davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)

It's 5:30AM and I'm eating pizza and drinking G&T, which means my schedule is really shot again.

I'm heading up to Durham on Saturday for a fortnight, so expect postings to range from occasional to non-existent. I was out running a few pre-trip errands earlier and apparently a little bit of exercise, a little bit of sun and a beer with tea on the patio added up to fast asleep on the couch from 6PM til midnight.

I did get a smile from the GP's receptionist. "Hi, I'm here to pick up my repeat prescription -- aaaand I'll need photo-ID for that, which is in the car. Hang on, I'll be back in a minute." OTOH they're still trying to figure out their new process for controlled drugs, never mind me. I had to remind her I was supposed to sign for it.

The other reason for heading into town was to pick up a birthday card for my sister, which hopefully will get to her today as I really had left it until the last moment. I'll see her on Saturday if not. Unfortunately I also had to pick up a condolences card as I found out on Wednesday night that my close friend Angela's son has died. It wasn't unexpected, Chris was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer a bit under a year ago, and I've hardly see her since as she's been caring for him almost 24/7. This is someone I've watched grow up from age three or four and he really had turned into a decent adult who was starting to build a reputation as a stand-up musical comedian (which was a completely unexpected turnaround as at 8 his mum was lamenting to me "he's so serious, I have this nightmare where he grows up to be a Conservative MP") .  I last saw him a couple of months ago when I gave him and his dad a lift home when I bumped into them in Rochester and stayed for a cup of tea. I'm glad my last memory of him will be him poking fun at the questions and answers on Pointless, but I can't imagine what this is like for Angela. Just thinking about how she must feel is making me feel sick, and givng me a new appreciation of that line that parents aren't meant to outlive their children.
 

davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
So if you're wearing an unfastened denim jacket, turns out the bottom button is at just the right height, and just the right size, to get caught between your wheel and your pushrim, at which point you aren't going anywhere until you've managed to jiggle it loose....

And of course it happened while I was at a till. So I'd no sooner moved new toolbox onto my lap and pulled on my wheelchair gloves to move off than I had to move it back onto the counter and pull the gloves off. I thought I was going to have to slip the jacket off to get to it, but it finally came free once I could get unpadded thumbs at it.

Apart from that the classic denim jacket turns out to be exactly the right length for wheelchair wear. (Today was the first time I'd had it on, it was my brother-in-law's, but I'm not sure he's ever worn it - having someone who's a bit of a clothes horse, and the same size as you, in the family can be advantageous) .

And finally, three full months into the year, I've managed to make my regular Saturday lunch date for the first time. It's actually just me at the moment as the friend I normally would do it with is caring for a family member pretty much full time, but I was a little concerned at how difficult I was finding it to get out of the house. (Admittedly I have caught every bug going since Christmas, if not September).

I was slightly disappointed with my lunch, it was a very nice tuna nicoise salad, but when the waitress warns you the tuna will be pink, which usually means rarer than most Brits would prefer, and it turns up solidly pink, not the gorgeous semi-translucent pinky-purple I was expecting (having had it there before), then it's a bit of a let down.- 8/10 not 10/10.

I picked up the tickets for my trip up to Durham next weekend from the station, then spent an hour pootling around Homebase (big DIY/gardening store), which is where the jacket-pushrim mishap happened. I got the toolbox and roofing nails I was looking for, but I'm not paying £20 for a hammer! I'll have another look and see if I can find where mine has gotten to, it might possibly be in the shed. Nor could I find a bath plug in the appropriate size. There's a little old traditional ironmonger's in Rochester, so I'll probably be able to find what I'm looking for there.

And as if to prove it's April, I got showered on twice, though just enough to be refreshing rather than miserable.

Ah, Spring!
 

davidgillon: Text: You can take a heroic last stand against the forces of darkness. Or you can not die. It's entirely up to you" (Heroic Last Stand)

I'm currently stuck in that thing where my body keeps insisting I fall asleep on the spot. This wouldn't be so much of a problem if I was getting 8 hours as a result, but it's been more like 4 or 5, or even 1 or 2, and that's just not enough. Worse, it means I'm tired enough any activity is triggering the fall asleep on the spot thing.

It's a good thing I'm off to spend Christmas and New Year with the family on Wednesday, as that will probably break the cycle. I haven't quite decided what I'm doing about internet while I'm up in Durham, it may just be intermittent access whenever I pop over to my sister's, or if I can find my MIFI hub I may buy a SIM and hope it lasts longer than the 2 hours of the one I bought last Christmas.

On the plus side, two years ago today I was being rushed through A&E with acute pancreatitis, so at least I'm doing better than that.

I spent 5 hours running errands today, and I think my body hates me for it. It wasn't meant to be 5 hours and it started quite well, I whipped through the stuff with my banks in Chatham - there was a really helpful guy on their helpdesk who did everything for me on the spot rather than sending me off to the teller windows, which made things much simpler. OTOH the Coastguard SAR helicopter was overhead and searching the river, which was a bit grim. But then I went to Rochester and it was full. I literally could not find a space to park at lunchtime. Presumably that was down to the Christmas Market in the Castle, but I couldn't park so I never got to find out. I went off and did some grocery shopping instead - okay some booze shopping, the bar is bare - and tried again at 3:30. Even then I only just managed to find a space, but at least I managed to get my repeat prescription (the one my GP forgot to do on Tuesday) and finally picked up my train tickets for the trip to Durham. God help anyone trying to park tomorrow if it was like this today.

So I came in and fell asleep. For 6 hours.

I hit a milestone on the car while I was out - 20k miles on the clock.

Since 2001.

And no, that isn't missing a zero

One of my friends was complaining on FB this morning that they'd just had an email about a delivery that excluded any useful information whatsoever about what was being delivered and who it was from. I'd no sooner commented on that than I found a card through my door from the post office. They have a parcel for me, with inadequate postage on it (fortunately only £2), and I need to pay up to get it. Of course there's no indication whatsoever of what the parcel is and who it's from.

I suspect it's the stuff I ordered from the States. In May.

I knew I was ordering in advance, I just didn't realise how much in advance. As soon as they indicated they'd started shipping a few days ago, it's been a nightmare as to whether it would arrive before I disappear North, because I'm away for longer than the post office hold onto parcels before sending them back. The postage is already extortionate, I really don't want to have to pay it twice. Delivery on Monday, hopefully.

On a completely different topic, one of the webcomics I read stopped updating over a year ago, with no real word as to what was happening. I noticed today it had been updated, and it's the author explaining how she had a breakdown, but is now recovering. Its fascinating to see someone talking about it so openly, and in graphic format.

 

davidgillon: Text: I really don't think you should put your hand inside the manticore, you don't know where it's been. (Don't put your hand inside the manticore)

Drive over to Rochester for lunch, end up having to park so far out I was on the point of turning around and going home.
Wheel down into town, realize when most of the way there the reason it's so crowded is it's the Christmas Market.
Get to the High Street, realise it's so crowded it's hell on earth for wheelies, turn round, push back up hill to the car.
Go shopping at Asda, which is worth a post on its own
Argh! *headdesk* Argh!....

And next weekend is the Dickensian Christmas, which will be worse.

davidgillon: Illo of Oracle in her manual chair in long white dress with short red hair and glasses (wheelchair)

Distance covered yesterday, c 900m there with a descent of 24m in the first half, pretty much braking all the way - I've reached a landmark and worn my first pair of wheelchair gloves through to the gel on both thumbs. Hands were unpleasantly hot by the time I'd slowed onto the level!

c950m back with a 22m rise, 2m of which happens in about 10m on a corner. I'd have to choose a different route if I couldn't get out and push those 10m. I in 5 is not practical. But apart from that I pushed it non stop, if very slowly in places. I did have the traditional little old lady asking if I would like a push, but she did it aboot 10 feet from the crest of a slope, and there's a straight 150m with a slight descent immediately after, so of course I whipped by her as soon as I crested it.

So total distance about a nautical mile, which I think is the furthest I've pushed apart from the couple of days in Athens (and that was all downhill).

What taking the two slightly different routes confirmed is that I have substantially more difficulty on cambered pavements, and that my left arm is only capable of getting me up a kerb with difficulty. Because of a car being awkward, I ended up doing one slope on the opposite side to usual, The side I usually do it on has flat paving, the opposite side has the same slope, but is steeply cambered, it was far more difficult than it normally is (this is where I had the little old lady intervention). It's not simply a matter of me, though, the new chair isn't great at holding a line on a cambered pavement, it has a strong tendency to turn into the slope. The clown chair was  just as bad, the GPV, with cambered wheels, made it not an issue.The particular problem I have with this is it means I need to brake with the uphill arm while pushing with the downhill, and if my dud left arm is the downhill one, this is massively less than ideal.

I rang Wheelchair Services on Friday to say I definitely need a 3" cushion as discussed (and noted) at the handover, the seat to footplate gap is too short otherwise and my legs aren't flat on the cushion. I strongly suspect they measured me while I was sitting on a 3" cushion. I'm currently using the 2" they gave me, with a 1" I had in the house under it, which makes the difference between being in intolerable pain within an hour or so, and being able to sit for at least three hours.. Apparently fixing this will need one of the therapists to ring me back and discuss it. I'll raise the camber issue at the same time. I've checked the manual and the XLT can have cambered wheels, but you need an extra part in the wheel mounting to accomplish it, rather than just adding a couple of extra washers as on the GPV, so that'll probably need to be ordered in if I can get them to agree to it.
 


davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)


I've needed to get my hair cut for several weeks now, but I've been singularly ineffectual about managing it. Mostly because by the time I get myself organised to leave the house, they'll be on the point of shutting. (It's not that I'm <i>that</i> ineffective at organising myself, more that my day is shifted about 5 or 6 hours later than everyone else's at the moment)

But Friday I actually managed to get over to Rochester in just about sufficient time, only to realise I didn't have enough money on me. So I headed over to the cash machine, but first I had to deal with the ramp out of the carpark. Despite it being a council car park, this pretty definitely doesn't meet Annex M of the Building Regs, it's too steep and should have at least two landings for that rise. OTOH it's over 100m shorter than going out of the other exit. I was in the eBay chair, and it turns out it's still too tippy on slopes, especially this one. I managed to get about 90% of the way up, but my arms were giving out, and no landings, so I had to grab the handrail to hold myself in place while I got the chair's brakes on one at a time. On the plus side, it proved I set the brakes right when I reconfigured it if they can hold me on that slope. On the negative, getting the brakes off again, without careering backwards down the slope took some doing - I really needed three hands if not five (handrail, 2xbrake, 2xwheel) and I had two little old ladies asking if I needed help before I managed to get myself moving again.

But eventually I triumphed and headed off to the other end of the High Street to get some cash, and then back to the barbers, only as I arrived outside I bumped into one of my old colleagues, Jason, who I haven't seen since Evil Aerospace gave us both the push. He was also headed in for a haircut. Only one problem (well, two if you count me having to head 20m in the wrong direction to find a kerb cut), when we got inside there were three barbers, three guys getting cuts, three guys in front of us in the queue, and only 25 minutes 'til they shut. I hung around to catch up with Jason, but bailed once it was clear there was no chance of getting a cut, while he stayed on the off-chance they might fit him in.

So I headed over again today, only rather earlier, and as I drove into the car park I burst out laughing as Jason walked out in front of me. "I bailed not long after you," he admitted, and headed off barbers-ward. I followed him once I'd parked (going the long way around), and this time instead of three barbers and a queue, there were four of them, one cutting Jason, and three not doing anything. I was driving out of the carpark on my way home barely 25 minutes after arriving.

Moral of the story, don't try to get your hair cut on a Friday ;)
 


davidgillon: Dina Meyer as Oracle, sitting a manual chair in front of a clock face (Wheelchair)
So I went into town for my usual Saturday coffee - ideal timing for once, I actually got to where I normally park as my friend was walking past, and the car parked 5m away pulled out as I told her 'I'll just go find somewhere to park."

So I got the new chair out of the car, I'm going to take advantage of having it even if it is going back, and we headed into town, cutting through the little disabled car park to get to the High Street. The kerb cut in the car park, the one that flipped me out of the other chair back at the end of October, is getting worse by the day. Rather than put a proper kerb-cut in, there is a projecting vee of paving that is slightly lower. The drain at the point  of the vee (because clearly you want a drain grate right where people are going to wheel) has clearly collapsed and the road side of the ramp is slowly sinking as the ground under it is eroded away. It's now caused a paving stone on the pavement side to flip up by a good inch, making access from all sides dodgy. I need to get back there during the day and take a picture, then send it to the council, copying relevant councillors.

Next up was our normal venue, with its three steps at the entrance, I'm used to it being a nuisance and having to climb out, but with a rigid-framed chair I now need to unbolt the other side of the door, rather than just squeeze the clown chair slighty narrower. We'd picked up another friend on the way, so I did have plenty of hands to hold the doors and help me lift the chair in. So we get in, the only empty table has a reserved sign on it, and we catch the eye of one of the waitress to ask if there any free tables right at the back and around the corner.

"No," she says, "We could possibly put you upstairs," then looks at me and visibly winces at what she just said.

So turn around and unbolt the door again.

Back on the pavement, I suggest to everyone that we head across the road to the little Italian coffee shop, then realise that while I can hop down onto the road (pedestrian only on Saturday) I can't actually get up the kerb at the other side as the anti-tips won't let me wheelie high enough.

"I'll just nip back to the kerb cut further along," I say, which I'd already come down once, but then realise a) someone has put up scaffolding against a shop front between it and the Italian, b) they've taped off between the scaffolding poles to block access (in no way normal practise) c) the rest of the pavement is blocked by a bollard. *headdesk*

So it was climb out of the chair for the third time in three minutes and lift it onto the pavement.

At least we had no problems getting into the Italian, though by the time we'd spent an hour and a half nattering my hips were definitely protesting at being squeezed by the GPV's too narrow seat.

Heading back to the car I had to rely on my friends to steady me on a kerb-cut and a short steeper section of pavement, as the chair wanted to flip into a wheelie, but those are more the fault of the overly tippy chair

Despite all the hassles it was actually more confirmation that a rigid framed chair is distinctly better for me for getting around, but so many problems in such a short distance, and if I hadn't actually been able to get out and stand we would have been completely stuffed.
 

davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
I met a fellow local disability rights activist for coffee this afternoon - we've known each other on line for years, but because her job was in London until recently it's the first time we've actually met.

It was interesting, in the worst way, in terms of finding anywhere we could both go. I may be a wheelchair user nowadays, but if I run into steps I can hop out , they can't. That ruled out the place I meet friends on Saturdays, and while the place I go in the week is accessible to me in the chair, they didn't think they could get their powerchair in. Nor is the new Costa accessible - they gutted the entire place,  took floors out, but left a step at the entrance! Ultimately we ended up in the tourist info, which has a cafe at the back - ironically she then had to ask if I would be able to manage the internal slope in the building  - effectively a 50 foot ramp from front to back - to get back out again!

Cue an hour and a half of comparing notes, on activism, ridiculous disabled loos we have known, and experiences of discrimination. It shouldn't be like that, but it is. I had to give her the prize (?!)  for worst experience - I've never had a doctor look at the chair and try to decide not to treat me for something life threatening (emphasis on the try, she handed him his head).

Lovely to meet her finally, but also sobering. So much still to do.
davidgillon: Dina Meyer as Oracle, sitting a manual chair in front of a clock face (Wheelchair)
I was in town earlier, just as it got dark, picking up a repeat prescription and I wanted some cards as well. So I came out of the chemists and headed for the art shop, which meant crossing the road, but there is at least a kerb-cut half-way between the two. Only as I came in sight of it I realised there was a car parked exactly where it is. No cars parked for a hundred metres in either direction and he picked the kerb-cut to park across.When I got right up to it he was only parked across a third of it, the side-slope if you like, but the effect was me being completely masked from oncoming drivers as I tried to cross the road in the dark. (I'd already had narrow escapes from a cyclist and a car on the way to the high street). Now there wasn't actually anything coming when I crossed, but I think I can reasonably say it was a pretty irresponsible piece of parking.

It was a police car....
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)

There's another festival on in Rochester (Fuse, which is Jazz IIRC), so they were building a prefab stage in the castle moat as I wheeled past (don't worry, it's a dry moat...). When I wheeled past again on my way back to the car they were building an access ramp to get you over the kerb that separates the footpath and the moat. And I do mean building, they had a carpenter making it on the spot from rough timber (never mind that they had a perfectly finished and properly surfaced one in exactly the same spot for Dickens only a couple of weeks ago).

As I got up to it the carpenter stuck out a toe and prodded one of the planks (yes, he'd built it from planks, longways, with no reinforcement other than at either end, rather than using a sheet of board or properly reinforcing it). Plank promptly deflects downwards two inches under just tow pressure (I'm not exaggerating!). When I glanced back over my shoulder they had it turned on its side and were muttering about 'battens, maybe we could use some battens underneath'.

I did think about offering to try it out for them, but nope, not going there, because I'm pretty sure 'going there' would be 'going through'!

Where do they find these people?

davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
So into Rochester for my usual Saturday lunch date, though solo, sadly, as one of my friends is in India and the other two just got back from a six week cruise from Portsmouth to Manaus and back (yes, the Manaus in the middle of the Amazon, yes I am somewhat envious). I took the chair again, and cobbles are still the bane of my existence.

Having done it once I did manage to find a route onto that pavement with the foot-high kerb so I wasn't reduced to wheeling along the road again, however the only way to avoid the kerb involves, you guessed it, going over a set of cobbles. I'd barely gotten ten yards from the car when I had the first call of 'Do you need help?' Admittedly I had stalled, but that was purely while I got myself arranged to bump up my first kerb with a semi-wheelie (yay me!). All told I think I had 5 offers of help in the 700 metres or so to the restaurant and back, including one from the proverbial little old man who must have been in his 70s at least, headed in entirely the opposite direction, who enquired if I needed 'a push up the hill'. Wheelie friends tell me this doesn't mean I was looking particularly incapable, it's just part of life in a wheelchair - even friends with powerchairs get asked if they need a push!

I made it to the restaurant without incident, but of course the doorway is a step up, opening onto two more (and the rear entrance is worse), so it was a case of get out of the chair, semi-collapse it to fit through the door, and drag it in behind me. And of course there was someone insistant on helping, and then on letting me past him, even though I wasn't going past him, I was heading off to the side - I can see now how the proverbial VI person being dragged involuntarily across the street happens.

Back to the car was mostly a repeat, though actually wheeling along  the road of the High Street (pedestrianised Saturdays only) turns out to be a hell of a lot easier than wheeling along the footpath. And if I missed my cruising friends I did bump into their son and his family, so that's the first time meeting someone I know in the chair taken care of. I got right back to that set of cobbles near the car without running into anything I couldn't manage, including several more instances of bouncing the chair up kerbs (though the slope outside the front of the cathedral nearly killed me). And then I grounded out in a gutter (a deep, old-fashioned one with sloped sides), with the left wheel only touching in a couple of spots and insufficient traction to get out. Another shouted offer of help, but I'd gotten it myself by them, by sticking my foot down and giving myself a good heave, and that was that.

Realistically I need to change where I'm parking, but I need to renew my Blue Badge to park any closer to the high streeet (8 week delay on that, and I need to get passport style pics first), and even then parking is still a nightmare, particularly on Saturday, I think I can count the number of times I've successfully found a disabled bay on a Saturday on the fingers of two hands. Pushing is still really hard work, but showing some improvement. I think we're at the intersection of inappropriate chair, insufficient upper body strength, and inept shoulder joints. I'll figure out a plan of attack when I talk to the physio on Thursday.
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
... when the waiter stepped into the doorway and blocked the UKIP canvassers from coming inside :)

No Britain First this week thankfully, and police on the corners just in case, but the High Street is full of news crews and UKIP and Tory supporters (and one lone Lib Dem). Getting back to the car was like threading your way between Scylla and Charybdis. I want my High Street back!

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davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
David Gillon

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