The problem of rogue walking frames

My mother-in-law has been sprung from hospital where she’s been since Christmas.  She’s had a number of falls mainly because she refuses to use her walking stick or her walking frame. She doesn’t like the necklace that’ll summon help either – she dangles it over her bedside lamp where its neither use nor ornament. The falls in turn led to her taking to her bed and not taking her various medications – “Well I don’t need them, do I?  I’m in my night dress.”

“Yes, Mam you do.”

“But I only take my tablets during the day.”

“It’s day time whether you’re dressed or not. Remember what the nurse said?”

“Humph.  To full of her own importance that one.   And another thing.  You can take that dratted noise away.”


“That phone.  I don’t like it ringing and its too complicated, all those buttons.”

“But if you’re in your bedroom you won’t be able to answer the phone when it rings in the living room.”

This was met by silence.

“Mam, we get ever so worried when you don’t pick up the phone.  Anything could have happened.”

“I’ll be perfectly alright.”

“But we don’t know that do we?”

“I will.”

As there is no answer to that we let the conversation drop but forgot to remove the phone when we left having got things organised for her post hospital life, not that it’ll make any difference.  She won’t answer it.

So the carers are in place…again.  My sister-in-law is going to meet them on Tuesday.  There’s food in the fridge for the carers to prepare in date order from left to right across the fridge and there’s a walking stick in every room – holding the walls up.  For some reason best known to themselves the hospital which doesn’t offer chiropody to its elderly patients even when its clear that its required (that’s a whole different saga) has chosen to send another walker and another one appears to have arrived to form a herd of the things – so that’s three frames neatly located in three different rooms gathering dust – “These frames are too wide.  Besides they make furrows in the carpet.  Just like rotators they are.”

I think she meant rotivators.  Oddly enough I haven’t noticed any frame users ploughing up the pavements let alone the Axminster but what do I know?  “Mam, the doctors said that you needed to use the frame  or stick to help you keep your balance.”

“He was on work experience,” My mother-in-law waved a regal hand, “He wasn’t old enough to be a real doctor but I’ll say this for him he had very nice manners.  Besides I shall be staying in bed.”

“You can’t do that.  The doctors said you’ve got to keep moving.  Remember what they said about thrombosis and bed sores.  That nurse said there was no reason why we shouldn’t take you out for a drive and a nice cup of tea if you were well wrapped up.  Wouldn’t you like to go out, even for a little while?”

“No.  And as for wasting money drinking from public cups – I don’t know what they teach them these days.”

“I think, generally speaking, that cafes wash their cups between customers and I think we can run to a cup of tea and a slice of cake.”

“I can’t eat cake.  I’m diabetic.”

Best not to mention the large tin of chocolate Tunnock bars I found in the kitchen then.





A SMART new year

pile-of-booksThe madams have gone leaving a strange silence in their wake.  The Christmas decorations are coming down.  I can never work out the date for the saying about decorations and twelfth night.  Is it January 5th or January 6th that the decorations need to come down in order to avoid a year of bad luck? If Christmas starts on Christmas Eve its the 5th; otherwise it’s the 6th. I should also add that it would be very unlucky indeed for a length of tinsel to be sucked inside the vacuum cleaner and that I want to get the house back into a state of order before normal service resumes.

Its also time for the resolutions and plans for 2017 – best done without three small persons in tow.  HWIOO informed me that being more organised is far too vague and that whilst becoming a best selling novelist (which has featured on my list since I was eight years old) is okay it perhaps needs to be broken down into several smaller steps – like sending the manuscript to agents listed in the Writers and Artists Yearbook.  He added that my targets, as I should already know, need to be smart; as in specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound.  My concern is that I will be audited in March to see what progress I’ve made!

However, I have already achieved three of my SMART targets – registering at a dentist, finally changing the address for my library card and finding out about the local swimming pool.  You’ll note I’ve not actually been swimming.  Think of it as a build up to plunging in the deep end.  I’ve also identified that there are regular aqua-aerobics classes in the pool but I don’t think it would be a terribly good idea at the moment any more than going on a cycle ride with HWIOO in his current state of unbalance would be a good idea – so the doctor’s surgery information video about doing 120 minutes exercise this week is probably not going to happen – though HWIOO has looked for our various books of walks.  I have a feeling that discussing our favourite walks from the comfort of the living room doesn’t count.

My next resolution is to sort out our books.  HWIOO has dragged me kicking and screaming into the 21st century with a kindle for Christmas which is very exciting as I can download books at the click of a button assuming the Internet is actually working. There is also the rather practical caveat that we are not going to buy any more book cases and there’s only so much space under the bed.  The Pottermeister suggested that I could photocopy recipes and craft ideas from books that I’m keeping for one or two things and then hand the book into a local charity shop – which if I’m honest is my main source of crafting books in the first place- it should reduce the collection somewhat.  We don’t keep fiction on the grounds we’d have to move every eighteen months if we did.  Culling reference books is always tricky and I’m still recovering from the fact that I accidentally took a box of books I wanted to keep to the charity shop when we moved.  I suspect the thinning is going to be a bit of an uphill struggle although now that I’ve gone electronic I can have as many virtual books as I want and no one will ever notice (cue manic laughter punctuated by coughing).

The next thing is to organise the book cases.  HWIOO is concerned that some of the shelves are buckling under the weight of their load so I’m under instructions that double stacked shelves should be filled with only one layer of books (perhaps he’ll not notice when our bed turns into the book equivalent of the mattresses described in the Princess and the Pea.  I’m currently working on ordering books according to topic and size.  Hattie has her books in alphabetical order which is very sensible but faintly scary on account of the fact that my memory is a visual one so I can remember the size and colour of a book but very rarely its title or who wrote it which isn’t terribly helpful in a bookshop or the library- you try asking for a big book with a green cover on the Tudors and see where it gets you.

Happy New Year

DSCN0229-2Hurrah its 2017.

HWIOO and I did our festive impersonation of Lurch and Lurch A Lot.  I managed to get pneumonia in December.  The Mater asked where I’d got it from.  In all honesty I have no idea but I wish it would go away and not come back.  Meanwhile Lurch A Lot managed to wake up just before Christmas with full scale labyrinthitis.  Yes – HWIOO has been walking into walls and taking the mop bucket everywhere.  In other words we over did it in December and celebrated the twenty-fifth with a jacket potato, which was a first as was the fact it was a pyjama day and we spent most of it dozing or watching tv…which I rather enjoyed.

Thankfully I’d frozen many meals ahead for when the Madams and their parents arrived so it was just a question of removing things from the freezer and everyone who could helping in the kitchen, slumping in front of the tv and occasionally venturing out to the book shop for more reading matter.  The only thing was that they’ve all been a bit poorly as well.  The Number-One-Son-In-Law sounds as though he’s been smoking sixty woodbines a day.  He did introduce me to Jakeman’s cough sweets which are seriously good and the Littlest Madam convinced me that Calpol is the way forward.  Before she’d had it she was pale, unwell and decidedly unhappy.  About half an hour afterwards she was zipping around in fine fettle – why do they not do an adult version?  In any event, I’m surprised someone hasn’t nailed our front door shut and painted a large red cross on it.

However, we’re all on the mend now.  The mop bucket is back on its usual duties so it’s time to think of our resolutions for the year – apart from staying healthy that is…I’m thinking of getting a large plastic  germ repellent bubble though I’m not sure what I’m going to do about HWIOO.   Presumably my next post will be knee deep in keeping fit, writing best selling novels, generally being a domestic goddess and progressing to the letter H in our alphabet quest.  I shall consider it over a nice cup of tea and a spot of light crafting.  The Little Madam has requested some die-cutting today and who am I to refuse?

I hope you all have a happy and healthy 2017.


FromJane Austen, via Charles Dickens to Harry Potter in three simple steps.

bath market.jpgToday HWIOO and I took ourselves off to the bath Christmas Market.  We parked the jar and joined the unexpectedly large queue of shoppers – three double decker loads it turns out.  We stood on the stair for most of the journey.  Just before our arrival the woman next to HWIOO turned to him and said in an ‘I’m shrinking’ kind of voice.  “You’re squashing me.  You’re taking up too much space.” She looked up at him as though to infer that part of the squashing was entirely due to his height – perhaps it was a gravity, air displacement thing. Let me assure you ladies and gentleman that HWIOO was not squashing her, there was no cartoon anvil weighing her down; he’d not decided that in the absence of seats that she would make a suitable alternative.

He shuffled up a step and tried to look smaller – this was not entirely successful but what it did do was allow the woman in question to chat with her friend.  “Oh yes,” she said.  “I’ve got a chap coming in to see to my frontage.  Apparently it needs supporting.”  She then went on to advise her friend about the importance of ensuring that a strict regime for the festive season so far as family is concerned, finishing it off with, “And I don’t approve of young people,” apropos  of nothing in particular. Though she did glare at HWIOO as she said it. Allow me to assure you that Lady Catherine de Burgh is alive and well in Bath.  These days she wears a sensible mackintosh and her frontage requires support.

HWIOO, my own personal Mr Darcy, struggled with some of the ladies, Mrs Bennetts every single one of them, intent on finding a bargain.  He  was heard to mutter ‘bah humbug’ when I became excited about laser cut snow flakes but that could have been because he’d just been overwhelmed by a party that looked suspiciously like a band of WI let loose for the day.  They’d have been dangerous if they’d had a bottle of wine between them so I’m quite glad we encountered them before lunch rather than after. In the end he found a convenient wall to stand against out of the way thinking that he’d be safe whilst I investigated a stall composed entirely of felted Christmas ornaments.

Two seconds later a rather large-boned woman bounced off him, “Mind where you’re going.”

Given that he wasn’t going anywhere at the time  his response was positively chivalric.  “I’m sorry I didn’t realise I was wearing my invisibility cloak.”

Seriously though it was a lovely day and I have a lovely Lithuanian candle burner that will grace my hearth – what more could a woman want? Oh alright – but HWIOO refuses to wear a ruffled shirt and is adamant he’s not jumping in a fish pond for anyone.



There’re scales for sleep!

DSCF2106Yesterday I stacked logs in the newly built log store, didn’t get rejected by any literary agents and discovered that I have finished by Christmas shopping – which definitely fits me into the domestic goddess category albeit on a temporary basis.  Then I remembered that I hadn’t handed over the hula hoop that the Littlest Madam has specifically asked for on her Christmas list to the Pottermeister and I’m not sure when we’re seeing them again, so immediately fell off my perch of serenity.

Given that the goal is to ensure HWIOO doesn’t require afternoon naps I have been nominated to do some wider reading.  HWIOO couldn’t use a computer for a long time and he still finds that the words do dances and shimmies all of their own devising if he spends too long looking at the screen.

Turns out there’re such things as sleeping scales. Who would have known?  There’s the Chalder Fatigue Scale (CFQ) and the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS).  Don’t you just love all those acronyms.  Basically the Chalder Fatigue Scale is the questionnaire that newly diagnosed CFS patients are asked to fill in assessing their levels of tiredness in order to work out how day-to-day life is going.  Apparently the questions are benign and non threatening…you should try telling that to a man with brain fog like the fog you get when you’re actually inside a cloud. One of the questions actually is “Do you have difficulty concentrating?” There are four columns and you simply select the most appropriate from ‘Better than usual’, ‘No worse than usual’, ‘Worse than usual’ and ‘Much worse than usual’ – which is fine if you can remember what usual actually might be.  The ticks are then scored from 0-3 and mathematical alchemy is applied to determine how fatigued the respondent is.

The Epworth Sleepiness Scale is also based on a questionnaire and just like the CFQ it comes in the pack of papers that voyagers along the treacle path covered, fog filled road of CFS are required to fill in – just at the point where answering daft questions is the last thing they want to do.  So, where are we now…other than knowing what all that paperwork was for?

Well, HWIOO isn’t sleepy, he’s fatigued.  They’re not the same thing. The afternoon nap is a way of controlling feelings of exhaustion which in turn means that HWIOO is able to get on with doing every day things. It follows that if HWIOO doesn’t have an afternoon nap he will continue to feel exhausted and won’t be able to function much beyond three thirty and if he continues not napping he’ll have a relapse – we’re definitely getting better at not reaching those points.

And that’s as far as I’ve got in my reading.  The next step is to dig out the notes that HWIOO was given by his consultant and check that we’re still doing all the things we’re supposed to be doing.

Oh yes – and H is going to be holly.  It’s the right time of the year after all.

Post-exertional malaise or walking through treacle.

treacleG turned out to be for garden centre as we hunted for outdoor Christmas lights – very festive and apparently expected by half the population of the village.  You’d be surprised at the number of people who have told me over the last fortnight about how lovely the previous owners’ made their spruce tree at this time of the year.  And there is g  of our alphabet of fun things to do in one sentence.

It’s been a bit of a busy week, one way or another pacing has not occurred as it should, or rather I didn’t nag enough. And that’s a bit of a funny thing as well. The pacing is definitely a two person enterprise as I work in the role of time monitor but who want’s their partner in life constantly telling them to go and lie down or to stop doing something?   Consequentially HWIOO has a bit of delayed fatigue at the moment or as it’s called in all those professional documents “post exertional malaise” – which sounds a real barrel of laughs.

Essentially we’re at the stage in proceedings where he’s fine for longer and because he’s not getting as tired he’s overdoing it because although he knows he has to pace in order to manage the condition, the boundaries of his tiredness have shifted in a good way – just we haven’t worked out where they’re at yet.  At the start of all this any kind of exertion left HWIOO feeling like some sort of wrung out dishcloth without the next hour of so.  Now the delay has moved to forty-eight hours later and only if he hasn’t been pacing effectively.

I can pinpoint exactly where the pacing failed this week.  It was the brand new log shed. Hand built and stained to match the fence by HWIOO.  He put two coats of stain on the shed whilst pottering around in the garden in between times on Saturday and he was feeling so good he didn’t have some quiet time or go for a walk.  This was bad.  Very, very bad. He overdid it.  However, at the time he felt fine.  By Monday afternoon less so. Tuesday was a walking through treacle kind of day and generally not to be recommended. Bizarrely we should have seen it coming because there were other indicators, poor sleep being one of them swiftly followed by the inability to cope in noisy situations because of the number of distractions. Odd as it may seem when HWIOO has exerted himself beyond what he should have done he doesn’t always head into the stage where the Tiller Girls could be doing the cancan at the bottom of the bed and he’d not notice because he’s so soundly asleep.  Sometimes he goes the other way… i.e. sleeplessness. That and the sensation of being on the edge of a cold and a feeling of anxiety.  Sounds wonderful.

Also with the weather being colder and less good for cycling we’ve not done any aerobic exercise which is bad.

The switch has flipped and we thought we were doing so well and the fact is we were.  It’s all a bit trial and error.  Every time HWIOO takes a step forward it sometimes feels as if we fall backwards on the pacing . The aim is that by the end of next year HWIOO will not require regular afternoon naps – now that really would be progress.

In other news the Little Madam is going to have a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Birthday party in January- and no I won’t be turning orange and dying my hair green for the occasion although the Wonka chocolate bar production line is being instigated in between the Christmas preparations.

Talking of which tomorrow I’m getting the recipe books out.


F is for Fantastic Beasts …

Fantastic-Beasts-And-Where-to-Find-Them.jpgIt’s been a while but there’s not been a great deal of domestic goddessdom going down of late.

However, today whilst I was at work and HWIOO was trying to track down Harry Potter Christmas baubles for The Pottermeister which are being advertised on Primark’s website but which seem to be about as common as unicorns he came up with the jolly good idea that we should go and see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them once I escaped from Henry VIII and his reformation.


So that’s I came to move from The Ten Articles and heresy to nifflers and dark wizards. What more could a girl want, especially as it was in three-D.  It was great and it covered the letter F twice over (flicks and fantastic).  We were a bit concerned that the film might have been hyped but it really was classic Rowling, though I won’t be taking the Right Little Madam any time soon.  It’s not like the first Harry Potter where the darkness was firmly controlled.  Here the dark is insidious.  Even the sets are industrial and dark.  In part that may be due to the desire to evoke a period feel but equally the wizarding world is a dangerous place from the first instant Newt Scamander appears on screen.  I shan’t write more as I don’t want to spoil it but let’s just say I’m hooked.

When The Number One Son and The Pottermeister were growing up it became a Christmas tradition to go and see that year’s new Potter film.  I think we’ve got a new tradition as apparently there will be five films.  It’s all very exciting.


Oh and by the way, I wants and I needs a niffler.  Nifflers look vaguely atipodean,  in an echidna sort of way, and they love shiny objects – something which gets Newt Scamander , the hero of Fantastic Beasts, into no end of trouble and lightens the atmosphere.  Echidnas are fairly rare so I think that’s out and besides HWIOO would take a dim view so I shall have to wait for a cuddly version of the niffler to be released.