later - to regain my usual familiarly limited reserves of stamina.

Headaches, giddiness, muscular pains and spasms, tenderness in armpits and under the chin, a bruised feeling around the ribcage alongside a sore throat and roof of the mouth, such have been the rewards for my carelessness.

To be perfectly honest, I suspect the ‘early morning’ was simply the carelessly thrown match landing on a tinder pile which would have self-combusted sooner or later.

Another bout of perspiration, suddenly oozing from forehead, chest and arms, seems to prefigure a renewed surge of shattered exhaustion. Frustration swiftly follows as I teeter on the brink of despair, feebly yielding to a flow of tears; a plenitude of gnawing aches destroys any semblance of composure.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Whatever Happens - (or A Customer Dis-service)

Whatever Happens don’t expect a reasonable service. Early this morning I had occasion to contact PC World’s ‘Whatever Happens’ service as a Packard Bell desktop, purchased less than two years ago (from PC World) and covered by a three year “Whatever Happens” warranty, had gone dead.

On ringing the necessary number on this 24/7 service, and having pushed sundry  buttons on the telephone in an attempt to follow the commands issued by a disembodied telephonic voice, I eventually got through to a real life voice. At this point I was urged to disconnect all leads from the non-functioning PC and press the power switch on whilst repeatedly tapping F8. Not even a beep was heard as I could have told him; no BIOS – no anything.

This wonderful service promises an engineer on the next working day but, according to the technician, that no longer applies as there were too many call outs and the engineer didn’t necessarily have the right components. Why they didn’t have the right components is something of a mystery as they have full knowledge of the machine model which they’re going to be servicing!

Next, he told me that they would collect it tomorrow but was unable to give me a time. Evidently it is the customer’s responsibility to go online after 9.00pm to get a rough idea of when they will be calling. Service obviously isn’t their concern whatever happens. Even the phone call (some 40 odd minutes duration I think)to an 0844 number, is at the customer’s expense and, the PC base unit will be away for a full week. So much for a next day service!

Whatever happens, remember their warranties are subject to change without informing the customer.

 Don’t expect good service – WHATEVER HAPPENS! That way you’ll not be disappointed.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

paucity of posts

sometimes I manage, and even enjoy, a bit of socializing - at others I struggle - things aren't too bad at the moment but I just don't seem to have the right kind of stamina to get down to any writing, hence the paucity of blog posts. Meantime I have posted a few more piccies on 'Mal's Picturebox'

Sunday, May 13, 2012


just when I seemed to be bearing up well, a sudden shatteredness occurred - intermittently extreme discomfort in limbs & torso, aching eyes and ears, together with ultra touch sensitive back & shoulders - fatigue is the least of my worries!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

an eventful time

Wow! What a week of varying fortunes; a visit (hopefully) to see the out of hours doctor led to a referral to A&E and a subsequent overnight stay at the hospital.

During the day on Sunday, a bruisedly crushing sensation across the chest, radiating from proximity of the sternum, coincided with shooting pains in my left arm. The latter coincidence was the real worry factor as I’d earlier put the cause of the chest pains down to indigestion.

The main problem is that I frequently experience shooting pains in the arm but rarely, if ever, have they coincided with chest pains. Early evening the chest pains returned, more painfully crushing and making it difficult to catch my breath, whilst simultaneously I suddenly felt cold (as the sun poured in through the window); it was almost as if I could feel the blood draining from my face and extremities. I felt totally achingly light-headed.

I knew that if I ‘phoned the “out of hours” doctor, as soon as my age and chest pains were mentioned, they’d be suggesting an ambulance. A short while later I headed down to the hospital, with ma belle chauffeuse, and the rest is history.

Having taken an ECG and a few phials of blood, I was duly informed that they would be admitting me overnight, for monitoring, and a further blood test would need to be taken twelve hours after the last bout of pain. The second lot of blood was taken at around 5.30am when I was informed that the consultant wanted me to have a chest X-Ray. I was wheeled down to the X-Ray department shortly before 1.00pm and, as all the tests proved negative, discharged when ma belle came to collect me at 1.40pm. I must say that the lunch I had on the ward, in contrast to my previous hospital stay, was really good, roast turkey with mashed and new potatoes, stuffing, beans and swede.


Tuesday was ma belle’s Birthday and Cathy (my younger step-daughter) treated us, together with Ken (her partner) and Beth (my elder step-daughter), to an early evening meal at Luigi’s. Much to my surprise, having had a restful couple of days, I was on sparkling form (as the long lost demon once more found his rightful place on my shoulder).

Wednesday evening we had an “at home”, a further celebration of Helen’s birthday, when people called in any time from 6.00pm to around 11.00pm. Apart from a little socializing, videoing & snapping the event, I also allocated myself the function of wine glass filler & head washer up. I almost managed to overlook my familiar aches & pains midst all the distractions.

Much rest became the overarching theme of subsequent days but, I’m here and enjoying the company of my beloved as always.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Woes and Gratitude

It’s becoming increasingly difficult not to sound like a moaning wimp. It isn’t that I feel much worse than has become my familiar norm and, I’ve frequently experienced more excruciating aches and pains than at present, but it’s an overall sense of feeling ‘off-colour’ that nags and gnaws at me for at least half of my waking hours.

It’s almost impossible to get used to those times when one suddenly experiences a cloying, gut-wrenching, nauseating giddiness, and sudden change from warm to cold skin as the colour can almost be felt draining away from ones face. Sometimes the overall sense of queasiness persists for only a few minutes, before the healthier glow returns, at other times the period of dis-ease is much more prolonged.

The spastic colon & diverticular disease randomly asserts itself, with little regard to whether I’ve maintained a regular dose of anti-spasmodic pills (mebeverine) but, fortunately the ppi’s (lansoprazole) function reasonably well in curbing the worst excesses of gastro-oesophageal reflux (although there are some days when, come bedtime, I still require a dose of antacids.

On a positive note, I’ve suddenly realized that up to this point no mention has been made of the painful aches in the upper limbs (not infrequently emanating from the armpit) as these are currently adequately controlled by doses of tramadol. So, I conclude on a note of gratitude once again; if only the flow of thanksgiving could overwhelm the woes that flesh is heir to!

Monday, April 23, 2012

ME - my body - a little moderation

Reduced my hours ensconced in the duvet lair to the usual twelve (last PM – this AM) but, as is far too common, I didn’t feel much refreshed as I emerged into the mid-morning grey. Muzzy head, sore throat and lower limbs feeling rubbery leaden, I didn’t even contemplate venturing as far as Open Church this morning, so I restricted my exercise to a faltering stroll to the local bakery to collect our wholemeal loaf.

Once I’d decided on the bakery goal, I popped a fully stamped up Café Culture loyalty card in my pocket, to claim a free drink on my way back to the house; such was my clarity of thought and intention that I walked straight past the Café on both outward and return journeys, forgetting to claim myself a treat!

The hours hung most heavily by mid-afternoon as I drifted into a somewhat discomforting intermittent nap; an hour spent in this condition felt like an eternity of awakened drudgery. At this point my old familiar pains in upper limbs, from armpit to wrist, kicked in once again but were alleviated reasonably quickly with 100mg of tramadol.

Overall though, I can’t complain as I’ve frequently had much worse days than this and, I remain grateful that I’m only a moderate sufferer.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Stormy Weather

My most recent flood of tears almost put the current downpour of rain and hail to shame. A prolonged wearily exhausted phase of being has not always been easy to cope with; even an almost constant bruising constricted sensation across chest and upper abdomen fails to overwhelm the spasmodic aches and pains in the upper limbs (apparently emanating from the armpits).

Having emerged from the duvet lair, some thirteen hours after retiring thence, I went downstairs to prepare a chicken, peppers and mushroom casserole for dinner, as well as parboiling some potatoes in water infused with my special blend of herbs and spices. By the time the initial preparations were done I was ready for another rest; I duly retired to the lounge and enjoyed watching our avian visitors in the garden. Goldfinch, coal tits, blue tits, house sparrows, blackbirds and wood pigeons all vied for my attention.

After lunch we transferred some video footage of Wesley Chapel’s Anniversary and rededication service, from 1994, to DVD. It was good recognizing some old familiar faces in choir, congregational pews and pulpit, and it’s especially interesting as that is now Helen’s home chapel, just as it was for my parents in their later years. As I finalized the DVD a fascinating Human Planet documentary, which had just started on BBC1, captured our attention.

We both enjoyed watching the Senior School Choir of the year semi-final and, the three choirs chosen to go through to the final coincided with our selection. Shortly after that programme had finished my problems began; as I sat down following a visit to the loo I suddenly found myself breathless as my chest and abdomen felt as if they were being held in a vice and, I felt my colour drain away (the pallor duly observed by my beloved) and felt very nauseous. The crushing aches and pains were vying for attention everywhere from shoulder, through the torso and down to the lower limbs. As I gasped for breath, the tears began to flow and I felt terribly afraid, just feeling totally terrible. The tears flowed for at least twenty minutes as the sundry symptoms became unbearable.

I am just relieved to feel normal (with my old familiar lower level aches and pains) once again. as I sit and enjoy the company of my beloved!   

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Monday, April 09, 2012

of spoonie normality

Each time I’ve set out to write a blog post, of late, an insufficiency of either/and/or physical, intellectual or emotional stamina has managed to suppress the desire. That  statement gets me to thinking, once again, of normality; when ones reserves of stamina, or effects of sundry aches and pains, are totally unpredictable (not only one day but even one hour to the next) what kind of criteria should one apply in order to define a normal day?

Contrary to the hopes and wishes implied at the close of my “much ado about little” posting (24 March), a considerable degree of payback was evident in the succeeding days. The most positive thing I can say about the excruciatingly shattered low days is that they enable me to appreciate, albeit retrospectively in some cases, the goodly number of better ones that I am blessed with!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

much ado about little

The current pleasant weather could prove dangerous!

Yesterday afternoon found me briefly pottering about in the garden; this morning I once again exerted myself (a little) tidying up and, transferring a wonderfully rich humus from the bottom of the composter into a barrow.

At that point it suddenly felt like I was about to hit the wall; it was almost as if I could hear the muscles groan through their sluggish response to every bit of exertion.

Come the afternoon I even ventured out for a little walk!

It would be nice if for once there's no payback.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

a not quite inadvertent nature watch

just rediscovered this note from a couple of days ago and as no other words are seeking urgent release thought I should post it just as it is


Having been blessed with glorious sunshine, for at least parts of several recent days, today's sky seems to promise some quite imminent rainfall. As I write the sun has once again broken through the cloud cover; whilst other areas of the country are having hosepipe bans imposed, in these parts there's certainly been no shortage of the watery stuff.

The bright sunshiny mornings have brought the depths of shrubberies alive with an intensity of chatter from the house sparrows, whilst dunnocks trill their melody from higher, more exposed, twigs and branches.

At some point each day, regardless of whether I manage to get out of the house, I have the privilege of watching the red kite(s) circling on the thermals.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

and suddenly ....

And suddenly the floodgates open, not a result of any dramatic trauma more like tripping over the everyday! A renewed period of feeling below par, even by my own undemanding standards, inevitably gnaws away at ones self-esteem. Whilst I have so much to be thankful for I still can’t avoid feeling guilty for the restrictions my own health problems place on my beloved.

Today, just ma belle’s suggestion that we go for lunch to the local café was sufficient to set the tears a-flowing; we both enjoy our visits to Café Culture but, with the recent return of quite excruciating pains to my lumbar region, I felt I would be much more comfortable staying at home. Almost immediately the pangs of guilt set in as I felt that my not feeling up to dining out was simultaneously denying my beloved the pleasure.

In recent weeks I’ve been spared the (formerly routine) aches and spasms of the lower limbs, feeling that at least part of me is finally on the mend but, the pains in the arms – starting as if a sustained attack (in vicinity of the elbow) is being made on the funny bone, before gnawingly boring into the armpit and, at other times a nausea inducing ache in the wrist travels slowly up the arm – seem to have increased in frequency as if by way of compensation.

The simple task of removing the ornamental rock from our main aquarium, in order to remove the excess algae, on Monday afternoon, led in turn to painful pulled muscles around the right shoulder blade which subsequently seem to have joined forces with more acute pains in the small of my back.

And suddenly ….  I play the wimp again!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

three poems for Helen


                                 THAT DAY (for Helen)

                                  That day we found each other,
or perhaps the day
found us.

Though neither of us knew
what we were looking for,
a clasp of hands, an affirmation

of each others presence -
meant more
than either of us knew.

That day we found
each other -
and suddenly we knew.

          Malcolm Evison

(for Helen)

Right now I feel
the urge to scream
forget the aching limbs

dance deftly
on the brim
of my emotions.

Right now
I feel the lure of love
the light

that breaches
my stoical defence.
I see your face

I glow with joy -
right now
there is no you or I

as we rejoice.

Right now I am
alive with you -
I feel -

imbibe the air of this
our perfect world.

                                      Malcolm Evison


Wrapped in each other                     
we break illusions
of our separateness.

As bodies merge
we lose location
finding our place

in vaster schemes.
Thanksgiving, sanctified
with each embrace,

transmits a joy
beyond our reckonings.

love knows no bounds.

                                Malcolm Evison