vendredi 27 novembre 2015

Back to the hacienda!

Well, here I am, released from exile and back at La Mort Limouzin once again. Both of us are overjoyed to be back together again, and for Kim not to have to make a three hour round trip to visit me. I shall be eternally grateful for the improvement that Le Grand Feu has made to the damage that the stroke  made to my hand, arm and leg, they are so much better than when I arrived there. I am hoping for continuing improvement and we are commencing a continuing series of Kinetherapy at a centre at Chef Boutonne
  The only blot on the pleasant landscape of my return, were a series of really frightening panic attacks the first time I have ever had such experiences.  I felt I couldn't breathe, was trembling and wanting to run, really had the feeling of being about to die. Luckily Kim was able to calm me down and pointed out that my vital signs were all normal, and I took a Xanax, a thing I never do. After ten minutes all returned to normal. Phew!!
   Research on Google into this condition, showed the feelings, though highly alarming, are completely illusionary, and exist in the imagination rather than the body. Armed with this information, I have been able to fight off any recurrence, but I assure my readers I have never been so frightened in my that has settled down, I can concentrate on building up movement and dexterity in my limbs, we have a session of Kinetherapy this afternoon at Chef. I'll let you know how it compares with the Grand Feu Kine.
  Our Doctor has also suggested a visit to a Sophrologist as a good treatment for panic attacks, so we're trying that on Saturday, can't do any harm....

   Bye for now from a hopefully convalescing Noah!

dimanche 22 novembre 2015

Noah's progress, back to the ark on Tuesday

Well, I seem to have been here in rehab at LeGrand Feu practically for ever, in danger of feeling that this is my natural habitat! I can see how people become institutionalised, life seems to flow along without much change, week by week. Luckily, I have been able to return home at the weekends to remind me that life goes on on the outside
   However, the time has not been wasted, looking back I can realise the difference in my current condition and the state I was in when I entered. Then, I could scarcely move the fingers of my left hand, couldn't raise my arm at all, and needed to scoot around in a wheelchair. Now, the chair is long gone, and I can walk around with almost no limp ( still working on that ) my hand works pretty well as normal, with the thumb opposable, and the arm can reach above my head. It's all a bit weak, of course, though much stronger than it was, and I tire very quickly, but it's really a question of  regaining stamina! This weekend, I have been able to undertake simple jobs like lighting the fire, letting the dogs out in the cour and don't feel so completely dependent on Kim. She has been very supportive and in many ways has been worse affected than I, having to do all the driving, housework and pet care, and has never complained. Of course, at times, I have despaired a bit, and lost sight of the progress made when I compare it to the mountain still to climb, the capacity lost compared to that regained but the main thing is to keep positive.

 Anyway, on Tuesday, I am to be released, to return home to stay, we are both overjoyed. Details need to be sorted out for some continuing therapy, but I think the best therapy will be to use the damaged limbs in daily life, to exercise the muscles in doing daily tasks. I'll let you know how we get on! Wish me luck!

 Bye for now, from Le Grand Feu, but not for long......

vendredi 30 octobre 2015

Noah's journey.

This isn't going to be an easy blog to write and not only because I can only use one hand to type. I want to put it on record nevertheless to keep the sequence of events clear in my mind and perhaps to help others experiencing the same symptoms
 How it started then. On Tuesday 20th, while driving I felt a sort of weakness in my left hand,it felt tired and had a tendency to slip off the steering wheel I was not terribly worried, I thought perhaps another symptom of this wretched shingles. Early next morning,when I got up to the loo, something much more alarming happened. Due to a curious weakness of my left leg I lurched to the left. To save myself from falling, I reached out with my left hand but got no response, so I collapsed onto some bags of clothing and had to continue on all fours, or rather on threes. Having crept downstairs, Kim tried to contact our doctor, but it was two early so she rang the 15 emergency number. They briefly took details then immediately sent an ambulance, no messing, even told us off for not ringing earlier. Kim was left to follow later we knew to take health card and top-up insurance details.We went to Niort hospital A and E and the ambulance staff booked me in. Lots of tests including a Doppler and a scanner in the afternoon enabled them to diagnose a stroke due to a minor blockage of blood but no bleed into the brain
    I spen the next few days on the Neurological wing,finally being transferred to this rehabilitation unit at Le Grand Feu on the other side of Niort on the Monday afternoon  Here they have all the necessary specialists to help restore movement to the affected limbs. I share a two bedded room with another patient. Each morning I take a shower and dress, not so easy with one hand that doesn't work well. For the last two days, I have had a young lady from the Ergotherapy department come to see how I manage, doesn't do to be too modest here! Then it's breakfast at first in the room but now in the patients' restaurant Got to be quick because it's Kinetherapy at 830, followed by Ergotherapy at 10. Then a well-deserved and tasty lunch, then another session of Kine at 2. Kim visits after that very welcome too. Poor thing, she has an hour's drive to be here...
  The weekend, there's no sessions, many people go home. I'm not allowed the first weekend, so Kim is taking lunch with me on Sunday.
 It's strenuous here but I can already see much improvement so I'm hoping not to have to stay too long.
         Bye for now, nearly dinner time, yummm.

lundi 26 octobre 2015

A Tail of Two Kitties.

   About July of last year, after the sad death o our much-loved tricolour kitten Charlotte, we decided to take on another tricolour kitten from our friend Annabel in the dordogne who re homes unwanted cats. This little mite looked so like Charlotte, that we felt fate had sent her our way. Annabel warned us she was very timid and spent much time hiding under her bed, but was affectionate when roused out.  After collection, we found that that was indeed the case, we called the kitten Cache-Cache, which is French for hide and seek, as she would conceal herself away in our lounge, where she was confined so she didn't wander off, until she was bodily pulled out of hiding. The strange thing was, that once put on a knee, she would purr and cuddle, but once released it was the same game again. Gradually we won her trust and she would climb voluntarily onto a knee, at length could be released into the rest of the house and could be allowed out in the garden.  We had won out...or so we thought.
 In June this year we were away in the Pyrrenees as usual and a house-sitter was looking after the animals. Cache-Cache didn't seem to take to him, for when we came back she had reverted to her hide and seek persona, but as this time she was free in the garden, it w as not possible to lay hands upon her....we would see her from time to time at the outside feeding station but she would hide and run if approached, and thus it remained until very recently. We felt quite guilty talking to Annabel....then,, some two weeks ago, something changed. She started to mew at me as I fed the cats and finally let me touch her. Then ,one morning we heard a mewing at the back door and when we opened it, in walked Cahche-Cache. She is now quite tame again and will sit on my knee or on the sofa back most of the day!. We wonder what has changed her mind, maybe she senses winter approaching? Anyway we hope it's permanent!
  Bye for now settling down for my first night at Grand Feu.

Illness strikes the Ark

i told you recently of my painful attack of shingles three weeks ago.. Well now something even more serious has occurred, which has knocked us both back, as the Aussies say.
   On Tuesday, I noticed my left hand was feeling weak, it had a tendency to slip off the steering wheel as I drove. I wasn't much worried, the shingles have thrown up odd symptoms from time to time. The next morning it was obvious it was something serious, I could scarcely walk and as I staggered and tried to support myself with my left hand, it didn't work at all, and I collapsed onto a heap of bags. Kim tried to ring our doc but it was too early and she rang the 15 emergency number, who didn't muck about  but sent an ambulance straightaway to take me to Niort hospital. Loads of tests, including a scanner in the afternoon seemed to indicate I had suffered a small stroke affecting my arm, hand and to a lesser degree, my leg, all on my left side. I have spent five days in the Neurology dept being stabilised and have now been transferred to a rehabilitation unit Grand Feu for work to try to restore movement to my members.
  As you can imagine this has deeply shocked us both but we are trying to make the best of it. At least we get first class ,prompt treatment here and our Carte Vitale and Mutuelle will cover the high cost so it's not all bad. It's Kim I feel sorry for, she is left to cope with running the house and animals and driving to Niort each day. She has been a brick, always cheerful and encouraging.
   Bye for now, bit tired after the transfer.nice to be back on line, though!

vendredi 16 octobre 2015

Hedgehog stranded in the Ark roof, while sweeping chimney.

   I am writing to tell you of an incident which occurred a couple of weeks ago while Kim was visiting Al in the UK. I had decided to sweep the chimney, to have all in place for the coming cold season. i prefer to do it while Kim isn`t here, she has a tendency to follow me around with a dustpan and brush, which cramps my style... nevertheless, I had taken all possible precautions to avoid leaving any mess, including rolling back the carpet.
  Our wood-burning stove is fitted into the original chimney recess by the simple means of a board blocking the chimney throat, through which the stove-pipe leads to finish a couple of feet higher up the chimney.The board has to be removed to sweep the chimney, a messy and complicated operation which a professional sweep would find expensively costly. I find it better to undertake the work myself. once the board, of a special fire-proof wood, is removed, sweeping is easy, if grubby.
   Reading my title, you may have thought that i abused an inoffensive but bristly mammal to clear the soot. Nothing can be further from my thoughts, I like these little creatures and think i am feeding at least one along with our cats. We have bought a set of sweeps` brushes, consisting of rods which screw together and the  usual brush attached to one of the rods. This brush is called un herrisson by the French, a word which means hedgehog, hence my little joke.
   Accordingly, I rammed the brush and the first rod up the chimney, screwed the second and subsequent rods into place, pulling and pushing each one up and down to brush out the soot, I continue until a lack of resistance tells me I am at the top, confirming this from outside as you can see in my pic.At this point, my smoothly practiced routine broke down... I pulled the end rod down to withdraw the hedgehog and was worried by a curious lack of resistance. On withdrawing the last rod my fears were confirmed--the hedgehog had escaped, the brush had detached from the rod....
   Nothing else for it, the ladder had to be set up against the gutter, and I had to scale the roof, a process bad for the tiles and my nerves. Still, it was done without problems, and the errant animal was found resting just inside the top of the stack. All`s well that ends well and it is now re-attached in a dockyard manner!
  It only remained to put the board and stove-pipe back, clean up and put
all is back in order ready for the first ignition, which may well be tonight, it`s somewhat parky today.

  Bye for now, thinking of getting some logs in.

mercredi 14 octobre 2015

Ark hit by plague, when shingle isn't a beach.

  A week or so ago, I found I was getting pain in my right ear, together with pain in my mouth and swollen gland in my jaw. I visited my doc and she and I agreed that there was an infection best combatted with Amoxicilin, an antibiotic. However, a week later, I got all sorts of puzzling symptoms, including pain in my hair and teeth, a rash on my face including my beard and ache in my ear. Back to the docs I went suspecting an allergy to the Amoxicilin, but the doc brought me up short, making a definite diagnosis of 'Zona' which I found, is French for Shingles' !  Well, that was a new one for me....the doc  prescribed an antiviral medication plus an Alcohol wipe to treat the rash, which had developed into small pustules like chicken pox spots.
  Well, it was back home and dive for Google to see whatever is Shingles. It seems it is a strange recurrence of the chicken pox virus, which hides in the nervous system and lies dormant for many years before emerging when the patient is stressed, or his resistance is low. Relatively common in over seventies, it seems. A strange symptom is that the effects are one-sided, on one side of the body, not crossing the mid-line! A great aid to diagnosis...
  A comforting fact I learnt is that the condition is not infectious, you can't catch shingles from a sufferer. You can, however, pass on chicken pox to someone who has never had this illness, so you have to be careful, especially around children- no polite kissing as is usual here!
  The condition usually goes away after about four weeks, but can be quite painful while it lasts. The antiviral medication is chiefly to reduce this and reduce the risk of a recurrence, always a possibility. Rather worryingly, the doc asked if I had plenty of Paracetamol, I got the impression I might well need it...
  I suppose it's early days yet, but the pain isn't too bad, an ache in the ear and neck, chiefly but the painkiller is comforting especially when you're trying to sleep. Kim has been looking after me well, I'm really glad she's back from the UK.

   Bye for now, going to continue my convalescing.