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January 2020

We celebrate two birthdays at the end of December – firstly my mother’s on the 29th, and we treated her to afternoon tea at the Chateau Impney. It was actually unplanned but thought it seemed like a good idea to spoil her. The pictures show how much she enjoyed it and the historic venue is quite a romantic place –

apparently a local business man and salt mine owner had it built to attract his French lady love to make her feel at home and it worked! Romantic devil! The second celebration on the 30th was my sister’s 60th which also turned out to be a great evening. We hired a private room (and before you all jump to conclusions, NO! It wasn’t to hide us from other diners!) It was because this room had a large, circular dining table making it more sociable so we could all chat as it’s not often we get all the family together. We have no more big celebrations coming up now until Auntie Hazel and Uncle Alan celebrate their 60th Wedding Anniversary.

Anyway, the food at my sister’s do was excellent and I’d ordered her a cake which was spectacular. The main thing was that she had a fabulous evening and I’m sure having all the family around made it special as she’s normally the one running round organising everyone else but this was her night - which was swiftly followed by New Year’s Eve. Being single, I stayed at home as I like to reflect on the passing year and prepare for the new one - not that I have any clue what to expect – apart from my son’s wedding of course - but we’ll see … Belated Happy New Year to everyone reading this.

During the first week of January I had to pick my friend up from the airport following her festive trip to Washington DC to spend Christmas with her chap. It was good to see her looking rested and happy – we had lots to catch up on as I drove her home. Later that week I met up with my old mate SH who I hadn’t seen for a while and at the weekend I arranged to have coffee with another old work colleague who I also hadn’t seen in a long time but it was as if I’d only seen him yesterday! This guy was part of a great team I had when we worked at Sensormatic; we were the team everyone wanted to beat, but we were special. There was NC (who you saw in a past blog) and now GS pictured below, who was both a great salesman and lovely guy. No doubt I will get pictures of at least two more of our team at some point. I recently went up to Leicester where I met up with MS and then JB who I see regularly and who is a good friend too. Anyway, without going on too much, I have to tell you that this team of mine was considered the crème de la crème when it came to sales.

GS and I reminisced and took pleasure in remembering the times which ultimately changed the directions we both went in. It was such fun and we will definitely meet up again soon. It shows how caring this guy is; he gave me a book on healing and the mind and I think this demonstrated a sincerity seldom shown by people and this is what makes Gary stand out from the crowd.

I'd been trying to pull an MS meeting group together for the end of the month and initially it looked like there were six or seven up for it although I'd hoped we might reach 12 or more. With the help of social media I kept persevering and later in this blog I'll update you on how I got on …

I had an appointment with my MS nurse to try and ascertain what the problem was with my right hand. She very pleasantly explained in detail that it is 'MS Hand' - a ridiculous term in my opinion but simply means that the MS is affecting my right side and the progression means my hand is now under its control. In addition, my recent blood results flagged up a high cholesterol level. I have no idea why and I suppose I should look into it ... Anyway, 2020 is a New Year so I have joined a new, local 24 hour gym which means I can go down late in the evening when it's quiet and although I don't do a lot, I'm building my time up gradually as well as improving my diet. Desserts are pretty much out now while fruit and vegetables are very much in! I know I'm never going to achieve a washboard stomach but it's important to keep myself moving and who knows - I may delay whatever it is attacking my body. I'm actually having a decent month; yes, I'm slow first thing in the morning but my days have been pain-free which is a bonus and I make the most of it while I can. I even go and see my son at his place of work which is great. I just hoped the upcoming visit to the specialist who operated on my Neuralgia two years ago would prove hopeful.

The football season is still in full swing meaning my slow cooker is put to use! I successfully prepared a lovely, tender Chicken Chasseur with a taste of tomatoes and lots of mixed vegetables for myself and my football-watching buddies, which was delicious and the football wasn't bad either! My mate TB from the States Skyped me and we spent a good while bantering back and forth – he really is a breath of fresh air and I remain hopeful that he'll still fly over this summer ... we shall see. As I'm writing this Gary Moore is playing, “Still Got the Blues” - a song that grabs me every time I hear it so I'm breaking off.

Considering it's a five-week month, January has flown by and I'm at a loss as to where the time has gone. I look in my diary and see the names of the usual people I see. My ex calls in as usual and my sister, who was a nurse, has started a new job so she's been busy. She retired at the age of 60 and is now working in the undertaking business! I'm not joking! I visualise her dressed from head to toe in black, walking in front of a hearse! In actual fact she advises people and does admin. I have no doubt that she'd lend a hand grave digging if necessary! Anyway I'm told that she can give me a good rate if and when! Bingo is back on over the road so mother is happy and throughout Christmas and January I felt so much better in myself; the George Clooney look seems to have returned!

I arrived two hours early for my long awaited appointment with the specialist and was seen 40 minutes late! I explained my various troubles with my tongue which he looked at and about the odd shooting pains in my nose which he also prodded about. He then sat back and informed me that my tongue has nothing to do with the nerve area he treated two years ago and that it's all part of Progressive MS. He did say how pleased he was that my face remained calm and if ever I need the procedure doing again it will always be available. He advised me to stay on the painkillers and do the best I could - so on one hand I was delighted because it meant the first procedure was indeed a success but on the other hand I was disappointed that my tongue falls into the same category as my right hand. I'm now more determined than ever to improve my diet and try to exercise. I know some people will say “I told you so” but from where I'm sitting, life has so many downers that diet just adds to the misery but I will try my best. I guess I was hoping for a quick fix but it is what it is.

I've realised when I'm typing that my right hand sometimes fails to hit a key and with this gammy hand I'm slower than ever which leads to a bad case of Tourette’s! As I'm swearing away I think about my sweet neighbour and hope the music drowns out most of it! I've mentioned before about the voice controlled software for my computer which I really need to get now. My concern with this is that it reminds me of many years ago when I used a Dictaphone (no smutty jokes thank you!) I apparently used to babble into mine which drove my secretary mad because I'd go on about all sorts of things that popped into my mind! My ex already laughs when she's proofreading and editing this blog; she reads out exactly what I've written which is mumbo jumbo and fortunately (because she knows me so well), manages to sort it into what you end up reading (often with the help of popcorn and chocolate!)

I've been enjoying these mornings where I get up feeling OK, take my meds and put on the leg pads with ease because I've inked exactly where my pads need to go (like badly drawn tattoos!) I'm dressed and able to walk (in a fashion), around my little bungalow and in the words of Nina Simone “I'm feeling good”.

LB, my old friend and regular visitor agreed to accompany me to the gym; this will encourage her to get fit as well as reduce her intake of wine and be company for me! It should be a laugh anyway. I can no longer do what I used to but I'm trying to get some muscle strength back. Some days I have no energy and can't exercise at all but I have to try when I can because, as the saying goes, “Use it or lose it” and mixing with different people is actually quite pleasant. So far not one person has asked what's wrong with me as I wobble around, walking stick in hand, with wires coming down my leg from under my shorts – maybe it's just today's generation who aren't interested, whereas I would definitely have asked what's wrong because I'm a nosy so-and-so, but that's me, straight to the point, no fear! That said, these days I'm a little withdrawn and I suppose self-conscious but I feel I'm improving and hopefully this current way of life may help. We'll see. I think that maybe last month I was suffering from an awful bug that was going around because I feel so good now in comparison (apart from the doddering and the odd fall when I lose balance) but I may still apply to be James Bond's stunt double – I could practice so that the next time I fall I could finish with a roll to add to the effect!

So we held the first MS meeting at the Holiday Inn and although the numbers were a bit low, it was actually a worthwhile meet up and the ones who turned up thoroughly enjoyed it. We laughed, covered a few issues and basically enjoyed one another’s company. The next date has been set and hopefully the numbers will grow. I genuinely believe meetings like this are essential; it allows fellow sufferers to talk openly about their concerns and conditions – I personally was reassured about my hand and the fact that my FES is working well. Three of us had this unit on and we all praised it, so there you go, that was a success.

In the last week of January I was invited to attend what was described as a 'balance class' – well, I like a laugh but when the first woman was wheeled in I started to wonder. She was 84 years old and as deaf as a post. She sat next to me chuntering on about her stroke as I was thinking this was not the class for me! Five minutes later another person was wheeled in – this one must have been well over 90. I thought they must have made a mistake inviting me to this and it continued to get worse so I decided to leave. I spoke with a secretary (the one that I have a soft spot for) and told her there must have been a mistake. Thankfully she agreed so my apologies were made and I was let out! Crazy! After this little incident a Patient Panel I'd been asked to sit on at a regional hospital was cancelled due to illness; what a day. You couldn’t make these things up!

I'm winding this month up and for a while I've decided to make this blog Bi-monthly as I seriously consider putting a book together instead - I have a few ideas to go along with the 20 plus blogs I've already written, giving an insight into my background and when I believe the MS symptoms started. It will include how I was coping with things in general a few years ago, along with my general health and temperament back then and my reasons for moving to the States. It will be a more detailed overview of my life, the people in it and my work across the pond. So until March stay safe and well x