9 March 2012

A Change of Plans

My last bike ride was 8 days ago. It seems like a lifetime ago but in may ways it was because of Aiden’s life changing accident. I shall still continue to cycle for I adore this new activity with a passion but alas the charity rides will have to go by the wayside for now. This saddens me immensely.

I have no doubt that I could do the Mac-Ride without too many problems. The Aberdovey Ride organised by Officers of West Midlands Police was always going to be the tougher proposition but both were to be undertaken with Aiden, my inspiration and my mentor as well as my soul mate and partner. There is no way that I could do either without him at my side. This may seem a little unlike me to those who know me well and know how independent I have been throughout my life. I’ve never been daunted by doing something on my own but going on a holiday alone or walking alone are completely different propositions to cycling 100 miles twice on my own. This is particularly so as although I would be surrounded by many others, I would be alone in the crowd and that is a daunting prospect for this elderly woman.

The plan was that we did these rides together and the sad fact is I cannot do either of them without him.

Many lovely and beautiful people have already sponsored me and for that I thank every single person from the bottom of my heart. I cannot unfortunately refund you from Just Giving but what I hope to do is persuade MacMillan to allocate what has already been given to another shorter ride later this year that I can do on my own and want to do on my own. To contact them is on my to do list but as you can imagine at present that list is a mile long but I will get around to it.

I still aim to cycle regularly and I hope that one day Aiden will feel able to get back on his bike, if that is indeed physically possible because it is not a given and once again we can enjoy cycling together.

Tomorrow I shall be leaving Aiden in the safe care of my daughter (and son!) whilst I whisk off for a couple of hours because I noticed yesterday that in the week I hadn’t been cycling spring has arrived. There are trees in blossom and daffodils in bloom and I need to get out there, smell the air, sniff the spring and enjoy the beauty of nature that is free to all to appreciate. I shall even dismount and sniff the flowers and give thanks for the blessings I have. To be honest I need a little time on my own allowing my mind to wander and be free. Many lovely people have told me that at this stressful time I must find time for myself and so I shall take their advice in the morning, ignore the growing mountain of paperwork, ironing and housework, oh and real work too, get on my bike and feel the wind on my cheeks and for a little while shelve the hell of the last week and recoup my zen.

6 March 2012

The Child Within

I should be in bed having been up since 5 am this morning but my brain is so wired I thought that maybe getting a few thoughts down on screen might help me try and put my mind into some sort of order. Having said that there are many who have known me for more years than they will ever care to admit to, that would say that if my mind was ever ordered then the world would have ended. I'll just ramble like I normally do then.

Just under 6 years ago I blogged about the fact that nothing prepares you for the sight of your own Mother on life support in ICT. She had gone into hospital for a routine hernia operation and someone fouled up whilst intubating her causing a massive and uncontrolled haemorrhage in her throat. 5 years after that event I still wasn't prepared to see her in ICT once again, especially as later that evening she died. Take these events and my own numerous hospital adventures and I was still unprepared for what hit me this evening.

My dear man went down to surgery at 1.50 this afternoon. By 4.30 we had to leave to travel over to West Bromwich for visiting and I was told by the Sister over the phone that they expected him back within the half hour. You can therefore imagine my utter devastation when 2 hours later I approached his bay and found it totally empty. Seems that no matter how many times life throws an unpleasant medical type surprise at me I'm left reeling and it wasn't just because of the close proximity to the Hawthorns either, although I had ten minutes earlier felt a bar coded shadow fall over me.

There had been complications hence the length of time in the theatre. Now there's a funny thing to call it, a theatre. I suppose it was because when surgery was in its infancy there were viewing galleries but that was a long time ago. I associate theatre with a good night out not a place where your life or that of someone you love is firmly in the hands of someone you don't know but inherently trust to do a damn good job. About 20 minutes later he was brought back and after he was settled we were allowed to see him. My poor daughter; I said to her I wish that she hadn't come with me because to bear witness to someone in so much pain is rather too much for a 12 year old to handle but bless her heart, she replied that although it had been traumatic she had needed and wanted to see this beloved man who means so much to us.

A little over a week ago Aiden blogged about how difficult it had been to witness my pain when I had a wisdom tooth extracted. I must admit that an hour having your jaw clamped open and constant pressure applied for extraction is rather painful. Now I know exactly how he felt because it was heart and gut wrenching this evening to see him suffer so very badly and to be impotent.

I consider myself extremely fortunate to have found a relationship with an utterly wonderful man when I am so long in the tooth....or even long in the toothless if these pesky abscesses keep plaguing me but it doesn't matter how old you are or how much life experience you have, when presented with something you can do nothing about, the child within resurfaces.

There is much about recent events that I wish to return to not least my opinion that West Midlands Police need to review on a very serious level their policy on attending accidents when a cyclist is involved. It stands to reason that if a car and a cycle have a collision, the cyclist is not going to be the winner. I am happy that West Midlands Police are now investigating the accident that was not attended and thank Brownhills Bob for what he has called interference and I call a blessing because without him ACC Marcus Beale would not have got involved and I thank him too. So I will be returning to that subject.

It gives me great pleasure also to report that the Staff on Lyndon 3 at Sandwell General Hospital are a a breath of fresh air; caring, compassionate and efficient. What a difference that makes.

2 March 2012


We seem to do trauma on a fairly regular basis in this household and yesterday was another one of those days. This isn't a diary entry as such but a collection of observations from an eventful evening.

I've never had to endure the delights of City Hospital in Birmingham before although it was known to me basically because the former workhouse building turned hospital was the place one of my Great Grandmothers died a very premature death. My entry to A&E after an expensive but necessary taxi journey was to witness two women, one middle aged, the other barely out of her teens arguing, older woman calling younger a 'motherf****r' and the younger retaliating by informing older of her husbands paedophilia and child abuse tendencies. The half full waiting room appeared to be enjoying the drama unfolding in front of them and if they could have drawn up their screwed down seats for a closer view I'm sure they would have.

Waiting has never been something I have endured gladly. It's a necessary evil in life but those 15 minutes I waited whilst 'the system is down' seemed like an eternity due to my desperation to gain access to the inner kingdom of A&E. So began my five hour marathon endurance test which was nothing to the suffering endured by my poor man.

Let's be positive first. The two Doctors encountered, one an A&E Consultant and the other a Junior Doctor on his orthopaedics rotation were excellent. Mr Consultant deemed it necessary to chase up the nursing staff on several occasions on what was a pretty quiet night in there if the number of empty cubicles was anything to go by. Mr Junior happened upon us when plastering was about to start, realised that something was amiss in the way things were being done, he left (I later discovered to read the notes and ascertain what was supposed to be happening) and then returned a few minutes later to take over the process. Later, on the ward Mr Junior was once again thorough, reassuring, courteous, considerate and quite happy to give his time, as was the health care assistant.

After being there for an hour and a half and female Sister nominally (use of word nominally deliberate there) in charge of care barely managing to provide pain relief let alone all the other things that Mr Consultant had ordered and even in that short time had started chasing up, I needed to go outside to make a few calls and being honest, a much needed smoke. One step out of the exit and 'have you got a spare fag love?' , three steps out 'have you got 25p for a cup of tea love?' which prompted the thought that I must investigate where it is that one can purchase such cheap beverages, five steps 'can I borrow your lighter love?'. I declined the first two requests and then stood slack jawed as I handed over my lighter to watch it being used to light a decent five skin reefer, right in front of the security cameras and two police officers standing a few yards away.

Back indoors nursing care improved a little by way of a young male nurse but female Sister was still busy moaning about Mr Consultant chasing her up for her lack of attendance and care. She quite clearly wasn't interested in doing what had been asked of her and her persistence in not providing basic care was astonishing in its intensity and deliberateness. Young male nurse advised me that going outside in the evening was a not a wise idea due to the local wildlife quote 'you've seen what goes on in here' and he also advised me that under no circumstances should I wait anywhere but inside for my taxi when I was leaving. He was right though I did see what goes on in there and I bore witness throughout the evening to arguments, bad attitudes, lack of respect to either the law or humanity and general all around nastiness. What a sad reflection of what life must be like for those that work there and perhaps in a way an explanation for what can only be described as a cynical 'don't care' attitude towards patients by the majority of nursing staff encountered.

Five hours after my man's entrance to A&E tracks were finally made to the Surgical Assessment Unit for admission. It would have been nice to observe a different standard and attitude towards nursing duties but alas niceness wasn't in the line of duty.

My taxi driver home was lovely. Five children to look after, he clearly worked hard and long hours but was a cheery soul who demonstrated real compassion to a very tired and stressed out woman and for that I am grateful. When you see the worst aspects of humanity all thrown together in one evening, it's always good to be shown that there are people out there who have not grown so cynical with life as to be uncaring and unkind. I am reminded of one of the strands in my life that I always try and act by; treat others as you would want to be treated....otherwise that bad karma will one day come up and bite you on the bum.

Oh and if you are ever unfortunate enough to suffer an accident in Birmingham may I suggest that you offer bribes to the ambulance service in order to get them to take you anywhere but Birmingham City Hospital. The Manor in Walsall is a paradise in comparison and I never thought I would hear myself say that!

1 March 2012

Links to the Past

Having undergone what was for me the most traumatic dental surgery imaginable, it did after all take the dentist a whole hour to remove one solitary wisdom tooth and still feeling the after effects along with the abscess that necessitated the surgery continuing in full on action meaning yet more antibiotics, I decided a ride out on such a glorious day might just lift my spirits. After tootling along the canal to Rushall and then up through Pelsall and Brownhills returning along the canal to Dumblederry Lane in Aldridge I decided to pay a visit to Linley Woods and also to the site of Redhouse School.

Brownhills Bob posted recently about the sale of Linley Woods prompting many memories from childhood to resurface. The woods have always held a fascination for the children of Aldridge and in particular those that lived on the Redhouse. They were forbidden to me but that didn't stop me from going down there when I could; the thrill of the forbidden and perhaps someone reporting my presence there to my parents always made such visits delicious.

Access proved a little difficult due to the what even at this time of the year was dense growth.

However as can be seen from the following photograph it seems that the woods are still well used.

The dips appear just as terrifying as when I was a child and I was tempted to give them a bash on my bike. Maybe another day when I have someone with me to call 999 should an ambulance be required!

I then took the short ride down to where Redhouse School, subject of a recent blog, once stood.

The forbidding gates say it all really but you can still glimpse the school sign just behind them along with a Walsall Council sign warning me of the dire consequences of trespassing. This I ignored as there was a sizeable gap just by the gates that I could squeeze through and I did. I was there not to cause damage or any distress to local residents but to take a few photographs of what is left. There is very little left apart from rubble but it is amazing to see how nature is reclaiming the site at present although I wondered how long for because surely such a prime piece of land will inevitably and despite the protestations of local residents, eventually be redeveloped for housing stock.

Do you remember 'Plant a Tree in 73'? I do because apart from being an avid Blue Peter viewer back then, we planted four at Redhouse. There were four houses, Barnardo, Scott, Elgar and the best house of all because I was a member, Nightingale. Each house had its own tree and I was devastated to be ill on planting day because I had been given the honour of doing a little spade work for Nightingale and so I missed my opportunity of immortality! These are the four trees today, standing testament to a more hopeful future than the one that the school actually encountered. The silver birch was the tree that belonged to Nightingale.

Somewhere underneath those trees is a time capsule or at least there was. Perhaps someone read the school log book before it was closed and discovered this treasure for the future and perhaps it was disinterred. Perhaps not. If the capsule is still there it would be nice if some of us that were there back in 1973 be allowed to rediscover our past.

My final picture was taken roughly from where the old Class 1 stood and looks over what would have been the school hall, classes 3,4,5 and 6 towards the school field. I hadn't realised until today quite how much of the old school field had been sold to the developers for housing when the old Infants School was demolished. It was a massive chunk, virtually all of the space where the football pitch, scene of many famous victories over Leighswood, Cooper and Jordan, St Mary's and all those really far away schools from foreign parts such as Walsall Wood and Brownhills, stood.

I didn't see any ghosts today but I did experience an immense sense of sadness due to the silence. This site was once such a vibrant and noisy scene, filled with children learning and playing and fighting and just being children. Now it is eerily quiet during the middle of the day.