Category Archives: wry views of the world today

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The Old Bat visits Rookwood hospital for an elderly care assessment.

Yesterday I went by ambulance to a different type of hospital. Rookwood is a place devoted to the care of the elderly. I am elderly and certainly need help to go on living independently. I looked forward to this assessment as I need help badly.

I was taken very gently from the ambulance to a small room where several machines waited  to test me. I was weighed, measured, told to stand up, sit down and do some memory tests. I was particularly interested in the last test as I felt that I had struggled lately remembering  a friends address. I was relieved when I scored full marks. The first person to appear was a physiotherapist, I am very fearful around such people as they all want me  to do exercises that are very painful.   Not this one. Having heard the truly dreadful cracking noises coming from my knees when standing up, he very quickly told me that exercise was out of the question. I was just to keep moving as much as I could without too much pain. This was a great relief,  I had left the surgical hospital with a whole programme of exercises that were painful in the extreme. I just could not do them/ What a relief.The next person to appear was the phlebotomist armed with many needles .I am not afraid of needles, but I know that most practitioners finds it difficult to find a vein. to get blood. Not this on one, she found a vein straight away and filled all the syringes. Next came nurse with the E.C.G. machine, and so it went on until they ran out of tests, and gave me chicken sandwiches, and a glass of milk.

I was most relieved at the result of the memory test, as losing my memory is one of my greatest fears. I will get the results of the other tests later, but I was also enlightened that the reason that I  have so much pain in my feet, when they are either too hot to too cold, is that I have Raynauds disease, lucky old me.

 

Monday March 11th

Another ambulance ride to the Dermatology dept of the local hospital. I have regular appointments looking for skin cancers caused by my life time farming  in all weathers. All seemed well today. Later on in the afternoon I had a phone call from my  Dr.She rang to tell me that she had the result of all those tests on Friday. My blood test showed up to be hugely high in potassium, probably due to my fondness of bananas, So more blood tests.

I would advise all elderly people to have as many health tests as possible.You might also be eating too many bananas or something else. Good luck.

 

 

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The Old Bat becomes a Great Grandmother

I Have not written for a while, I just could not get into the right mood, mainly because all my plans had gone wrong. I had expected to move into a different flat, one that was well suited to my situation. It had no steps at all, with a front door opening straight on to the pavement. This would have enabled me to get outside for the first time since January. Plans had been laid to move on my birthday, my family were coming down from Oxford to do the work.The day before the move I was told that the present tenant was not moving, even though he had given written notice to our joint landlord. The reason was because the house he was buying might have Japanese knot weed. I was devastated. When I recovered, I decided to make the best of it as my family were coming anyway and it was my birthday. I organized a party for the friends that have helped me during the last six months. It was going to be a ‘No trouble party’.Having asked around which ‘takeaways’ were the most popular I settled on an  Indian takeaway. As some of the guests had different dietary needs I chose dishes from a Vegetarian takeaway and others from an Indian takeaway that had meat dishes. A very good friend made a beautiful lemon drizzle cake for desert.

The party was a resounding success. The food arrived on time, it was hot, and  was pronounced of very good quality. I could not tell because Indian food is too spicy hot for me. The evening then became very lively as we all sang to music played by three of the guests, two playing guitars and one playing a balaphone, a West African instrument, We had a great time and as one guest remarked ‘not quite the party one would expect for an eighty two year old.’

Sept 8th.
I have not written for a while because I was so disappointed about the non move. It has been a beautiful summer and I have not been outside at all, so I have not seen my garden. However, yesterday while being carried to and fro from the ambulance on the way to a pre assessment appointment at the hospital, I saw my garden and its’s plants. On the whole I was disappointed because both the fuchsias and the hydrangeas had grown a lot of foliage but had not yet flowered, perhaps they will in the Autumn.

The visit to the hospital went well, a lot of paperwork, and a few tests which I passed well. All of my ailments are kept under control by various medications. As a result , I was given November30th as the date for the operation on my spine and told that I should be in hospital for between 5 and 10 days.It is good to have a defiant date.

My big news is the birth of my great grand child, Frankie, who weighed in at 6lb 13oz. She is very beautiful with straight back hair, with the look of both her parents. It is wonderful to have a baby in the family again.

November 11th.

I have got my mojo back again. I have settled back again in my flat where I am visited by my good friends often bringing food. One pair often bring their evening meal, with a portion for me so that we can eat together at my dining table. How kind and thoughtful.
Having had two very minor falls I came to the conclusion that I needed a bit of help. So with help of a care allowance from the Dept of Work and Pensions I have a very nice carer who helps me wash and get dressed two mornings a week.It is great that the same woman comes at a time to suit me, not too early.

I have had many letters and cards from friends that I met at work. Thank you very much, they really cheered me up.I can assure you all that I am not ill just badly disabled which is going to be made a bit better on Nov 30th.

The Old Bat has a M.R.I. scan on her back and emergency surgery on her stomach.

I am hoping to have a spinal operation soon, most readers know how  this came about so I will only give a brief summary. When I was in my teens,I used to train racehorses for my father. During this time I injured myself,  I am now in my eighties and the damage  has got a lot worse, I am unable to move without a lot of pain. An operation has been planned,  the surgeon is going to remove the piece of bone that is crushing my spinal chord. Until that time, I am in the hands of a band of people working for the NHS. In the past, I have heard so many grumbles about the NHS, that I feel that I must tell you how it is for me.

Up to Christmas time, I  worked  as a receptionist, I loved it because I met people who became friends. I had to leave because it became too difficult to leave my flat, too many steps between my front door and the pavement. I then made the decision to ask for a bit of help because I could not get in and out of my shower. This is when an army of helpers arrived.  The first to arrive was the practice nurse who came to take a blood sample, then a number of carers arrived . One came to help me wash myself properly.  I was able to wash everything except my back which she did for me. It was  then discovered that I had a small sore which had to be cured before I could have the operation, so another nurse arrived to put sterile dressings on that. This meant that nurses comes to look after it twice a week. When I asked the carer if she could put the cream that had been prescribed for my back, she said that she was not allowed to do it without permission.. Permission arrived, in the form of a piece of paper on Easter Sunday, in the evening.  I am truly grateful for all the help but feel that I am having a bit too much.

Years ago, in 2008, I made a living will which clearly states exactly what I want to happen if I am unable to speak for myself. I thought that I had covered every eventuality, so when a senior nurse came along with a lot of paper work, I was a bit annoyed. I had to answer many questions about my ‘End of Life’ care. I thought that I had more than covered that in the living will, I do know that there can be problems when things go wrong. All my treatments had to be covered legally again in detail, from the’Health and Safety’ point of view.. It was not a jolly couple of hours.

Yesterday I went for my M.R.I. scan at the hospital.  Because I cannot walk down to the pavement, I had to be taken by ambulance. The ambulance men came to the door with a carrying chair in which I sat until I transferred into the ambulance. It was great being driven along because I could see all the gardens springing into flower, masses of daffodils camellias and magnolias in full bloom. The scan went well, and I was taken home by ambulance three hours later. I found the waiting hard because I was stuck sitting in a very hard chair the whole time. On the way back I saw my own garden for the first time in months, it looks wrecked with many tubs filled with water, probably drowning my favourite fuchsias. The  day had gone well, the ambulance men were friendly, the radiographers efficient,  the scan was completely  pain free, the nurses kind, however, I felt completely exhausted. Today, I am still feeling the effects of yesterdays adventures, I am very glad that the scan is over, it is quite difficult to remain completely still for 15 minutes, locked in a noisy metal tube. I am  lucky that I am not not claustrophobic, and that I was given ear plugs to help with the noise. For any patient that cannot cope, there is piece of sponge that they can squeeze to stop the whole process. There is nothing to worry about, you just have to relax, there is no pain at all.

The Old Bat is rushed into hospital..

One week later. April 15th,  shock ,horror, I was taken ill during the night with non stop vomiting.The ‘out of hours service’ sent an ambulance and I was whisked off to hospital. I cannot remember what happened next. I have lost a whole week.  All I can recall is having vividly coloured morphine dreams in which I starred, and had a wonderful time. I eventually came back to the land of reality in the high dependancy unit having had serious  surgery on my stomach. I was connected to many ‘drips’ and such. For the next week I had ‘nothing by mouth’.

I was very curious to know what had happened. I knew that I was going to have a back operation, hence the MRI scan, but I did not expect  major surgery on my stomach. It turned out that the problem was nothing to do with my back but had everything to do with an operation that I had fifty years ago for diverticulitis. Apparently a small bit of tissue that had been left behind had grown and grown until a cobweb of tissue had completely blocked the small bowel.  The surgeon had been very clever and had cut out the blocked part and had sewn it all back together again.

I remained. in hospital for 16 days. I have to say that the nursing care  was wonderful.The young staff nurses who  ran the ward were amazing, In fact all the staff were both efficient, caring and overworked. Many thanks to staff nurses, Becky, Fred, Lauren and Hazel, who arrived at 7.30 am in their running shoes, every hair in place, and left at 7.30pm  completely exhausted  and dishevelled.  Many days they had not even  had  time for a lunch break. Nurses, Charlotte and Mark were outstanding.

I am now home again waiting for a date in June for the back operation. I have recovered quickly from the stay in hospital and I am quite happy to be managing at home with the help of carers.

May 19th

I received a letter this morning from Mr Chopra’s secretary, informing me that I have a pre-admission examination and assessment on Tuesday June 26th..I was very pleased to receive this long awaited appointment but disappointed to have to wait another 5 weeks. I just have to have bit more patience. I am helped in this by my extremely good friends and family who visit me regularly. Except for my 16 days in hospital, and my trip for the MRI scan, I have not left my 2 roomed flat since Christmas. Thank goodness for the TV and books .However today, I am determined to get outside with the help of a  friend and a four wheeled ‘walker’, I want to see my garden and feel the sun once again.

June 6th.

I have just been to see another flat, which is just five doors away, but has entrances straight off the streets, no steps at all. My very good friends pushed me in a fold up wheel chair, It was hilarious, it took three strong people to get me there. The flat is very nice. It has two bedrooms, a cosy living room, an adequate kitchen,. and a nice little garden which faces south. I am going to take it as I will be able to get out and about again and not feel like a prisoner. My children and friends will be able to drive up to the gate and I will be able to step into their cars.  I hope to move in  two weeks time. It will be a new start which I will tell you all about.

Many thanks for all your good wishes, many beautiful cards delivered to my hospital bed.

 

 

 

 

 

Decision Time for one Old Bat.

It is very difficult for some people to admit that they are getting old and need help. I admit that I am one of them. I have lived on my own for sixteen years and so far, I have managed reasonably well, but not now. In previous blogs I have written about the injuries I sustained as a young woman when I helped train race horses  for my father, who was an international horseman. These injuries have now got to the stage that I cannot walk very far, and I certainly cannot cope with steps. Living in a ground floor flat is good, but unfortunately the front door is eight steps up from the pavement, so it is getting more and more painful  to leave the building.  In fact, I have not left the flat for nearly three weeks, so I have to make a decision about my future.

It is not an easy decision. If I move I will not be able to see my wonderful doctor. I learned this morning that boundaries have been moved and I am not actually in the area served by my surgery. I was only allowed to stay here because I had been with them before the  change to the boundaries.

During the time that I have lived in my flat, I have made  many good friends and I am extremely reluctant to move away from them. They all make sure that I am not lonely. Loneliness is the scourge of old age,  and the company of really good friends makes life worth living.

Yesterday, I had a visit from a representative from Disability Wales, an organisation that helps people stay in their homes. Unfortunately, they could not help me.  The suggestion of replacing the outside steps with a ramp instead of the steps is not possible, because the gradient is too high and the distance  too long. A big disappointment, as I thought that this was the answer to my problem.

Days later

In the mean time, I have been in touch with the Housing Dept in order to put my name down on the waiting list for ‘sheltered’ accommodation’. It is almost impossible to get a flat in this district but I have to be on the list to be considered in the future. I am also going to get in touch with the local estate agents to see if they have a suitable flat.

The estate agents say that there are no suitable flats available.

Many days later

I was woken up this morning by a telephone call from the Surgical Unit at the hospital, offering me an appointment with the Spinal Surgeon next Tuesday morning at 7.30. They had a cancellation so I was very pleased to say that I would gladly take it. Such good news, I will let you all know how I get on. I am not expecting miracles, but a little less pain would be wonderful.

Tuesday January 30th

This morning, I had an appointment with Mr Chopra, the surgeon at Llandhough Hospital, to discuss my pain problem. Mr Chopra explained that as I had not had any relief from the spinal injections, the only step left was to have surgery. He put the MRI scan picture on his screen, and explained to me that it showed my spinal cord being  crushed by the bone of a damaged vertebra. The only hope of pain relief was to remove the bone, and replace it with metal and screws. This would mean quite a stay in hospital. There was no 100 per cent guarantee that this would work. If I did not have the operation my condition would continue to deteriorate until I would not be able to walk at all. He told me that after another MRI scan, he would operate in April.

Now, I can postpone all decisions until after the operation, and recovery time.  When, with a big bit of luck, I will be able to walk and navigate stairs. This will  enable me to remain in my present flat and on my doctor’s list. This is all thanks to our wonderful National Health Service, which is free. If things do not go to plan, I will have to face up to the situation of having to be looked after by professionals, and make arrangements accordingly.

The Old Bat looks back at Christmases past and present

I am writing this the week before Christmas Day 2017.  This has prompted memories of Christmases gone by.

I was born in 1936 on a farm in West Wales. At that time we had no electricity – just oil lamps and candles.  So no Christmas lights.  My earliest memory is of a warm happy  home decorated with lots of berried holly branches stuck behind every picture frame and sprigs of mistletoe hanging over every door ready for all those kisses. We had a homegrown branch of a fir tree to go with our log fires. The branch was decorated with tinsel and coloured baubles. We were all raised as Christians, and I attended a convent school, so the religious aspect of Christmas was a constant background to our celebrations, but not dominant. At this time in West Wales, carol singers came to our doors on New Years Eve.

At four or five years old I definitely believed in Father Christmas, so my brother and I sent many messages up the chimney. On Christmas Eve we hung at the end of our beds the largest stockings we could find. As we waited, hoping to catch sight of him, we were sure that we could hear the reindeers coming nearer and nearer. We could  even hear  the tinkle of their bells. We never actually saw him, of course, but we were always pleased by the gifts we received in our stockings next morning. In those days presents were small, usually a toy for my brother and a small doll for me, also some chocolates or sweets and always a tangerine in the toe of the stocking.

Life on the farm was always busy, even on Christmas Day.  We had a large herd of cows to be milked, calves to feed, sheep to be seen and checked on. In the farm kitchen  a large Christmas dinner was being cooked: a very large goose reared on the farm, huge joints of home cured ham, also potatoes, carrots, parsnips and cabbage, all home produced. There was also a large homemade Christmas pudding. This feast was not just for the family but also for the cowman and the other workers who lived with us in the farmhouse.  We had  beer, home-brewed specially for the occasion. After dinner, it was back to work for the adults, while my brother and I played with our presents, more having been brought by friends and relatives. Note, that I describe the midday meal as ‘dinner,’ and  will call the evening meal ‘supper’.  Supper, eaten once all the outside work was finished,  consisted of all the leftover cold meats from dinner, with bubble and squeak made from the leftover vegetables and the wonderful gravy: my favourite meal.

The evening was spent listening to the battery powered radio, playing parlour games or, if we could persuade her, singing around the piano played by my Grandmother. We went to bed very tired and happy.

We spent many years having these innocent  Christmas days, but  this changed when our village had electricity, which brought with it television and advertising.  Christmas became commercial and it became difficult for our children not to want what they saw advertised.  I remember when my own children were about twelve, my mother asked them what they would like as a gift for Christmas. Seduced by the wonderful portrayal of a game on the television called Mouse Trap, they asked their Grandmother if she would get it for them. My mother searched the toy shops near and far until she found it. There was great excitement before opening the box on Christmas Day. What a disappointment, it was just a bit of moulded brightly coloured plastic which had been staged by the film on TV to look wonderful.  I was so disappointed for my mother. We all learned  a valuable lesson. As the years have gone by, Christmas has become more and more commercial, with advertising starting in September. This really upsets me, I worry about all those families who have to struggle with Christmas debt for the foreseeable future.

New Year’s Day

Enough of this moaning. I will tell you about the lovely things that have made this Christmas wonderful for me. Over the holiday I have seen all my children and most of my grand children with their lovely friends. I had phone calls and visits from friends who knew that I was stuck in my flat. Among many cards, I had a lovely hand made card addressed to ‘his lovely cousin’s Grandma.’ Another card came from an old friend of my daughter’s. We have not been in touch since they all left for university. During the last few years I have followed the lives of his young sons on Facebook. I did not think that he would recognise my present name, so I was delighted to receive a card designed by one of the boys. I also want to thank all the friends that I have made during the many years at work for giving me such thoughtful cards and gifts. I realise now that the heart of Christmas still lives, we all try to show our friends and relations how much we love and appreciate them.

I wish a happy and healthy 2018 to everyone.

 

 

 

 

Thinking of the Rohingyan people of Mayanmar, formerly Burma.

I live in a large house divided into 6 flats. My nearest neighbour is a mature student from Singapore called Hannah, who is a Punk. We spend much time chatting about world affairs. At the moment most of our talk is about the situation in Rohinga, formerly part of Burma. All my life I have looked up to the civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi who had spent all her life fighting for the oppressed people of the world. I am now shocked to find that she is doing nothing to help the Muslim Burmese who are dying of starvation on their way to Bangladesh. Clive Myrie of the BBC has sent graphic reports back home to our T.V. sets so that we can all make our minds up about the situation.

Normally, there is an appeal to the general public to raise money to help. I was glad to hear that the government had sent a large amount of money to Bangladesh to help with building camps and treating the many children to prevent disease.
Hannah is very keen to help in some way. Using the Internet, she found the name of the only punk band to come from Burma, RIOT REBELS. Luckily they are touring the UK at the moment trying to raise money for the people at home. Hannah tracked them down (on the internet) to the Red Lion pub in Bristol. So on Saturday night she went with friend to the pub with our donation, bought two tee shirts and had a long talk with the four exhausted young men. The Riot Rebels have gigs in small venues which you can find on the Internet. They only charge £3 entrance fee but depend on donations. I think that they need to charge more – they do not seem to realise that they are selling themselves too cheaply (perhaps £3 is a lot of money in Rohingya?). They were so pleased with our donation, a tiny drip in the ocean.

If the Riot Rebels are going to play at a pub near you, please go and support them, as it will help many others. You can visit their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/therebelriot/. Please also visit the following page, which is the site of their charity, ‘Food Not Bombs’: https://www.facebook.com/fnbmyanmar/. Hannah thought that their music was good too. I’m afraid that I am not a punk so I cannot say!

OLD BAT at the October book group

I hosted this meeting in place of another member, I lent my flat and asked the others to bring a plate of food.  This was successful as every one brought some thing different.  I made my usual fruit trifle and some soda bread. The evening was interesting because some of us actually read the book while others listened to it on tapes or some other audio system. We discussed the book ‘All the Ugly and Wonderful Things’ by Bryn Greenwood. Because we live in Cardiff in South Wales some of the readers thought that the author was a man because the name Bryn is a common christian name here. They had not looked at the photograph on the back cover.

The people who read, other than listened to, the book seemed to like it the most. The story is about two children in the USA being dragged up by their parents who are heavily into the illicit use and manufacture of heavy drugs. The young girl is neglected by both parents but from the age of eight is championed by an ex convict, Kellen, of part native Indian background who takes her to school every day, making sure that she has shoes on her feet and generally does all the things the parents should do. Of course the girl Wavy grows up and after the shocking murder of her parents, the story takes a blacker twist. The story deals with a strong bond developing between the older man Kellen, and the young Wavy, which comes up for public scrutiny. I will not tell you any more, but I thoroughly recommend this book. The readers gave it nine out of ten, while the audio listeners gave it eight.

The next book to read is ‘Things fall apart’ by Chinua Achebe’

Our book group is friendly, everyone is encouraged to give their opinion. We meet alternately in each other’s house or flat, the host having brought four or five books which we had voted on the month before. We then read the winning choice. We alway have a luscious tea afterwards provided by the host, with plenty of chat, putting the world to rights etc. Unfortunately members are moving on with their jobs, therefore our numbers are falling. We would like some new members. The group is mixed, men and women, old, middle-aged and young. We would welcome anyone interested in books.If this appeals to you please leave a message on The Old Bat’s blog.