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Trying hard to exude confidence and calm I had a lift to the station and registered at the Assistance desk.

I was very heartened to be met by a young woman who greeted me by name holding a form with my details on it. I was whisked away in a wheelchair accompanied by a rather worried husband, and put on the train, followed by my suitcase. We set off gaily waving goodbye to ‘other half’ who says he is looking forward to some bachelor time!!

The first part of this trip was completely uneventful and when we drew into St Pancras there were two young women waiting on the platform for my coach. Apart from having to look in my suitcase to find my Eurostar ticket which I had mistakenly packed (senior moment/nerves) all went smoothly and I was wheeled straight to Eurostar Assistance.

However, here we met with a problem. My suitcase was weighed and came in at 21k. The weight limit per case had been changed (I was told it was hidden in the small print) and although I could have taken two cases totalling 30 k my one case was not acceptable. To have the case go with me on the train would be an extra £30.00 each way. To add insult to injury I had specially chosen the one case as being easier for those helping me. And it was half full of medical supplies, not geegaws or nicknacks!

I had a good chat with the luggage booking clerk the upshot of which was that he disobeyed all the rules, refused to take payment saying he felt it was discrimination and insisted on taking it to the train personally and putting it on for me. He said that some of them still had a heart despite the corporate ethos. We ended by discussing particle physics, the state of health of his mum (why does everyone appear young nowadays?) and he said what a shame I did not have longer before my train or we could go for a coffee and discuss string theory!

Once again I was helped onto the train and happily settled: my gluten-free meal came as ordered and all went smoothly until Paris where two gents were waiting for me as the carriage drew in.  They whisked me and luggage straight to the taxis where they had already booked me a taxi which was waiting at the front of the queue.

There followed a drive filled with panache, hooting and hand gestures during which I sat back and enjoyed the tree-lined Boulevards, the Circulation, the Seine, the bridges, and so many old haunts.  We flashed over the Pont Royal, past the Musee d’Orsay, down the Left Bank and turned into the 7th Arrondisement where nary a riot or strike was in evidence

Quel surprise!

My friend had arrived earlier that morning from the airport and opened up the flat and came down to open the door for me after the driver had reassured himself that someone was meeting me.  He held up the following traffic for me and the crutches to get out of his taxi insisting that there was no hurry at all.

So there we have it: all my fears were groundless and in fact I was bowled over by the kindness and patience of strangers (exactly as Jocelyn predicted, omniscient woman!)

So, here I am, back in Paris, with my great friend, and we will just have to see what I can manage. Or not.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For over a year my friend from California and I have had a plan to return to Paris together this Spring, after the fun we had last Easter.

We have been organising a small apartment in a cheaper part of the city, buying cheap advance train tickets to other parts of France and booking Air B&B places to stay when we got there.

Deposits have been paid, flights and Eurostar booked and we were all set for adventure until this upset to my knee.  All through recent events I have been determined not to cancel but it was looking really impossible. So, after the MRI, I rang the Train company in the UK and Eurostar to examine my options for assisted travel. Everyone  I spoke to was sympathetic, helpful and went out of their way to explain what might work for me.

So, much against the advice and opinions of those around me, I have booked wheelchair assistance to all trains and connections with luggage being put on and off trains too. I have changed my seats to single, airplane type seats so that neither I nor anyone sitting near me might be inconvenienced by my immobility.

I have to admit to being afraid: of pain, of making things worse with the knee, of appearing a helpless old woman and of being  dependent on others. Of the reported strikes and being abandoned on a ‘foreign shore’ unable to help myself. It is salutary to appreciate that this is what many people must have to face for much of their lives if they wish to travel.

But I do not know what the rest of this year holds for me medically and I cannot bear to let my friend down so, with cold, clammy hands  and a tight fist round my stomach, I am going for it.  I shall wear a spotty kerchief and a hat and take some marmalade sandwiches in case I need rescuing;)

I have bought a snazzy, scarlet walking stick (with coloured spots all over to match my scarf) and will paint my crutches with the tricolour going for a ‘disabled chic’ look.

Mercifully, just in the last few days,  the swelling has subsided, finally, and with it much of the pain, all thanks to the ugly, ironclad but wonderful leg brace which is holding the knee together.

A young nurse friend has offered me a lift to the station and I was greatly affected when she hugged me and said she was proud of me for going. As against those who prophecy doom and gloom.

We have yet to see what help actually materialises.  Oh yes, and the State Department has issued a warning to US citizens to avoid the part of Paris we are going to because of riots, tear gas and ongoing strike action.

Wish me luck, because although I may appear intrepid, I always have to push myself to do things since I insist that fear will not diminish my life, and I am usually scared!!

Kind young men:)

It was some time before I could even get into a vehicle to go and have the MRI. This was a worry but using a fearsome leg brace (all straps, metal and Velcro pads and looking like something from the first world war) I managed with pain and difficulty to get into our son’s car and be ferried to hospital.

I was duly transferred to the waiting area where a nurse enquired whether I had anything metal about my person. I explained about the leg brace and her immediate response was that it would have to come off.  I agreed that in a heavily magnetised machine it would not be a good idea but that it would have  to remain in place until I was lying on the bed of the machine.

She exclaimed in horror that this was not possible as the metal in the brace would interfere with the magnets!! I was equally adamant that I could not move even half  an inch without the brace because of the pain.  Stalemate.

At this point I was getting upset and tired from the efforts I had made to actually get there as well as the pain levels so Isuggested that I went home.

“But you need the MRI”, she exclaimed. Well, yeah . . . .  Duh?

I remained silent and immovable, not hard in the circumstance, leaning against the wall pinned to my crutches.

Luckily she gave up at this point and said she would go and speak to the Radiologists. 20 mins later and no signs of anyone so once more I was preparing to leave: by this time I and the wall had been making friends for over an hour.

When, out of the blue a handsome young chap in his early thirties came hurrying down the corridor and reminiscent of Apollo 13 said, “I gather we have a problem?” He was one of the Radiologists. I explained and he grinned and said there was alway a way round everything and that he  and his colleague were two strong young men and he was sure they could cope. I almost fell into his arms then and there:)

So I hobbled into the anteroom of the MRI machine and was asked to leave my crutches at the door, whereat each chap took an arm and I was regally escorted, hopping like a rabbit, towards the magnets and the flatbed of the machine.

Very slowly I inched my way onto the couch, oohing and aaahing the while until finally the leg was in position.  Then the fun began.  I was just about to remove the brace when they urgently asked me to stop.

The lovely blokes said that they would have to take the leg brace off together, on the count of three, one holding each end to avoid it being whipped away and dragged towards the magnets and into the machine.  The whole process was so funny as they gingerly undid the straps while holding onto the body of the brace for dear life and then in one smooth movement pulled it away and took it out of the room.  So gentle, kind and understanding and making no issue of the process at all.

From then on all was plain sailing and an hour later I was ringing to ask for my lift home.

The results came back ten days later, I do not understand them yet but I gather that a lot of damage has been done and I have been referred to an Orthopaedic consultant. Given that I have allergies to painkillers,  antibiotics and anaesthetics I am unsure as to my options.  However, one lesson I learned from this scan was that with a willingness to find a way through hopefully all is not yet lost:)

Here’s a toast to helpful young men (and women) wherever they may be. Cheers chaps!!

 

As I mentioned in my last post, I have been suffering from a leg injury.

Many, many years ago I slipped on a saliva-rich, cat-feeding plate which happened to be on the kitchen floor (I’ve never been house-proud), span across the room and dislocated a knee-cap on the way.  That knee has always been a little weak ever since but recently there have been a few small episodes which have not helped it.

Three months ago I tore some cartilage turning abruptly on that leg at the top of a rise of steps.  I felt it go and waited for it to heal. When it did not I visited a locum doctor where I was diagnosed with arthritis, which I hotly denied, and sent for an X-ray instead of the MRI I requested.

As I expected the X-ray showed nothing to be wrong, but my doctor was away and rather than see the locum again I took myself off to see a physio who confirmed that the knee joint was fine and agreed with me about the cartilage.  We had a very jolly hour as I was invited to talk about myself in order for him to assess my muscular-skeletal health.

He aked some questions which surprised me: “Do you play a musical instrument?”

Apparently this was suggested by the way I sit in a chair.

“Do you ride horses?”

Apparently this was suggested by the way I walk.

His diagnosis was that yes, indeed, I had injured the cartilage, but that the old dislocation of my knee-cap had altered my stance and gait causing further problems.  His prescription, “Learn how to ‘mosey’ when walking:  loosen up, turn your feet out and move your arms and upper body”.

This I have been doing, with the result that I ended up walking like a constipated duck.

He also gave me some exercises for my knee.

Off I went home to put this all into action.

The constipated duck regularly walked the dogs in public (!) and lay on the bed doing knee exercises.

Now I always believed that ‘no pain, no gain’ – so in order to increase muscle strength around the poorly knee-cap I counted the reps until the muscles began to feel a little tired.  200 reps. OK, tired muscle, time to stop.  Very sensible.

On my next visit to the physio the knee was huge, swollen and sore.

The physio collapsed with laughter and disbelief: “I normally have to urge my patients to activity, not rein them back.  I shall have to be clearer with you.  Only five or ten reps two or three times a day, and never when there is any pain.  And wait until the swelling goes down.”

It took ten days for the swelling to go down.  And at the end of it I fell down stairs bending that very knee back under me.  Back to swollen knee again.

Two weeks later I did the very same thing all over again.

And then did the Spring digging to get the vegetable garden ready for planting out all my lovely young seedlings.

Bad, bad, move.

Back to physio.  “What is going on with this knee?”

I explained what had happened.

“You were digging using the knees as fulcrums.”

“Of course,” I replied, “That is what we are all told.  Do not use your back, use your legs.”

“You took that advice to heart didn’t you”, he laughed.  Rest was recommended.

However, on the way home sudden pain shot through my knee every time I depressed the clutch to change gear.  By the time I arrived back chez nous I was white and shivering with pain having screamed each time I changed gear and stalled the car at least five times when I just could not bear it.

And now?  Clearly, the knee cap is compromised and given the progression from bad to terrible, clearly something is badly wrong.  I can only walk on crutches at the moment and even turning over in bed is a nightmare, while getting up from a chair and going to the loo are actions I only perform when absolutely essential.

On her return I asked my usual doctor to send me for an MRI scan to show up anything that might happening to the soft tissue.  Like I requested months ago.  Exasperation.  Why do medics never believe that we know what is happening with our own bodies?

Anyway, yesterday I went for the MRI, which is a whole story of its own.

An inspiration

Life has been complicated lately: I have had a couple of accidents, nothing in themselves but the accumulation of trauma has caused an old injury on a knee to re-assert itself.  So I have not been able to sit, lift or drive.  Walking is compromised and going to the loo is cause for imagination and extra dexterity!!

Husband is not himself either, so all in all, we have had some weeks of abnormal home life.  At  least, I insist that it is abnormal and not the beginning of new ‘normal’ around her.

I have had to cancel a couple of trips to see close friends, one in Ireland and the other in Oban, much to my disappointment.  And also had to cancel our appointments with the Supervet to take our two dogs for consultations:(

There is another trip planned which I will tell you about in another post, so fingers crossed it will come to pass.

But I wanted to share a short video with you of the most inspiring and wonderful person who has helped me enormously this year while I was feeling so helpless and desperate.  I identify so much with her and regard her as a role model.

I hope you enjoy this too:)

 

This was the first post on this blog! It was such a fun day that I wanted to share it. For those who never read the beginning of this blog I hope you enjoy some early posts:)

stopping by woods

Great excitement this week!!  

I need new glasses for reading music: when I rang to make an appointment they suggested that I came not for a consultation but for a quick check of my recent prescription.  But the day and time they suggested was when they had the local Fire Brigade in for eye checks.

The Receptionist and I engaged in some pleasurable anticipation of hunks in leathers wearing shiny helmets.

With no timed appointments but a general throughput of fire fighters, this morning was thought to be a good time for me to come in and experiment with sight reading musical notation.

No argument from me!!!

However, as so often occurs, the reality was not as good as the fantasy.

Only a handful of chaps turned up – and they were all wannabee firemen – not serving officers.  And not particularly memorable either.

One bloke did come dashing upstairs…

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New family member

I was reminded of this previous post and decided to reblog it. Hope you like!

stopping by woods

A new member of the household came to live with us yesterday.

‘Nipper’ the RCA/HMV dog which for so many years was the company logo has come to sit in our living room, looking with interest at the record player, tape deck and CD player which sit on shelves in a corner.

About fifteen years ago I and husband were on holiday in Suffolk, staying in Orford.  One evening we were walking through the main street on our way to eat at the Oysterage Restaurant: not that we are keen on oysters but we love the wild-grown samphire which they serve there, freshly gathered from the seashore.   Hot, innately salty and covered with butter it is wonderful.  Eaten as an appetiser before a meal of locally caught and in-house, wood-smoked fish, you are in heaven.

As we passed the Antique Shop we noticed a model of Nipper in the…

View original post 740 more words

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