Value for Money

One of my carers has asked me about two things I’ve bought lately (a stocking aid and some cloth masks) and specifically how much they’ve cost. When I’ve said “about X pounds” she’s said that’s very expensive.

I’ve been thinking about that a lot since we had those two conversations. I think she’s wrong. But only because of the bigger picture.

The mask conversation was almost irrelevant. She’s told me how much she paid and said delivery was more. I didn’t pay delivery. Hers came from somewhere abroad (I forget) and took ages to come. Mine were here in a few days, from (I think) London. She wasn’t comparing like from like, even before you get to the fact that knowing it’s difficult to make a fair amount of money as a crafter, I was prepared to pay a bit more.

The stocking aid (one specifically for taking them off) was £22.40. Although I just had to look that price up and had told my carer it was “about £20” I thought that was very fair, particularly given that as soon as you put the word “disability” on anything it goes up in price and that the market for stocking aids must be a niche market within that already niche market.

But.

I’ve spent the two and half years since I started wearing compression hating having to have the carers twice a day. Hating the time I lost and the tie of always having to be home/free/awake at those set times and feeling like who I was, Emma, was getting lost in the wash of the woman with lymphoedema who needed this doing to her. It had a real negative thing for me and was part of the reason why my mental health was in such a downward spiral when I started needing compression.

Everyone who knows me and my history and my level of mobility (and the amount of problems I had when I used to wear normal socks let along compression stockings) was sure that there wouldn’t be a way of my getting them off myself. The lymphoedema nurse thought getting the stocking over my heel was going to be an issue.

Eventually coronavirus hit and the risk of my injuring myself trying to get my own stockings off was less than the risk of having the carers here twice a day so much. Very long story short: I got one in the hope I could go to once a day calls, it worked. It took some trial and error to find the easiest way to do it and it takes ages (but I’m getting quicker!) and in two and a half months I’ve probably had support to take my stockings off less than ten times.

Starting next week I am actually going to have a carer three evenings a week because applying my cream myself is still tricky and I think it needs doing better more often than the once a week or so Dad was doing it. But I don’t currently anticipate going back to having a carer here twice a day, everyday.

Should life ever go back to normal there will be no more leaving things early to be home for the carers or planning how I will manage to get my compression off if I go here. Or not going to things because I can’t work round an evening care call. Without being able to go out I’m already eating dinner when I want, sitting outside losing track of time for hours of an evening. Once the morning carer goes, my day is completely my own. I’m thrilled with that.

My carer has looked at it and seen a simple looking thing I can use to take my stockings off. But she’s missing what my being able to take my own stockings off means to me. And £22.40 strikes me as amazing value for money for something that’s changed my life.

A Month of Reading

It’s nearly a month since I last updated on here about what I’ve been reading. And there’s a fair amount of books to share about. There’s also quite a few I have read part of but not finished which I won’t list.

On VE Day I started reading a series of books set in the Second World War. Those were Quarantine Reads 12 – 15. I read the first one cover to cover in one day and finished book 4 in the series a week later. I enjoy books set in that period as it’s one that interests me and the books tend to be quite character driven rather than gritty. So reading them felt like a good way to have a relaxing bank holiday but also mark the occasion. This time it was the Rationbook series by Jean Fullerton. The books are A Rationbook Dream, A Rationbook Christmas, A Rationbook Childhood and A Rationbook Wedding. I found the first one took my a while to get into and I had to persevere almost but I was glad I did. Once I got into it I liked it and I enjoyed the later books in the series more. I hope there will be a book 5.

Book 16 was Spitfire Girls Fly For Victory by Jenny Holmes. Not the best book I’ve read mostly because the first one in the series was better (although now I write this I wonder if the problem was that with almost a year since I read that I didn’t remember the characters that well). But I did enjoy it and I’ll definitely read book three when it comes out later in the year.

Interestingly I read the first book last August when I was housebound due to my powerchair being broken. And I read this one before I started going out for little bits (I’ve since been to the post box, the park and my parent’s garden) so I was housebound then too. I hope not to be housebound when book three comes out!

Next I read The English Agent by Claire Harvey which has been sat on my shelf for an embarrassingly long period of time since a friend passed it on to me (it was a stupid long time before lockdown but luckily she understands). I discovered part way through that this is actually book 2 featuring the main character. I don’t think not having read book 1 made any difference to my enjoyment or understanding. I wont read book 1 any time soon because there were enough snippets to have a good overview of the plot and so it would be spoiled. Which is a shame because I might have enjoyed that more.

Going back to The English Agent itself, I would say it was OK. Part of the problem with my enjoyment was probably my mood in that it was getting a little flat at that point (looking at the date of my Facebook post about the book). But the other side was definitely that it just suffered from my having read so many war books in such quick succession.

Last week I read two books, each of which I read cover to cover in one day. And in the days in between I tried to read another book which has a premise I love but I just couldn’t get into it because I had a book hangover from the first one.

That was To Be Taught If Fortunate by Becky Chambers. Back in summer 2018 I was in a huge reading slump and her (then) three books were the ones that broke it – I read them all in 9 days, making two special trips to book shops for books 2 and 3.

So I was so excited one evening last September when I spotted To Be Taught If Fortunate in Foyles on a night away. And then immediately disappointed and put it back on the shelf. when I read the back and discovered it wasn’t part of the Wayfarers Series. I would still love another Wayfarers book (and a friend tells me one is being written) but after getting it for my birthday and few months later, then leaving it on my shelf for a few months after that I picked it up and read it.

I was wrong to be disappointed by that and also by how short it is. Because when you read the book, it’s just brilliant. Really well crafted and a powerful read. It is really short, and I definitely wanted more. But that said it’s pretty much the perfect length. I think to find out what happens next would probably have ruined it, despite my curiosity.

Next I read So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter. I read another book of hers, The Cows, last year. I’d read the back and liked the idea of The Cows but been put off by her fame (I’ve read other books by famous authors that weren’t good, just clearly published because of who they were) but when it came up as 99p on Kindle gave it a shot. And loved it, read it cover to cover in one day.

So when I heard about So Lucky I was really keen to read it. And I also really wanted to read it in one day like I had The Cows (some authors are “book in a day” authors for me) so it had to wait for the right time.

So Lucky is a story female friendship and the lies we tell ourselves (and others). It was well written, really honest, punchy and slightly gritty. Not your standard chicklit as it was slightly more in depth and unpredictable. And definitely not a case of a famous person having a mediocre book published.

Finally (for now) I read The House at Silvermoor by Tracy Rees. My Mum had asked me to get her a book for her birthday back in May and I added this and one other for me to the Waterstones order. I’ve had a lot of new kindle books (either bought or via NetGalley) since lockdown but it was really nice to have a new physical book. There’s just something about the feel and the smell of a brand new book that I really love.

This was another historical fiction book set in a time and area (1899, early 1900s, Yorkshire mines) that I know little about. So I enjoyed the chance to read about that and also the dual narrative of the story. It kept me guessing throughout (I was sure I knew what was happening but didn’t) and was just another stunning read from Tracy Rees.