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May, the story continues


So April was a slower than usual month for me and the beginning of May started off in much the same vein. I spent some time battling with my conscience about whether or not I could attend the upcoming wedding I’d been invited to; I felt awful when I made the decision to cancel my attendance but really I had no choice because I was too slow and my balance was poor, plus there was a good chance the Neuralgia would rear its ugly head which would make it near on impossible to talk. So it wasn’t a decision I made lightly and I felt bad letting down this couple who I’m very fond of but I was sure they’d understand.

It was my ex-wife’s birthday at the start of the month (no doubt she’ll change the word ‘ex’ to something else because she proof reads and edits this blog and hates the term ex).

NB {actually I haven’t because there is no other appropriate description!! But this has thrown up a suggestion now to give Roger’s friends initials rather than call them good friend, close friend or mate – hopefully this will make things a little clearer while respecting his decision not to actually name people}

Anyway back to the birthday and the fact that I depend on Amazon for those times when I have to buy presents. We’d recently watched Nigella - a rather lovely celebrity TV cook who we both enjoy watching, anyway as soon as the programme had finished I searched Amazon for some of the utensils we’d seen on the cooking programme and ordered them for CLS (as she will now be known!) Well it turned out to be a hit as she loved them which in turn made me happy. Although it frustrates me that I can no longer go shopping, at least I know I can rely on the web for pretty much all my needs. How times have changed; my mother hates the thought of shopping online because she likes to see and feel everything before buying so to her the internet has been designed by the devil and is the reason all her favourite stores are closing. Luckily garden centres survive so she’s still got somewhere to spend!

I also had a visit from my close friend – PH - who is fully aware of my illness and still tries her hardest to get close to me! Her workload as a professional cake maker and carer determines when she is able to visit as it’s a bit of a distance to travel but it’s harder for me to go to her because she has an upstairs toilet and no handrail going up the stairs to hang onto and I’m fairly sure the neighbours would be less than happy to see me relieving myself in her garden! On top of this her house is being refurbished presenting me with plenty of tripping hazards. So while it appears that she has ideas of taking things further, for me in all honesty it’s difficult because I’m still fighting memories of past relationships and a life I loved over the pond let alone the fact that this disease/illness has stolen the abilities I once prided myself on; yes I’m referring to the intimate moments which is another reason I put my barriers up. I also fear things are/may be getting worse with the MS and all in all I don’t feel like the man I once was so I’m out of my comfort zone and who knows where I’ll end up? I hate not being spontaneous and doing simple things like going for a walk or to a pub for a beer … but hey, things aren’t that bad especially when I heard news of someone who died recently too young; he was married to the lady in the States who introduced me to broccoli and other fine things in life (as mentioned in previous blogs). I felt so sad for her and writing this I’m struggling too; tears are welling up because sometimes life is so unfair and she is one of life’s gems who was so happy with this chap.

Since having MS particularly, I sometimes sit and think about my life and the great times I’ve had, the places I’ve been and the people I’ve met and I suppose like a lot of people I feel I could fill a book about the lives we’ve all led, the laughs we’ve had and the loves we’ve shared … oops – there I go again getting a bit melancholy so early in the month. It doesn’t help that outside the rain is tipping down, it’s grey and gloomy and it’s obviously reflected in my general countenance so let me lighten the load and tell you about yesterday …

All day there had been a horrible smell wafting round my bungalow - some might say the aroma of rotting vegetables or stale water but I had no idea what it was and I felt only a little bit guilty knowing I’d gone out leaving this rotten odour lingering when CLS came to edit my blog and would have to sit in it while I enjoyed a trip to the cinema. No doubt you want to know which film I was off to see – was it the action packed Avengers or a chick flick (which I love watching) - No, neither of these. I actually went to see Dumbo. Yes, my partner in crime and girlfriend from 40+ years ago (LB) chose Dumbo. She often tells me to grow a pair because I hate horror films and cringe (like a girl) when the scary bits come on but also on top of that I love watching Bridget Jones (!) but there we were watching a film about a flying bloody elephant - where did it all go wrong?? On a serious note I admit I quietly enjoyed it and returned home to find CLS typing away, suffering the offensive smell which she’d noticed and attempted to find, unsuccessfully. After she left I poked my head into every cupboard, the fridge, the back of the couch, sniffing each time like Norman The Nose in the hope of locating the cause of the smell. I was also unsuccessful. (I just have to add here that I used to be known as Norman The Nose, not because I have a big one – it’s actually quite nice, a little wonky, but cute) but because I could sniff out all kinds of weird odours however, this pungent mystery had me beat. My sister and her son popped over to sort out my meds and they also looked for the smell. The good thing about this bit was when her son went straight to the washing machine and informed me it has an automatic self-clean facility. I’ve had the machine for three years and had no idea about this, so we switched it on and after about 70 minutes the self-clean ended and I convinced myself the smell had gone and that all was well again in the Southall household.

My regular Friday afternoon bingo provided plenty of laughs and yet again mother won a line. I haven’t won a penny for a while but on the plus side I always do well in the quiz so I suppose I should be happy with that. On my return home I had a visit from a female friend who I’d recently gone with to meet a newly diagnosed MS sufferer and today she’d called by to pick up information on diets and MS in general. She insisted on taking a selfie with me! I thought only youngsters did that, but hey, Dumbo one day, selfies the next – living the life!

The weekend was a real treat, kicking off with an early football match with mates; well, neighbours is more accurate since they only live a few doors away! We had a laugh and at half time I served up pizza and fries - a typical lad thing although I was actually the youngest at 60 so ‘lads’ sounds wrong although listening to the banter we sounded like kids!!! At about 5pm my mate from Eastbourne (Stud) visited with his two dogs for a weekend of laughter/stupidity, food and football - oh and a haircut as he really is a superb barber. We went to a local pub, which wasn’t bad but also wasn’t that good either so I’m hoping next weekend will be better as I have a return trip booked!

On Sunday we made our regular trek down to the park to give the dogs a run and say hi to all the other dog walkers as well as having a sausage and tomato sandwich! The park café is a fantastic place and this summer I will no doubt spend a lot of time there. My weekend was pretty full on with my mate and as ever we laughed a lot, ate a lot and made fools of ourselves which was just what I needed as I know something isn’t quite right – I’m slower than usual and the Neuralgia is back in my tongue but on the plus side I suppose it gives everyone a rest from my jabbering!

Knowing things aren’t right I ended up cancelling not only the wedding I’d been invited to but also planned visits to PH and her daughter and a trip up north to another friend. Disappointingly an MS meeting had to be re-scheduled which was particularly annoying as it was one of my first but I didn’t want to be seen at my worst. This prompts me to question where the new drugs are and when the physio department are going to get in touch. That said, I admit I’m still wary about taking new drugs as I have little trust in them being able to improve my health. Time will tell but all I know is that I’m not having a great time at the moment. And this really is why I write this blog, so that you, the reader get an insight into MS. Right now I really don’t have either the strength or inclination to hide behind laughter and cream cakes as in past months when days like these were pretty rare. Unfortunately it seems that these days have now become the norm and I want you to understand that while the slowness, lack of energy and Neuralgia basically frustrate me, I really am in little pain. In the quiet moments I still imagine doing all the things I used to and have to remind myself that I am no longer that same person. Financially I’m not the high earner I used to be which has been instrumental in me having to cut my cloth, as the saying goes. This is another downside and has taken some getting used to. In spite of all this I’m at peace, comfortable with life and have accepted my limitations. I tackle the slow days as best I can and consequently I am trying to stop planning ahead too much and just take things as they come.

Now, back to the mystery smell that I thought had gone - unfortunately I’ve noticed the odd niff again and eventually traced the root of the problem to the fridge although I’d checked there originally and hadn’t found anything. Until now that is! A little while ago a friend brought round two large bags of vegetables (from a cheap food store - don’t start me off on that subject) and they’d obviously leaked into every runner and tray in the fridge causing the offensive smell. The good thing is that I found it but the bad thing was that as I struggled to pull out the fridge and give it a good clean, the effort knocked me about and for the rest of the day I couldn’t move apart from every now and then getting up and having the odd sniff, not that I’m paranoid or anything but I think it’s gone for good now!

So now that the football season is over, I made the radical decision to clear the biscuit barrel, dispatch any chocolate from the cupboards and purge the house of any other goodies lurking around as I can no longer stand in the shower feeling like Friar Tuck, taking longer to wash and dry what has now become a large lump of blubber – sorry, too much information! But if and when I descend on a beach again, I want to feel good even wearing my hat (seen in last blog) and feel reasonably attractive. Anyway the lack of treats is hard as my will power will be called upon and boredom will set in making it even worse, but I figure if temptation is removed I will win.

I went out for a meal last night despite feeling a little low and toying with cancelling but because it was a short trip and the two guys I was meeting up with are good friends, I decided to go - and I’m so glad I did because it was just the tonic I needed. We talked business, both past and present and laughed a lot. It was a treat to sit in their company and to top it all I resisted dessert! I managed to turn down the sticky toffee pudding even though I had to watch the others demolish theirs, smothered in custard; it was hard but I did it. One nil to me! The evening flew by and I was touched that they treated me which I find difficult but I recognised as a welcome gesture and look forward to the next time.

As I write this I’m feeling dandy - what a choice of words that is but it describes pretty well how I am! I’m off to a friend’s house to wait in for a surveyor so she doesn’t have to take a day off. I end up passing the time playing with her dog. The Surveyor turned up, did his bit and cleared off again, leaving me time to go to the park - it was a beautiful day and I fancied a coffee and hoped to see friends and their dogs. I spend quite a while there as it is a place where I feel relaxed and often end up chatting to complete strangers. I felt so good after sitting in the sunshine that I decided to go home and do a little housework and perhaps make a few calls. This was a good day and I’m pleased to say I did the housework and calls so felt I’d achieved a lot. One of my calls was across the pond to my special PS - I had been thinking a lot about her mother as I know she hasn’t been well had missed playing Word on Facebook with her. I worry about them both and know P must find things hard but in her usual way she hid all her issues and gave me a motivational speech about how I should eat well. I miss her kick up the backside and rabbit food diet advice!!! While we were chatting I could hear the aircon in her car as the summer temperatures over there have really kicked in, reminding me how much I loved living there, driving to Punta Gorda to pick this special lady up from work. It would be hot and sunny; heavenly in fact. There were times when you could sit out and have a drink while enjoying the views and weather. I also loved riding my motorbike to Casey Key to watch the boats and the fisherman. A friend of mine in Sarasota posted the journey to the Key online with the sea on one side and property that blew your mind on the other. It was perhaps my favourite ride ever - the one thing I hold onto are these kind of great memories and later in the year I hope to be able to go over there again, we shall see.

Since writing that last sentence things have changed as on my return home there was a letter from the hospital re-arranging my appointment with the consultant to 1st October so after a Skype call with my friend TB across the pond, we both agreed to postpone my visit until mid-January. It makes sense especially as my sister will be 60 so I’ll be around for that as well as having a good time with mother over Christmas. Sometimes things change for good reason.

It’s not often I get to spend a whole afternoon with CLS (the ex), apart from when she slaves away at this blog for hours at a time! But recently we went to a lovely little café that does afternoon teas which we’d said we would to a while back and it was good to catch up after her holiday in Turkey. It also gave her the opportunity to browse the furniture and curios in the back of this little emporio where they upcycle old furniture as well as having a tea room. It was a lovely couple of hours and afterwards I popped to the park for a cup of tea in the sunshine. I bumped into the lady who ran over me on her scooter last year which I wrote about it in an earlier blog. She is one of the most interesting people I meet at the park and she really is a character so we have good, friendly banter. She is also well known and she always remarks on how I tell everyone about how she ran me over. We had a laugh (at my expense) about the picture of me in my hat that I posted in last month’s blog. I told her I’d attracted a lot of female attention from that picture - I can’t write what her reply was! That was a great day because I felt good, the weather and the company was super and I suppose times like this tend to make you forget the down times.

My mate JS visited me today and I had the shock of my life as he stood there in the doorway. I deliberately tried to hide my emotions which were a mixture of happiness as well as shock and here’s why – I’ve written about him many times on my blog but never elaborated on the fact that he had sepsis and was close to death, resulting in the loss of part of his leg. We took a little comfort knowing that a guy we both knew in Sarasota lost his leg in the same place many years ago and he runs a hotel, is married to a stunning woman and sails. Because of this I felt sure JS would recover but to see him standing at my door and looking so well, I was thrilled. I’d lent him my scooter for a few weeks before he had his prosthetic leg fitted and you just never know how it’s going to work out do you? Anyway we visited my son who was celebrating his birthday the following day. After chatting with him we went off to a transport café as my friend is convinced these places offer great food at great prices and I have to say he was right! We spent the rest of the day in the garden. This was another really good, happy day and I was genuinely made up for JS and his new leg which has given him a new lease of life again. He reads this blog and told me he felt for my neighbours and the sight of me in ill-fitting undies, so he bought me a few new pairs - priceless !!!

Last weekend I drove to Sutton Coldfield to spend time with PH who I mentioned earlier - it was an opportunity to meet her family including the other half of the twin daughters who I hadn’t previously met. Like her twin she is a stunner and while they are alike in mannerisms they are otherwise completely different even in looks although they are both beauties. She’s getting married in a few weeks so it has been a busy time for the family and for one night we all gathered together to celebrate my friend’s birthday. There’ll be no reason to forget it as she shares the same birthday as my son! The boyfriends were also there and it was an enjoyable end to the month.

To summarise May - it has been a strange month; the weather has been super on the whole apart from the odd down pour; health wise I struggled earlier in the month yet in the last week I felt great and while I toyed with taking new medication a few weeks ago, towards the end of the month my reluctance to do anything crept back in but I’m aware of the downfalls and will accept help in the form of a new drug.

Well that’s it, please feel free to comment and share.

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ROGER SOUTHALL. PROUDLY CREATED WITH WIX.COM