>A Chest of Drawers

>I seem to have gotten my fiction writing mojo back, yay! I’m very pleased :-). I’m less pleased about the fact I seem to have lost my reading mojo but, well, you can’t have it all.

Something else I’m pleased with is this piece. I started off wanting to work more on description, particularly of a setting. I’d also been thinking about an analogy I used a while ago to describe what the spasticity in my quads is like at the very worst times. This seemed to take on a life of its own as I wrote but for better or worse is the end result. It needs a better title!

Day 44 of 100 days of writing

A Chest of Drawers

Over in a dark corner of a nondescript hall there stood a set of drawers. The drawers were dusty and had a neglected air about them. That was unsurprising for as busy as that house was with people continually going in and out, here there and everywhere, it was weeks since anyone had ventured into that corner.

The drawers weren’t particularly special – cane drawers that appeared woven. Darker than the word cane would lead you to believe with a black metal frame. The unit is tall, reaching almost to the ceiling, with the option to add an extension on to give more storage. Nobody knows who bought the set, as far as anyone can remember its always been there. But whoever they were they must have been optimistic on the day they bought it as the extension found its way into their trolley. Half hidden in pieces underneath the unit it lies, never to be used.

The drawers themselves are very deep. It’s difficult to see everything they contain without taking them out completely. And once you done that, finding what you wanted and several other lost things if you’re lucky, it’s even more difficult to put the drawer back in place. It’s not unusual for there to be a gap in the unit for months, waiting for someone with the patience to make the multiple attempts needed to get it back in place.

Nothing special was kept in these drawers. They held the things people had forgotten about. Broken things they claimed they’d fix “soon” but never would. The “it might come in useful someday” items and those in the “it was too good an offer to pass up, I’m sure I’ll find a use” category. Unloved, unwanted and unnecessary things.

Most of the drawers were unique in contents. Continue a mix of things you’d be unlikely to find in any other house across the land.

Except one.

The one that had pride of place. Place most often being the floor.

This was the drawer that appears in some way, shape or form in every house. It’s the mess of wires. Old phone chargers, one for a camera and an unidentifiable USB cable. A laptop charger or two and – wait a minute – is that the electric hook up from that caravan we got rid of ten years ago? Controllers from a games console believed long gone and some headphones (broken of course) complete the mess.

It’s impossible to count just how many leads are in that drawer. A veritable haven for old cables keeping them safe from the dreaded landfill. And a walk through the history of electrical goods for anyone taking the time to look through it properly. Which no one ever did, instead just tearing through it quickly looking for whatever needed before giving up in frustration.

The wires and cables have become a living, growing being you see. All wrapped round each other and tangled together. The older ones watching over the new and those that still worked guarding the fragile and broken ones.

If someone hunting through the drawer grabbed something and pulled hoping to find a way of unravelling the tangle they’d find it impossible. Pulling just caused them to tighten up even more and made more of a mess. Finding an actual end was a bit of a mission within itself. And even if a searcher did find an end it rarely did any good.

everyone who searched would end up frustrated and empty handed. This was a drawer who meant business. The cables, leads and wires were a family. And they were happy where they were. In a dusty chest of drawers in a neglected corner of an otherwise busy house.

They remained in that drawer for over forty years periodically welcoming new members. No one could ever separate them,

♥ Emma

>The Man With The Needles

>I’m going to see my neurologist tomorrow in spasticity clinic. Hopefully this will be a joint appt with my physio (it’s meant to be but the track record on that isn’t good) to discuss whether I need more Botox. And for me to have the jabs if so. I suspect that will be the case. I also wonder if my baclofen will be upped.

I described that to a friend as “going to see the man with the needles” last week and thought that was an intriguing idea for writing.

Today is day 35 of 100 which feels like a huge number of days achieved. Especially as I almost forgot to write at all.

The Man With The Needles

“I’ve got to go and see the man with the needles tomorrow”

“you’ve got to go and see who?”

“the man with the needles.”

“oh… Ok and who is he when he’s at home?”

“I told you. He’s a man. With needles.”

“Right. That’s cleared things up.”

“I think he specialises in needles you see.”

“Does he not have a name?”

“He does”

“Which is?” You might be out there but I doubt even you call him The Man With The Needles to his face.”

“It’s… It’s… Oh god what is it?! I know this, I know I do.”

“You’ve forgotten, haven’t you?”

“No… Give me a minute, it’ll come.”

“Told you your nickname habit would get you in trouble someday.”

“Oh Jesus this is pathetic, even for me.”

“Whatcha gonna do? Walk in there and ask for The Man With The Needles, hope they know who you mean?”

“I might have to. Oh god this is going to be embarrassing.”

“it is. Bet they laugh. I would.”

“yeah, thanks for that.”

“So anyway, what does he do with these needles this specialist guy? Its gotta be something skilled to hear you talk so what is it? Tattoos, piercing, fillers, Botox?”

“He sells them”

“He sells them?”

“Yup he sells sewing needles.”

♥ Emma

>Details on my new seating

>Two weeks ago I went to Wheelchair Services for a new assessment. Two very productive hours later I left with a completely pimped chair and all new seating.

And it was so easy.  I didn’t have to fight for anything and didn’t need to argue my case at all – the therapist simply saw me and talked to me and made suggestions.  That was so different to my last assessment where I thought I was constantly having to push for things (and where I didn’t get what I needed looking back).  I’d actually made my Dad take the afternoon off work to take me so I had back up – and had given him strict instructions as to what we needed to get a definite answer to etc etc.  Turns out I could have gone by myself.  But it was absolutely lovely to get there just the right amount of early and to leave as soon as the appointment was over – and that the only stops on the way home were the ones we wanted to make.  I’m very grateful for hospital transport but it does make for a very long faffy day usually!

The first thing she did was give me a new wheelchair cushion.  It’s a jay2 and she added an insert to the left side to level out my hips (my left hip was previously lower than the right). This led to the discovery that the curve in my spine is high up and with level hips, my shoulders aren’t level.  Nothing can be done about that.  She also added a pommel to the front of the cushion to help me keep my legs/knees apart.

The cushion is so high that I then needed my footplates raising.  And if I’m honest in the past two weeks I’ve found they weren’t raised high enough – must get my dad to shove them up a bit more.  I know how to do it but I need to be sat in the chair to make it work and that’s not going to happen if I try!

The frame of my chair needed to be dropped lower on the wheels (or the wheels were changed to a higher position on the chair, more likely). That was to make it easier for me to reach the wheels and push myself.  With the new cushion I felt like I could reach but it wasn’t as easy – I had to reach down rather than putting my hands there and they were in exactly the right place.  It then became obvious that my casters needed repositioning as moving the wheels had left me with a very bucketed seat which isn’t right for me.  We won’t talk about the amount of yarn and other crap she pulled out of the workings when she took them off to move them.  I knew there was a load there but I hadn’t realised it was that much.  Cue the OT commenting that that might be why it wasn’t very manueverable. In an amused kinda way.

In terms of the backrest of my chair (I already had a jay3 backrest) laterals were added.  I pretty much knew that I needed laterals but had anticipated that this would be where the problem and the needing to fight would be.  This was due to the fact that all the physios I saw over the summer (and the fact that serial casting requires two people meant there were a lot) tended to follow up remarks about the lack of support my chair gave me with a comment as to my lack of arm rests.  But as I finally pointed out to them, arm rests do not give support on your sides and as that was what they were talking about my lack of arm rests was irrelevant.  The physio in question agreed with me about that but it had made me apprehensive about the discussion when I got to wheelchair services.  I need not have been because there was never any question of my not having laterals and arm rests didn’t get mentioned at all.

The laterals in question are swing away ones.  They have a catch to move them out of the way as needed.  I’ve also found that they move if I deliberately lean to one side (to reach something) although not as easily.  I’m not sure if that’s meant to be the case with swing away laterals or not.  It’s a little annoying if I’m honest but I could see it as something that’s meant to happen.  Possibly to stop people hurting themselves but also as a memory prompt – if it moves when I’m not deliberately reaching over then I realise that I’m tipping to one side (the left almost always) and can right myself.  I like them, they help a lot and they are really inobtrusive, hardly noticable at all.

The final thing that was done to my chair (for now) was the addition of a spine align kit.  This amuses me because it sounds all high tech and complicated and like some sort of painful metal frame.  But it’s two foam wedges with velcro on them placed between the plastic shell of the backrest and it’s cushion.  These help the cushion mold to the shape of my back more and make it more comfortable.

In a few weeks I will be getting something fitted to my footplates which might stop my legs going into extension when I wheel.  I’ll believe that when I see it (it working I mean) but I’m willing to try it.  I think they’re called Skate Shoes but googling can’t find them.  It’s something shoes anyway.  They are screwed on top of footplates and you put your foot/shoe in them and they’re shoe shaped.  Usually people have them to stop their feet slipping backwards off of the footplate.  I’m having a cut down version (hence the delay) put on the wrong way round in an attempt to stop my legs going forwards.  I very briefly tried a calf strap but as I told the OT it hadn’t in the past it didn’t work. (she believed me but had asked me to try it so she could see what happens)

The fact that these are called something shoes was a cause of (slight) amusement as we were leaving the hospital when my Dad said he didn’t think it would work as I have enough trouble putting shoes on and wouldn’t be able to put these things on too.

At the moment I’m not getting a new chair but there is a brief possibility I might find I need one.  The one that was discussed very briefly was XLT by Invacare which is a rigid chair and looks great.  Altering my seating and giving me a new chair at the same time wasn’t thought to be a good idea as it would make troubleshooting any problems doubly complicated.  As much as I would like a new chair… I’m thinking it probably won’t prove to be necessary. Sadly.

I’m loving my new seating but still getting used to it really.  I did find the fact that the chair I have (an Invacare Action 3) retails for £495 and the seating I have (a jay2 cushion and a jay3 backrest with laterals) retails for over £800 a little hard to get my head around but there you have it.

>Don’t Look Back In Anger

>I went for my wheelchair assessment on Wednesday.  And it went really well.  The details and all that are for another entry as I’d like for that to be a positive entry. For now lets just say that I’m trialling a new seating configuration and the question of whether I need a new chair as well is on the backburner at present.  So far I like my new seating but I think there maybe a few niggles which need ironing out in the long run.

The thing is though I can’t help feeling a little frustrated and even angry.  I was assessed there in 2009 and I told them certain problems I am having.  Problems which the new seating I’ve just received is hoped will help with.  In 2009 however I had to really fight and justify to get what I did.  And then on the day I went for it to be fitted the therapist commented that I was tipping to one side and not sat even (which was something I had told them about before that).  The response was to get me standing and rearranged and then sit me down again.  I was told I’d need to be care to make sure I did that when I got in the chair and sent on my merry way.

The thing is though I do so many transfers in a day (I tried to count one day but couldn’t keep track) that I can’t always remember to do that.  And if I’m tired or ill it goes out the window.  Plus even within my chair I can’t keep my body in that correct position.

When I went to see my physio for the first time in July she commented on my position within my chair and said it was the cause of a lot of my back pain.  Something she asked me was why I’d not gone back to wheelchair services to tell them and ask for help.  The consultant in spasticity clinic commented on the same thing.  I gave them both the same answer – I hadn’t seen any need or point in it as it had been like that from the day I’d got it.

I’m hopeful that the problems I’m having can be resolved for the most part and I’m very pleased with recent events.  But part of me is looking at how things have been handled now and comparing them with what happened before.  And feeling a little bit angry and frustrated about it and about two years of pain etc.

There is little point to it I know and I’m trying to keep the Oasis lyric in mind and let it go.  It’s just not as easy as I’d like.  I have a friend who tells me he doesn’t let things bother him and just gets on with them.  I wish I could do that or that I could learn too.  But he can’t explain how he does it, he just does.  And actually I think sometimes you’ve gotta take the bad with the good.

Don’t look back in anger,
I heard you say
At least not today

>Interesting Times

>Lately I feel like I live in Interesting Times as in the Chinese saying.  It’s certainly been an interesting week.

Monday my powerchair broke down with no warning. In the middle of Sainsbury’s car park. In the drizzle. Although luckily it wasn’t raining as such at that point in time. I tried to talk a Sainsbury’s employee through putting my chair into freewheel but he couldn’t do it (whether my instructions weren’t right/clear enough or he didn’t force it hard enough I don’t know) so my plan of getting a taxi back here fell through.

I called my parents house on the off chance someone was there not expecting there to be. But my sister had had an accident and been in minor injuries with my mum for a few hours. They’d just got back. I also managed to get hold of a local wheelchair engineer and he came for my chair and mum came for me.  It did make me smile to see his van turn in one direction towards me and mum’s car turn in the opposite direction towards me at the same time.  Talk about the arrival of the cavalry!

My chair has since been fixed, costing much less than I expected and came home yesterday so that’s good. I don’t think there’s much left that could need replacing that hasn’t already been done at least once.  It reminds me of that episode of Only Fools and Horses where Trigger gets rewarded for having the same broom for some huge number of years but then adds “I’ve had 6 new heads and 7 new handles but still it’s not bad for the same broom” or some such. Only I don’t think my chair is quite that bad…

Thursday I felt lousy on and off all day. To such an extent that the ambulance crew who took me to my appt in spasticity clinic presented me with a just in case sick bowl (I had told them I didn’t feel properly sick but they insisted) and tissues. Late night, early morning and lots of stress me thinks. My alarm didn’t go off. On the plus side having said they were taking another patient to the JR first they then took me to OCE first instead. Win.

I was just about an hour early and wanted to go over to the main building in search of proper food.  The receptionist said “no please stay in the building he’s running to time and you might go in early”. And I then went in just over an hour LATE. (which he didn’t even realise. his nurse apologised to me and he went “oh are we very late?”) I chatted a bit to another lady in the waiting room and her carer (that started because I asked about the over the knee stripy socks she was wearing – v.cool) and did a load of writing on my iPad.

The consultant said that some patients only need one dose of botox and then casting. I’ve had a very good response and my ankles are improved. He went on to say with some patients he thinks definitely repeat the botox and others he thinks definitely not. And me being me I fall slap bang in the middle.  We had some discussion about that.

End result being that he wants me to go back “in a couple of weeks” to see him and my physio in a joint appt as she knows me better. If I feel I’m getting worse in the meantime I can ring his secretary and should be able to go back within a week or so for more jabs. I don’t have a date to go back but when I said “are we talking before or after Christmas?” he said almost definitely before.

Oh and one of his comments was about it being a bit of a schlep from where I live to his clinic every 3 – 4 months if they keep giving me the jabs. This amused me because it really isn’t but going back in two or so weeks really is. Not least because this clinic is meant to be a joint clinic with the physios – alternating between my physio and a specific colleague of hers.  I did see the colleague floating around but not to speak to and she wasn’t in the room during my appt.

I have however been using the term schlep ever since. I find I like it.

Good news to end on:

I have most of the paralympic tickets I applied for but not all. And (this is the best bit!) I have tickets to both the opening and closing ceremonies!!!

One of my besties who just lives about ten mins drive from me also has tickets to the closing ceremonies. Also a wheelchair space. And also in the same category as I have. Hows that for a coincidence?!