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Where am I

I managed to slip over on 6-November-2015 and fracture the femoral head of my right hip. This blog is just to keep friends and relatives up-to-date with my recovery. It also will show where the NHS is good and where there is opportunity to improve. If you click the images tab (above) there are a few images of the break before and after the repair.

Update 10-June-2016 - sadly the femoral head has avascular necrosis and a total hip replacement will be carried out on 15-June-2016

I am home in Stoke Bruerne

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Day 56 (8)

Slightly more mobile again today - I can even get across the kitchen without a crutch and without any pain. I often watch 24 Hours in A&E and it always starts with the comment that no one wakes up expecting to be in A&E that day - how right they are and no one expects to spend 48 days away from home and all that includes!  It's been quite an eye opener.

It is lovely looking out of my front window to see a number of historic boats arriving in Stoke Bruerne for New Year - I can see Star, Aquilla, Sculptor, Laurel, Moon and I am sure there are more out of sight; there are also the more modern replica boats including Oberon. Stoke Bruerne as it should be - I do hope it gives my friend David Blagrove, looking out of his kitchen window, as much pleasure as it gives me.

I wonder what 2016 will bring - not visits to A&E for me I hope.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Day 55 (7)

My mobility seemed to get a lot better yesterday for some reason.  I can now scoot around with one crutch but prefer two when going outside although I did venture 50m along the towpath on one yesterday. Still slow in the mornings - get a bit stiff overnight - and am a bit slow in the evenings probably because I get quite tired and don't have a lot of stamina at the moment.

I have enjoyed a lovely time with Jo this morning.  Jo looks after the two holiday lets next door to me and has kindly agreed to help me keep the house in good order.  She will fit me in around her current work which is just fine with me so that's another issue resolved.

Well it has been a day of, I think, great progress.  I have managed to vacuum my bedroom, the three flights of stairs and the spare bedroom.  Albeit what usually takes me 25 mins took about four hours with breaks to regain my composure but it is another milestone.  I'll leave the next vacuuming to Jo; she's kindly agreed to change the sheets on my bed (something that made me feel weak at the knees) and do the bathroom.  Bless her.

Tomorrow will be the last of the daily updates I think,  I'll move to weekly updates as I think things are progressing so well - pride comes before a fall so I'll have to be careful on the stairs.  My neighbours Mel and James remonstrated with me this afternoon to be careful!

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Day 54 (6)

It doesn't seem possible but it will be one week tomorrow since I came home. Where does the time go to?  I feel I am not making progress as quickly as I would expect but people who are kind enough to visit do say that they see lots of improvement in my mobility - I do hope that's true.

I enjoyed a lovely day yesterday with my friend Emma (who works for Canal & River Trust) and her daughter Megan; one of the things I think is important in my (holistic) recovery is getting out and about and not looking at the same four walls all day. A lady called Jo is coming to see me tomorrow to talk about helping me keep the house in some semblance of order whilst I regain full mobility; the most trying thing for me at the moment are the stairs - I am sure I am going to have a crash sooner or later - I have had a couple of minor ones so far and I know that it is lack of concentration and trying to do things to quickly that is the underlying cause - so I'll need to concentrate more and go slowly I think.

Managed to go for a little walk this afternoon, another milestone however small the walk was.  I'll update this blog (still no better name for it) daily until 31-December and then perhaps just roll up the events of the week into one.

Monday, 28 December 2015

Day 53 (5)

I had a wee think in the midnight watches about something I had noticed when coming back from the Boat Inn yesterday and confirmed when I went to bed and again this morning.  I am at the moment  the only person in all of the four cottages.  That's not unusual in itself being that No3 and No4 are holiday lets and probably less unusual over Christmas / New Year.  I then thought what would I do if, perish the thought, I managed to fall over or if something did go wrong with the hip repair.  It's amazing how the mind wanders around during the night!

I have come up with a list of things I think I should have been provided information about; I would be interested if anyone reading this would care to comment - I was allowed to go home under what I believe is a 'Discharge to Assessment':
  • I was advised I should not contact my GP - no reason was given - I wonder why this is? Am I, I wonder, still in the care of NGH?
  • I have no contact details for anyone should anything not go according to plan to the extent that I need help, other than an emergency doctor (who of course will have no knowledge of my broken hip) or perhaps 999 - I am painfully aware of the work load that the NHS is subject to at the moment and especially over Christmas / New Year. 
  • I have no medication of any kind - I don't expect to need painkillers but the Vitamin D supplement, is I believe, important. I have actually bought my own now.
  • I have not been advised that anyone will call (phone or visit) to see if I am coping with being at home. I would have thought that would have been organised before I was allowed home. I would also have thought it critical to my continued recovery that my progress was monitored in a formal way. Too much to expect?
  • I have no paperwork of any kind which explains Discharge to Assessment - I feel I ought to have had Discharge to Assessment explained to me.
In reality what happened was that I waited in my room and just after 13:00 I was told the car was waiting and to 'get my skates on'; no one came to see me during the morning.  I was desperately keen to get home so grabbed the opportunity.  Things are going very well and I am becoming more mobile but I would hate to find that I may have been doing things that are not conducive to my long term fully recovery.

A lovely lunch and afternoon with my friend Emma in Brackley today - thank you so much Em.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Day 52 (4)

A lovely evening last night with Sam and Lynda in the Spice of Bruerne before they go off to Spain for their annual 3 months living in the warmth!

Again a much better night last night with a bit more sleeping on my right hand side but some very strange dreams!  A miserable day looking outside - constant rain and grey overcast.

My mobility is getting better but not as fast as I would like but I suppose I have to accept what is given - I can get around quite well with one crutch in my left had - I can't quite seem to cope with no crutches at all yet.

Off to Sunday lunch in Woodwards restaurant with friends today - I think I may be eating too much!

A lovely lunch in Woodwards - they a really do produce very good food - and I had a ride on a stair lift.  Now quietly home and chilling out.  The friends with whom I went to Woodwards did say that my mobility had vastly improved so maybe it is just that I see it every day that gives me the impression I am not progressing as fast as I think I ought to be.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Day 51 (3)

Not quite such a good night but still much better than any whilst I was in hospital. Too much wine with Rob and Helen and Mother Nature knocking on the door a couple of times during the night!

Whilst I was with my friends Rob and Helen yesterday my friend Steve called me on FaceTime (an iPhone application) - it was so good to see him, his wife Edite and daughter Jolanta but what really floored me was to see Terance and Elise Kennedy.  Terence wrote a book (A Nonsense of Direction - Overland to Everywhere in a Toytown Plastic car) about their adventures in a 2CV Méhari driving in all sorts of places around the world - I haven't seen Terence and Elise for such a long time and what a treat it was to make contact again - I now have their contact details so I shall be in touch. I have a copy of Terence's book which I treasure.

I last had contact with Terence and Elise when they were living in what Terence called a 'Dorpie' (Africaans for a small town but I think it has more of a connotation than that!) called Rustenberg just outside Johannesburg.

A quiet day followed by a most entertaining evening with Lynda and Sam in the Spice of Bruerne and then to bed quite exhausted.  My stamina is not what it was!

Friday, 25 December 2015

Day 50 (2)

A very happy Chritstmas to anyone reading this blog - there must be a better sounding word than blog!

A lovely day yesterday with so many visitors which lead to me sleeping like a log last night; I even had to refuse Lynda's kind invitation to sing carols at the Boat Inn at 22:00 because I was sure I couldn't keep awake long enough! It is just great to be home and to be able to do all the things I want to when I want - a bit selfish but when one has enjoyed (endured perhaps) the needs of an institution it is such a relief to be back in charge!

Another fractional bit of progress last night was that I could, for a short period of time, sleep on my side, even on my right side, which I find much more comfortable (foetal position I suppose) without too much discomfort. I can't do it for too long but any little bit of progress is good.

I am off to see my friends Helen and Rob in Yardley Gobion today (Yardley is a place I always remember because the Grand Union canal passes through to the east of Yardley village and there is a sign on the wharf which says 'Please don't let your dog pump out here' - that always brought a smile to my face).

I received a lovely e-mail from my friend Fred last night - haven't seen Fred for some time but he lives only a short distance down the road in Amersham so I hope he will accept my invitation to come and see my 'gaff' as he calls it, soon after Christmas, when we can go to the Boat Inn or the Navigation and have a good old chat and a meal.  Fred - if you are reading this please do come.

A loverly day with my good friends Helen an Rob today - thank you both so much for thinking of me.and making the day so special.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Day 49 (1)

It may be Day 49 of the broken hip but it is also Day 1 of being at home.  It's more difficult than I thought it would be but each day I think it will become easier.  The stairs are challenging and carrying something up and down quite a PITA as I need both hands for myself (well at least I have both hands!) Lynda kindly went out and bought me some bits and pieces last night in case I need to entertain guests - I am sure everyone will realise I shall do my best but if all you get is a chocolate biscuit and a cuppa then that will, I am afraid, have to do.

I have realised I have been sent home without any paperwork (I suppose that's all electronic these days - at least I should hope it is) and also no medication - painkillers is not a problem but I would like to have continued the Vitamin D supplement. I have an appointment to see my GP on 6-January; I am sure I can survive until then.

A lovely Indian last night from the Spice of Bruerne at a decent hour (18:30 rather than 16:45) and a nice bottle of wine with Lynda.  James from next door is back from Barbados (BGI in airline terms - Barbados Grantley Adams International!) kindly popped in to say hello as did Mike (who also took some clothes up to my bedroom).

I think it is going to be a long haul but it has to start somewhere; I am on Day 1 today hence the brackets and the number after the day number in the title.

Options for rehab - I understand that Rushden and Corby were not considered for rehab for me because they could not replicate my spiral stairs.  They are 'OK' and I am sure I will get better at them as time passes. Time for another cuppa I think!

Well what a day - it started with Mike visiting to move stuff up and down the house - that's just something I can't do at the moment, then Steph from the Museum next door but one, followed by Sarah Brown from CRT and then Alan & Cath Fincher, who in turn were followed by Adrian and Adam (delightful mince pies Adam) from Briar Rose.  It's 16:30 and I've not even thought about lunch yet. And to cap it all some lovey comments at the bottom of this page.  I am so spoilt - thank you all so much.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Day 48

Well this really is D-day.  I am so much looking forward to going home to my beloved Stoke Bruerne but at the same time apprehensive that it won't end in me coming back to Cliftonville tonight because the physio (Kamilla) says so and I suppose she has the casting vote.  A call from my very good friend Rodney saying not to stay at home if it is obvious it won't work and, reading between the lines, also saying not to be pig-headed about staying at home. I do understand but I will do all I reasonably can to be allowed to stay. Que Sera Sera as Doris Day used to sing all those years ago - What ever will be will be. It only seems it was yesterday that I slipped and fell and snapped my hip yet it is 48 days ago and if I had known the time it would take before looking at returning home I am sure I would have been horrified.

Well I am home and allowed to stay!  Things are a bit slow around the house but what really matters is that I am back in my own home with my own stuff and really quite delighted.

A huge thank you to everyone who has been and visited, encouraged me, told me not to expect too much and just made the whole process so much more bearable.  I don't know where I'd be without your kindness and support.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Day 47

Day 47 and what could be another landmark day.  I am really not sure what to expect today but think that I'll be asked to pack up my stuff and travel to Stoke Bruerne with an Occupational Therapist. If the OT person is happy with my ability to use the stairs at home then I shall stay at home. That's what I think may happen but in reality it is only a guess at the moment.

What's being proposed for me is something called Discharge To Assess (or in NHS speak DTA). The following flow chart (yes an NHS one!) is for South Gloucestershire but is equally valid for Northamptonshire:


My understanding is that I would follow the extreme left hand pathway; it means I still receive NHS 'treatment' at home making sure I am coping and I am happy that whatever is done is 'self funded' although a little Local Authority help with some of the more expensive things may be helpful.

Just had some good news from Kamilla (the physio) who says a car has been booked to take me and her back to Stoke Bruerne tomorrow afternoon (23-December).  It may be that they think I am not capable of staying at home in which case, sadly, I would need to return to Cliftonville but I don't think they would suggest going home if they didn't think I could cope.  That's all such good news with just the caveat that they may have to say no. I will have outpatient physio in Northampton and so have taken the precaution of registering with TADD to try and reduce too much reliance on friends and neighbours.

I've made an appointment to see my GP so that's another thing ticked off.

Whilst I am sure I will have something to say for the next few days I expect this blog (not sure I like the word) will tail off a little as life returns, I hope, to what passes in my life for normality. There's going to be a few backward steps I am sure but I hope most of it will be forward steps.

Two lovely visits today from Louise at lunchtime and Mike this evening - thank you both very much for taking the time at what is a very busy time of year.

Monday, 21 December 2015

Day 46

Feeling slightly anxious again about what a Monday holds.  Today, after all the 'crutch sorties' is a check on my ability to use the stairs. The outcome will determine if I may be allowed to go home this  week or my name is put forward to go Rushden or Corby. I would so much like to go home, it's been 46 days since I lived at home but I do (I hope) understand that my long term health is paramount and a period of time at the rehab centres at either Rushden or Corby may be the best option for me.  What I really don't want to happen is to have my name put forward for Rushden/Corby and find that because of Christmas/New Year I remain here in Cliftonville.  The issue I see, in remaining at Cliftonville, is that there are no facilities for proper Physio.

As my friend Steve (happy birthday today Steve - 62) would say Yee Haaa! I have been up and down the stairs without too much problem at all - crutch on one side and bannister on the other. Ram and his assistant (Kamilla) are recommending that there is a visit with me and Occupational Therapy (OT) to Stoke Bruerne to see how I cope with my own home and the things like the shower and so on.  They hope that can happen before Christmas - I do hope so.

Towcester (R) and Bideford with a
good load on approaching Stoke
Bruerne Top Lock - 9-Aug-14
A lovely visit this morning from Julia and Richard - they own and run the two working boats Towcester (motor) and Bideford (butty) - I do think if Julia and I had known each other years and years ago Stoke Bruerne might have been a bit of a different place!

Then a visit from Sam Samuels from Stoke Bruerne with a rather large bottle of Sloe Gin and a card - thank you Sam and thank you to Julia and Richard for their time this morning.  It is all much appreciated.

Just sitting here after lunch and realising I have no idea what processes follow this morning's physio to move things forward. I have just asked a nurse and her reply was that at some stage a note will come through saying I can go home; what I would like is something that tells me what the process is - I wonder if that's too much to expect? I am sure my friend Sue will tell me!!! With Christmas looming I would like some clarity about the next few days because there are things I need to put in place including the really important things like having the right ingredients to make a cuppa!

Just been on a 'crutch sortie' and spoke to a 'sensible' nurse.  Apparently what will happen, and may happen tomorrow even, is that:

  • OT (Occupational Therapy) will take me and my 'stuff' home
  • My room at Cliftonville will be kept for me
  • They will assess me at home and my ability to cope
  • If I do cope to their satisfaction they will leave me at home and cancel my room at Cliftonville
  • If OT think I won't be able to cope they will bring me back to Cliftonville

It's all seeming to happen and if it does I shall need some immediate help to:

  • Get some milk (essential for my survival and a cuppa!)
  • Get some food (again essential for my survival)
  • Sort myself out and get 'stuff' to the right places in the house
Lovely visits this evening from my friend Vicky and a colleague of hers from CRT, Neil Owen. Thank you both for coming and brightening up my evening.

I do hope things move forward tomorrow in the way that has been suggested they might.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Day 45

During her visit yesterday my friend Helen made an interesting observation; that I was by far the youngest 'inmate' in here and she wondered if the staff found a reasonably articulate, questioning person a bit of a challenge to their normal patient who is probably 20-25 years older than me and seemingly, if my sorties up and down the corridor are anything to go by,  spend most of their time in bed and/or sitting in the lounge with the text sub-titles activated on the TV.  A sign of things to come for me - I hope not. I think in general they have very compliant patients whose challenges they can deal with via the use of drugs.  The only answer for me is to carry out a few more 'crutch sorties' up and down the corridor and get myself in a position to move on as soon as practical.

I have managed to secure the services of a lady in Stoke Bruerne who will help me for a few hours a week when I get home - that's just great news because it takes the challenges of vacuuming and dusting away whilst I get used to being at home again.  I hope I get home this current week but I have to be realistic and understand that it might just be a bit longer before I am allowed to go home.

A classic 'Anvil' cloud just north of Towcester (I think)
taken from my window after sunset - WOW - amazing
A huge thunderstorm inside
13:00 - I have completed five 'crutch sorties' to the far end of the building this morning - they are getting easier and easier each time and take less time to complete so I am hopeful the 'sorties' are doing me good.

15:30 - I have done another couple of 'crutch sorties' with I think another two or three left to do if I can.  The nurse on duty kindly pointed out I wasn't putting enough weight on my heel so I have rectified that - that puts more stress on my knee which has, for the last six or so weeks, been taking any load in a bent position so it is not surprising it is a little sore this afternoon - no painkillers for me!

A lovely visit from my friend Mike this evening which at times was challenging because the elderly gentleman across the corridor had his TV at full volume watching The Sound of Music; even closing the door helped little!

Tomorrow is a bigish day as I have to try and go up and down the stairs on my own (but with two physios present) to see if I am fit for home or only for the rehab places in Rushden or Corby.  I wonder what the outcome will be.  I did 11 'crutch sorties' today so have done my best to get ready.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Day 44

I spent a lot of time yesterday walking on my crutches up and down the corridor and even down to the front door to say goodbye to Norman and Judith - a tiny bit of an ache this morning but nothing that won't walk off when I start my corridor patrols again a bit later on. I wonder if I could make any money with a 12v red light - judging by the state of the old men I have glimpsed in their rooms I don't think the cost of buying a small red light could be recouped!

It's a pity I can't practice on the back stairs here but I am not allowed to do that without Ram and his assistant being present and it is a weekend day.  Another manifestation of how the the NHS stops at weekends and in this case effectively puts me back another 2 days.  I will however walk the corridor as often as I feel it is sensible to do so in the hope (and expectation) that I shall build up confidence and strength with the ultimate aim of being allowed home - I know it is against the odds but I must try.

Lovely visits today from Roger and Helen - thank you both for the shortbread and chocolate (respectively) - it is much appreciated. Helen kindly took some washing away for me.

I have been down to the far end of the ward three times and down to the front door once so far today and I think there's at least another 'far end of the ward' sortie in the offing before bedtime - it gets easier and easier each time.

18:15 - Just back from another sortie to end of the ward - my estimation is I have covered 600m so far today on the crutches and probably will fit another 140m before close of play so getting in the vicinity of 750m - not bad - I'll look to exceed 1K tomorrow and then see how we go on the stairs on Monday morning.

I did fit in the additional 140m easily, and made a cup of tea on the way back, but I did have to ask to have it delivered to my room because I couldn't find a way of using crutches and carrying a cup of tea - there must be a way!

Friday, 18 December 2015

Day 43

It is six weeks today since I broke my hip - where does the time go to?  Co-incidentally is is also 5 years today since mother died. I think we all felt it was the right time and I am pleased she no longer has to put up with a world she increasingly failed to understand.  She made it to the grand old age of 96½.

I just feel so much more settled now that I have some clarity about what the future holds.  It has taken a seemingly inordinate amount of time to get to the stage I am now at and the just over four weeks I have spent in Cliftonville does seem time that's not been used very productively but in reality the hip has been repairing itself I suppose. Knowing that I will move on to intensive physio and confidence building work is really helpful; there's some clarity now to the immediate future. I also now have more clarity about when I shall be able to return home as I have been told that I would not be offered the move to intensive physio if it were considered I could not be fit for home within six weeks.  The six weeks is the limit for which the County Council (Northamptonshire in  this case) will underwrite the costs of me being in rehab care.

Although my preference is to go to Turn Furlong on the outskirts of Northampton at Kingsthorp I understand there is a long waiting list with three people in Cliftonville already ahead of me on the waiting list. I have agreed to go to either Corby or Rushden as my head has over-ruled my heart and it is in my best interests, I believe, to go wherever I can get on with becoming 100% fit again in the shortest possible time. I am aiming to be home by the end of January-2016. Hanging on for Turn Furlong whilst remaining in Cliftonville will not do me any good and blocks a non acute bed for someone who may need it more than I do. It seems that Rushden and Corby offer exactly the same facilities as Turn Furlong.

This morning I have an assessment by Ram the Physio to confirm I am fit to go into long term rehab - I hope that will be nothing more than a formality.

The other thing that's rambling around in my mind is how I will cope with returning home to a lovely house with challenging stairs.  I am hopeful the stairs won't be an issue but this is the first real 'wake up' call I have had and I need to think seriously what reduced mobility would mean in future years - it's really not something I want to think about but my parents did, when it was their time, and it was such a successful move for them to a retirement village called Oakwoods.

09:30 - Just had Ram and his assistant take me out into the corridor on the crutches - I am now to use crutches during the day and the zimmer is reserved for attending to mother nature at night! I walked and down a stair (the rise was I think less than my house) but I managed it quite well I think.  Going down was a wee bit painful but I suspect that was muscular and not the underlying bone structure. I shall continue my exercises and walking up and down the corridor over the weekend and Ram will check me out on the stairs again on Monday morning.  There is a new 'process' which means if I can do the stairs without too much pain I may be allowed to go home so that's an incentive to work towards - otherwise it's Rushden or Corby - home sounds great and I'll do all I can to make that happen if at all possible - then I can order an evening meal from the Spice of Bruerne.

11:30 - Just had a lovely visit from my cousin John and his wife Fiona - haven't seen them for ages and I have a little box of flapjacks and, it seems, a Christmas present, how very kind of them.

Norman and Debra the Zebra
17:00 - Another lovely visit today from my days of 2CVing - Norman and Judith - I haven't seen them for years but it was as if we had last seen each other a week or so ago - true friends. They were telling me about all their children and the children of mutual friends to whom I used to read stories at 2CV camps - these children now have children of their own - where does the time go to. Bless you Norman and Judith for a lovely afternoon.  I managed to walk (on crutches) down to the front door to see Norman's and Judith's infamous 2CV 'Debra the Zebra' - a white 2CV with black Zebra marks on it or is it a black 2CV with white Zebra marks.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Day 42

Another day yesterday when nothing happened.  I do hope things start to move forward today because I fear that if nothing happens then nothing will happen until after the Christmas break - probably Monday 4-January-2016.  That concerns me because of the wasted time that I could put into my recovery and long term future.  I am utterly exasperated by the NHS's inability to do anything helpful or positive at the moment.  I live in hope that something positive will happen today.

10:30 - Just wheeled myself down to the reception area.  They claim to have had a verbal confirmation of my notes but are now awaiting a faxed copy before something may start to happen. I was told that the length of time I have waited for the notes is quite normal. I am just lost for words at that suggestion I am afraid. Hopefully now I may just see this multi-disciplinary team to help me get back to full health.

14:00 - Just had Alison visit with a letter (remember Neville Chamberlain with the 'Peace on our Time' letter) to say I may weight bear subject to a session with Ram the physio in the morning. He will, I understand, recommend long term rehab and that could be at Turn Furlong, Corby or Rushden (see Options for Rehab on the right).  Turn Furlong has three from here (without me) on the waiting list so my head has overruled my heart and I have agreed to go to any of them because I feel my long term rehab in any of the three places is more important to me than holding out for Turn Furlong and waiting for ages.  Poor old young (compared to me) Sarah from CRT lives in the Irthlingborough area which is quite close to both places!



I feel as if a huge cloud has been lifted.  I don't know when I might go to Corby or Rushden but it may be this side of Christmas, it all depends on there being a vacancy being available.  I also feel that there's a huge responsibility on me to do my bit to get back to full health.  The maximum time in Corby or Rushden (at Northants County Council expense) is six weeks but I am advised I would not be sent there if they didn't expect me to be able to go home in six weeks.

A lovely visit at lunch time from my friend Roy from Stoke Bruerne - Roy thank you for being here when the good news came through.

I have been diagnosed, amongst other things, as suffering from Osteopenia which is a precursor to Osteoporosis but doesn't necessarily lead to Osteoporosis.  Osteopenia was only discovered in 1992 so it's all quite new really. There is a silver lining to this broken hip which is that my blood pressure has generally come down with a bump - this afternoon it was 118/68 but my pulse is still a little high at 80 and Oxygen Sats OK at 96%. My blood pressure has been up at around 145/95 for a good number of years.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Day 41

I have just read yesterday's blog and it doesn't make for good reading but it was a difficult day; some perhaps of my own making.  My friend Vicky has suggested I may be internalising issues and, having reminded myself what that means in reality, I think she may well be right. I do find it difficult that people don't 'deliver' what they say they will so if someone says that they will get back to me in the afternoon I expect them to do that or let me know if they can't. It seems here that the standard is that even if someone promises they will do something by a certain time, if they are prevented from doing what they promised because the information, for example, wasn't available, it is quite in order to do nothing at all. That's not how I have worked all my life but I'll have to try and work with the standards here as I don't expect I'll be able to change them! Let's hope that what has been promised, including an update to my notes following the Fracture Clinic appointment, because without them we can't move forward, happens today.

My cousin's wife, Fiona, rang last night.  She was a sister, I  think, at Wexham Park hospital in Slough and asked me a lot of medical related questions. Very kindly she and husband John are coming to see me on Friday.

A cracking night's sleep, probably the best I have enjoyed for some years, only waking once to attend to Mother Nature.

My grateful thanks to Jennie and also to Jacqueline Biggs for their kind and very helpful comments which came via my blog.

My friend Sarah from CRT came early this morning and kindly dropped off some washing she did for me.  We had a discussion about last night's Stoke Bruerne Parish Council meeting and the fallout from the the unprecedented numbers that attended on Saturday evening.

10:00 - The Geriatric Consultant (Dr Naz) has just visited (I thought he was coming tomorrow) and has pleaded with me to revert to toe-touch walking because there hasn't been any paperwork regarding my ability to weight bear.  Oh dear, that is, to me a hugely backward step after having been told verbally by the registrar on Monday that I could weight bear as much as I could tolerate.  Dr Naz says I do need intensive physio and I do need to go to long term rehab but that's not been indicated by the registrar I saw on Monday because he hasn't given a clear cut medical definition of what I may or may not do and my notes still have not been updated as of 10:00 this morning.  I am trying to be more sanguine about things but it is immensely frustrating as I effectively mark time - my friend Lynda owes me £10 following a bet we had!

11:30 - Diana and Amanda from the Discharge team have just been in - they are hopeful they will receive an update from the Fracture Clinic by 13:00 at which time the physio will know what I can and can't be allowed to do.  I do understand that Ram (the physio) can't get me doing things without the paperwork!  Once Ram can see what I am able to do under the authorised weight bearing from the Fracture Clinic then a decision can be made about the future care - it seems the other fly in the ointment is that Christmas is almost upon us and transfers to longer term care seem, for some reason, to take a back seat - well Secretary of State for Health it is not just a 5-day-a-week health service - it seems to slow down for public holidays as well but I am sure you know that. I was advised that there is an entry in my notes from Ram (the physio) that he won't do anything until the registrar's notes are forwarded.

17:30 - Well here we are at 17:30 and nothing has been received from the Fracture Clinic so I am formally returned to no weight bearing (toe-touching I suppose) and tomorrow will be wasted as well so that's three days wasted in my recovery now.  I can't understand why things are as they are but I have a good mind to take my wheelchair down to the Fracture Clinic in the morning and be a PITA until the answers are delivered.  What's happening is totally unacceptable and there's no other description available that's possible without reverting to naughty words. If you click the link at the end of this sentence you will be taken to the NHS standard for recovery from a broken hip - link is here.

With Christmas so close I do now wonder if I shall be allowed to weight bear by then and, if not  it is going to be the New Year. I just wonder wonder what it takes to make a report of the 15 minute consultation I had with the registrar and get it the 200m to Cliftonville to enable the physio to at least start me off on the more robust road to full fitness.  I am so pleased I have documented my time in NGH day-by-day because if it comes to it I have all the evidence I need.

Lovely visits today from Laura Sturrock from Braunston and Lynda Payton - thank you ladies.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Day 40

Lying here in the wee small hours trying to understand why things are as they are for me.  My heart still feels broken and the disservice I feel the NHS has provided me huge.

When I think what there is for me here compared with what there would be at one of the longer term rehab centres I am quite shattered. Here at Cliftonville there are no facilities for me other than a dining room to go to (which I am afraid I don't particularly like) and a lounge. For any Physio all I have for exercise is the corridor outside to walk up and down; I am not permitted to go outside without an escort yet, at the moment, I am required to stay here for another seven weeks. I feel a battle brewing.

My Room in Cliftonville
If the dice had fallen a different way and I had been offered long term rehab (which I strongly feel I should have) this is what the local Tern Furlong would have offered me:

Physiotherapy and occupational therapy support are provided for older people requiring rehabilitation and there is a spa pool, fitness suite and occupational therapy kitchen within the Centre accessed from a spectacular central top lit arcade. Turn Furlong has 51 single bedrooms in total, consisting of 37 single rooms with en-suite facilities including walk-in shower, and 14 apartments with en-suite facilities, separate lounge/ diner and well equipped kitchenette facilities.

There is a small shop and hairdressing salon two communal dining areas, and a number of lounges. There are landscaped enclosed gardens surrounding the Centre.

I just completely fail to understand why I am required to remain in Cliftonville and for such a long period of time. At the moment it is the worst possible outcome. This time yesterday I was anxiously optimistic - right now that's not quite the feeling I have. The healing process is, in my opinion, an holistic one and not just about the physical side of healing (however important that may be); feeling good about yourself is equally as important.

The corridor I walk up and down
10:00 Just had a visit from a lady from the Discharge Team - she's not the least bit happy with yesterday's happenings and is taking action as we speak.  She confirmed no physio for me today because Ram, the physio, has no notes to go on for my care.  She's coming back this afternoon with Naomi the Discharge Matron, who is lovely, in an effort to hatch a plan which has a more positive outcome for the NHS and for me.

At 10:30 my friend Ray from Coventry kindly came to visit and brought some lovely chocolates.  Thank you Ray for coming and for the conversation.

Cliftonville forgot to deliver my main course for lunch.  When I asked it was delivered but it was, sadly, stone cold.

Blood pressure way up at 13:40 159/93 - I wonder why that is?  No prizes for guessing. Be interesting to see if it goes down later.

I have been down to speak to the two duty nurses.  The supposition from them is as follows:

  • My notes from the Fracture Clinic appointment have not been updated as of 17:00 15-December (fact)
  • The Physio cannot do anything with me because the notes don't say anything (fact)
  • They think the registrar I saw yesterday at the Fracture Clinic has assumed that I am living at home and therefore is treating me in a different way to that which he would if he knew/understood I was an inmate - despite Vicky and I telling him until we were blue in the face I was in Cliftonville
  • Both the duty nurses think it is a most unsatisfactory state of affairs and that I do need intensive physio so now that's two days lost. They say recovering from a broken hip is a long and difficult process and I'll need all the help I can get (and I am getting none at the moment other than a warm dry room with reasonable food)
  • They think my notes have been annotated with Discharge when they should have been annotated with Transfer because I am still the responsibility of NGH and the NHS
  • The reason the Discharge Team didn't come back today is because my notes are not updated they have nothing to discuss with me - I think they should have made contact and told me so
All in all not a satisfactory state of affairs either for me or NGH/NHS and I am now fairly sure that people are working towards resolving things for me but the duty nurses did say that they didn't think being powerless (as I am) suited me - they sure are right there. It seems the practice here is if there is no update they say nothing - that's not my style and never has been.

Lovely visits this evening from Rob and Mike - thank you both for taking the time and the conversations.


Monday, 14 December 2015

Day 39

Well here we are - D-day - the day when I will hopefully know what the slightly longer term future holds for me, where I may go from Cliftonville and, perhaps most importantly, how my broken hip is repairing itself (with the help of screws, plates etc etc). I'll also find out if I am permitted to weight bear.  I'll update this page once I am back from the Fracture Clinic - I think it may be quite a long appointment as I am sure I will need to go to Radiology for some X-Rays and I may have to wait up to 2 hours for the contracted private ambulance to take me the 213m back to Cliftonville.

Been ready to go since 07:30 and it is now 08:40 and no sign of anyone.  I could have had an extra hour in bed!

Finally the ambulance came at 09:20 so I was late for my appointment - the good news is that I was allowed to come home by myself with my friend Vicky keeping an eye on me - my electric wheelchair skills need enhancing a bit.

Well - the answer I received was not quite what I was expecting.  The X-Rays looked fine (must try and get hold of some copies) and the screws look to be nice and tight.  I am told I can use the Zimmer frame and the crutches (but the Physio says no crutches without him being there) and take as much weight as I can tolerate.  Does that mean full or partial weight bearing - well no one seems to know and my notes are still at Northampton General (NGH) because they didn't give them back to me. How much longer will I be here - well initially it seems to be 7 (yes seven) more weeks (that's 1-February-2016) but I can go home when I think it is OK - well it is not my area of expertise so I have asked if the Discharge Matron (Naomi Walters) can pop in and discuss things with me because I think I'd find 7 more weeks a bit mentally challenging to be honest. I really do need that care plan so I can understand the road to full recovery.  The chap I saw said that the femoral head could take up to 2 years to die (if it is going to die) so I shall be under the care of NGH for quite some time.  I could think of a few terse Kiwi words to use but I shall refrain just in case I need them in the future!

I think I can find things to do with my CRT volunteering hat on which may involve a day a week in the Milton Keynes office - probably not until the new year and only then if it fits in with CRT's ideals. but it would give what my Dad used to call 'social intercourse' (!) and mixing with people more of my age.

An update following a chat with Alison one of the nurses here.  My notes were returned from NGH this afternoon and there is nothing new in them.  To say she is cross would be an understatement because it means the Physio can do nothing with me tomorrow as he can't use my understanding of the appointment so we have to wait until a letter comes from Mr Northover's (my consultant) secretary saying what I am allowed to do.  Alison thinks I should be going elsewhere for longer term rehab, that the registrar I saw today thinks I am living at home already (because of the statement that any medicine should be ordered through my GP) and that staying here is not in my longer term interests. I remain extremely disappointed by today's appointment; I think it is a huge opportunity lost for me and I rather hope that another appointment at the Fracture Clinic will be forthcoming before Christmas when perhaps a sensible discussion can take place.  The only way to describe how I feel tonight is heartbroken and utterly let down by the NHS.

My friend Sarah came to see me this evening and, to take the subject off the challenges today has presented me with, we discussed how we can avoid blocking Stoke Bruerne next time we have an event.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Day 38

Lois Carter's small dutch barge Friesland
outside the Canal Museum (Photo: Louise Stockwin)
Although it is 5:30 I did sleep like a log last night. I was excused the injection in my tummy (to prevent DVT) because the nurse said red wine did a similar job - bring on the red wine I say.

Last night's Illuminated Boats and Carols on the Cut was a huge success but in reality too much of a success with numbers of people attending far exceeding our expectations.  There were issues with indiscriminate parking, cars getting stuck in the Church car park (having to be removed by 4x4), and almost a gridlock.  The idea behind the event is to thank the village for putting up with the two other events during the year (Family Festival and Village at War) so we need to find a way of dealing with the interest at next year's event.  

At least that's taken my mind off the hip which, in reality, is feeling a great deal better however I am still anxious about the Fracture Clinic appointment tomorrow.

Very close to D-day now - feeling apprehensively positive (if that's possible).

My friend Mike came to see me this evening - thank you Mike.  Lynda has sent me some images taken last yesterday in Stoke Bruerne so if anyone wishes to see them please click here.

Time to set my alarm for 05:30 - like being back at work!

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Day 37

Off to Stoke Bruerne today at about 09:30 (hope breakfast comes in time).  A big day in Stoke Bruerne as we have:
  • Christmas get together for all the volunteers at 11:00
  • Opening of the Ark Stained Glass in the Old Stables at 14:30
  • Formal opening of the Stoke Bruerne Interpretation project (working on that when I broke my hip!) at 15:00
  • Illuminated Boats at 16:30
  • Carols at 17:30
  • A visit to the Navigation for an evening meal (I have to be back in Cliftonville by 21:00 as the gates are locked then) at 19:00

Today will give me a real opportunity to test out the electric wheelchair; up to now I have just been practicing low speed manoeuvres.

I am not the world's best at wheel-chairing at low speed but I think I improved during the day.

We started with a Volunteer Christmas 'do', then the opening of the Ark Stained Glass craft place with Andrea Leadsom (MP for South Northants), Richard Parry and Vicky Martin from CRT, then the formal opening of the Stoke Bruerne Interpretation Project again with Andrea, Richard and Vicky and finally Iluminated Boats and Carols on the Museum Green. Finally a good blow out in the Navigation Pub.

I thought it was just a wonderful day all round.

Friday, 11 December 2015

Day 36

Goodness me today marks 5 weeks since I fell and broke my hip.  I just cannot believe how quickly the time has passed by especially as I have not had a lot to do except lie here and let the hip get on with growing back together.  The results of that five weeks of growing back together will become evident in Monday when I have my Fracture Clinic appointment.

Saturday marks the Illuminated Boats event in Stoke Bruerne but in reality it is more than that.  The day will start with a Christmas get together for all the local volunteers organised by Canal & River Trust, followed by the opening, by our local MP Andrea Leadsom, of the Ark Stained Glass place in the Old Stables and the the formal unveiling, again by Andrea Leadsom, of the Stoke Bruerne Interpretation Project (I was working on that when I fell and broke my hip) and then we have Illuminated Boats and Carols on the Cut followed by a meal in the Navigation.  Then it will be back, for me, to Cliftonville to await my Fracture Clinic appointment.

I have tried to continue my cross stitch but sadly the lighting is so poor in here (very low wattage bulbs) that I find I can't really see properly to do it.  My gut feel is if I asked for higher wattage bulbs I wouldn't get them so I think the best thing to do is wait and see what the outcome of Monday's Fracture Clinic appointment is and see what I might need to do after that to improve my lighting should I end up back here!

A short but very welcome visit from my friend Emma, who lives in Brackley, this afternoon.  I will hopefully see Emma in Stoke Bruerne tomorrow when I go there.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Day 35

Iona (previously Bellerophon)
on the River Wey
I did a bit of shopping on Amazon recently and one of the things I bought was a four DVD set of the Rank Organisation 'Look at Life' series from the late 1950s / early 1960s - it is their transport series and has some lovely film of a Bristol Britannia flying via Bombay (Mumbai now) and Hong Kong (the old Kai Tak airport) to Tokyo and back but the reason I bought it is that there's one film called 'Where no tide flows' about the inland waterways. Some of the film shows a working pair going through Blisworth tunnel and includes the butty Bellerophon (now Iona on the River Wey at Godalming) which was originally paired with Bootes (pronounced 'Boot ese') which belongs to my friend Steph and her husband Steve and is moored at Weedon. What a small world.

Bellerophon in carrying days
I have finally realised (and it has taken me three weeks) that at Cliftonville I am 'out to grass'.  I am just here to spend time whilst the hip joint grows back together.  A bit like a lamb being put out to grass to fatten up before being sent to the abattoir! All they are doing for me is keeping me warm, comfortable, fed and watered and I suppose that's all I really need; I am not in need of nursing care as some of the more elderly are and any advice I seek is just brushed away.  I wonder why it has taken me so long to come to that conclusion. The frustration I feel must be self evident to them but they seem powerless to help in any way. The new lady across they way has done nothing but shout and scream all night - a bit disturbing for me but I do feel for her - she apparently has no idea where she is - those of you I have talked to know what to do if it should happen to me!

A very pleasant visit from Sarah (CRT) this morning who kindly delivered my washing - I really dislike having to ask for help like this but I know I have no alternative - I do remember being told when I was younger (a lot younger) that it is as blessed to receive as it is to give - I need to have that at the forefront of my thoughts for a few weeks I suppose.

Bootes (originally paired with Bellerophon)
All of a sudden today my air mattress was whisked away this afternoon - it moves all night to stop you getting pressure sores - as it was needed for someone who is confined to their bed.  Understand pressure sores are quite awful and very difficult to heal properly.  I now have a 'normal' mattress which I am told will be more comfortable. The air mattress was fine so may be I'll be even more comfortable tonight!

My friend Mike visited this evening and kind brought some collapsible boxes so that if (when) I move on from Cliftonville I shall be able to carry the stuff I seems to have aquired over 5 weeks.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Day 34

I am becoming a little anxious about the outcome of Monday's Fracture Clinic appointment. I know there's not a lot I can do to influence the outcome except continue with the exercises given me by the Physios, who incidentally, have not been back other than to pop in for five minutes recently.  I suppose they must think that the exercises they have given me are sufficient until such time as I am allowed to weight bear or, a new term that came in on Monday, partially weight bear - whatever that means.  No one has been to check what I am doing or what I can or can't do - all very strange and at the moment I am not prepared to challenge for fear we have another day like last Wednesday with the  Geriatric consultant. Bullying in hospital - perish the thought!

Just had the consultant visit (same one as last week) and if my understanding of body language and demeanour is correct I have won the battle with him.  They do try and be hugely simplistic about things but I avoided the opportunity to rise to any bait and we have parted, this time I believe, as 'friends' - he's just not my cup-of-tea and would rate him as 1/10 for bedside manner.

I am hoping my friend Lorna will visit today and get me started on my cross stitch - I am a bit confused by long cross stitch and have always undertaken embroidery with a pattern on the backing - not this time - it is plain white (well cream really). Lorna did get me started - we had such a laugh (she had me in stitches!) and we've managed 7 of them.

Then lovely visits from Helen and Roger and a number of Christmas cards from home.  A good finish to the day.

A lovely call late this evening from my friend (and previous boss in BA - poor girl) Tricia.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Day 33

It comes as a bit of a surprise to remember that for monthly meetings I attend I am submitting my 2nd apology. I really hope I shall not need to submit a 3rd one.

I had a chat last night with the duty nurse about, what is to me, the stupidity of ordering an ambulance to take me 260m to the Fracture Clinic.  She says just to sit back and accept that this is the way it is done; I just can't imagine the £m that are being wasted.  I asked what the procedure really is on Monday and have been advised that I must get myself ready to go by 07:30 but I may not not leave my room until the ambulance is at the door - that could be any time between 07:30 and 09:30. I can so easily wheel myself in the wheelchair I currently have access to, leaving at say 09:00 and be there by 09:15 but that's not permitted. No wonder the NHS is running a budget deficit.  I am sure there are patients who do need an ambulance transfer for such small distances but there must be many hundreds a day who don't and could contribute to significant savings for the NHS.

A fairly quiet day so far (15:00) but one big excitement is that an electric wheelchair has been delivered - I'd prefer not, at this stage, to say from whence it came but I am delighted to be able to use it until such time as I am able to walk reasonable distances on my own and the wheelchair goes off to do the job it was purchased for. It is just so comfortable and my bum does not look big in it! I'll give it a good try out at all the events that are taking place in Stoke Bruerne on Saturday 12-December and Sunday 13-December.

I should be at the South East Waterways quarterly meeting in Banbury tomorrow evening but, sadly, that's a non-starter for me - goodness only knows what a wheelchair taxi would cost to get to Banbury and back again and then I don't know what the disabled facilities would be like when I get there.  This broken hip has made me acutely aware of the challenges one faces when disabled - I am, with any luck, going to be able to walk away from this (until I do the same thing again!) but there are so many people who can't and I must say that being disabled in modern Britain, whilst hugely better than ever it was, is still not as good as it could be in my opinion.

Very helpful visits this evening from Mike P who brought some Amazon parcels for me and Sarah from CRT who had kindly pressed my cross stitch backing.

A long text discussion with my friend Sue has made me realise how challenging the next few months could be because a broken hip is, in reality, quite a 'traumatic' injury with the potential to go quite wrong.  I am apprehensive (I think understandably) about Monday's Fracture Clinic appointment because I now think I understand what could go wrong and I just hope that they find everything is in order with my hip. I have done my best with the exercises and each day things seem to become easier and the range of movement does improve however small that improvement is - I can almost get my right leg onto a handle in the shower which means I could wash my foot more easily!

Monday, 7 December 2015

Day 32

Hugely disappointed in the food yesterday.  Breakfast (the most important meal of the day?) was fine but lunch scored nil points from me based on the tiny portions and the evening meal (delivered at 16:50) was stone cold. I know it is a Sunday but that is no excuse for sub-standard food.  The document from Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals suggests that a good wholesome diet is critical in ensuring a good long term outcome. I am not sure why the main meal of the day is at midday - it wasn't on the ward so I don't suppose there is a medical reason for it.  Best not to ask probably!

Had a session with the OT lady (Jenni) this morning.  She says there is nothing than can be done to hasten my move out of here (to wherever) until I have my appointment with the fracture clinic next week (Monday - jut a few hours less than seven days now) so it is just a question of me doing the exercises I have been given and waiting for the outcome of the appointment - that's just not my style - I want to be doing as much as I can to bring the date for going home forward.

Getting to the Fracture Clinic next week seems as if it has come out of an Ealing Comedy.  The details are:

  • Appointment is for 09:30
  • No one, who is trained, can be found to escort me in a wheelchair the 260m Google Maps tells me I am from the Fracture Clinic
  • I have said that my friend Vicky will escort me but that doesn't fit with NHS guidelines
  • I therefore have to be ready at 07:30 to go to the Fracture Clinic (what about breakfast?)
  • Once the appointment is over I have to wait (up to two hours again) for an ambulance to bring me the 260m back to Cliftonville (what about lunch?)
  • NHS you can save a fortune here somewhere
  • Meantime I am allowed to go to Stoke Bruerne and take myself up and down the towpath unescorted.......
If it wasn't so sad it would, I think, be funny.

A lovely visit from Sarah Brown (CRT) this evening - thank you Sarah for doing the shopping and for ironing my cross stitch.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Day 31

A very quiet day yesterday - I was surprised that the double glazing allowed the curtains to move in the wind and it was markedly colder in the room. Very odd in what must be a relatively modern building. Also the water in the loo was going up and down a little which I think I have seen before in my previous house and is something to do with pressure changes brought about by strong winds.

A bit achy in the right leg this morning but that is, I think, just the muscles protesting at being used in the Physio exercises yesterday and not having been used to do anything much in the last few weeks apart from just sit doing nothing.  When I am allowed to weight bear (hopefully Monday week) I can get that right leg back into walking trim again.

Bit disappointed in the size of
Sunday lunch !
One of the things that has been exercising my mind recently is that at no time I have had discussed with me the 'life cycle' of a broken hip.  Bearing in mind I am at the younger end of the average range of someone who breaks a hip it is clearly not the the same for everyone and I imagine that the older one gets the more life-changing a broken hip can be.  However I can look back and map a life-cycle on to my experiences and perhaps extrapolate that forward as I understand it at the moment.  Perhaps a gant chart who help but I am not sure I could fit one on here so just a bit of verbal:
  • Day 1 - break hip
  • Day 1 or Day 2 - repair hip
  • Day 5 - get out of bed and weight bear on good leg
  • Days 5 through 14 - remain on the ward and get more proficient at hopping with a zimmer and learn to use crutches - weekday physio sessions
  • Day 14 - transfer from an acute bed to one where you don't require daily care (my experience suggests physio reduces and you are left to your own devices)
  • Day 40 (ish) - fracture clinic appointment to assess weight bearing options and range of movement
  • After this I am not sure but assume transfer to a longer term rehab with intensive physio but I am not sure what long term means - my current assumption is that once I can prove I can use my (difficult) stairs and can cook, wash, clean, etc. etc. I will be allowed home but will have carers call in for a period of time but there has been no discussion with me about what the short term future holds other than the long term future is good, the short term a bit more challenging.
  • I have found this information on the web - some of the services I have enjoyed but others not. I am painfully (no pun intended) aware that the physio side of things in Cliftonville has not been of the regularity I enjoyed when in Abington Ward.
Oh how I wish Northampton General had a document such as this and someone had come and discussed things with me. With acknowledgement to Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals.

To add insult to injury the evening meal was just 10 chips, 2 spring rolls and a Chicken goujon and they were all cold.  Really not good enough.

A lovely visit from Mike P this evening.  Tomorrow we are back to 'normality' after a now normal to me quiet weekend.  The NHS really does seem to be a 5-day-a-week organisation - we get ill or have accidents and get better whether it is a weekend or not so the NHS does, in my opinion, have to move towards a 7-day-a-week organisation sooner rather than later.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Day 30

Well here we are on day 30 and the day when my house insurance would have been substantially reduced because of 30 days of no occupancy.  Luckily I have had friends coming and going collecting the little bits and pieces that I deem essential to my life in Cliftonville and my friend and neighbour James tried out my house for size before he went to Barbados on holiday (envious me? of course not - well a little but I have Cliftonville!).

Very sadly I heard last night that my cousin Priscilla had died yesterday morning at the age of 82. I hadn't seen her for a good number of years but when family die I find it kind of reiterates that you are also mortal. I have her close family in my thoughts but have made it known that I am not, for the foreseeable future,  fit enough to go to a family funeral.

Reminiscing in my mind about my lovely outing yesterday and hoping that the open day that Canal & River Trust are having at Banbury Town lock is successful despite the awful weather.  We have a similar event at Stoke Bruerne top lock over the weekend of 13/14-February - it is my intention I shall be home by then and able to take an active part in the events - cheese scones anyone?

Slightly concerned that the hospital is writing to me at home (significant change of timing for Fracture Clinic on 14-December) when I am still an in-patient in their care and that nurses in Cliftonville had no record of the change in time - the letter was dated 27-November. I suppose that being forewarned is being forearmed so I will ask Louise and Steph at the museum to check that there are no NHS letters in my mail.

Just watched an interview on BBC with a cardiologist pontificating (no other word for it) about the NHS and quoting a mortality rate for a broken hip of 25% without qualifying it.  If I hadn't done my research and know it is nothing like that for me I could be quite concerned. BBC please sort out your journalism - it is not of the highest quality.

Everyone has been very kind with offering to do things to help so I have created a 'Shopping List' on the right with things that are on my mind.  I will remove / add things as necessary.

A very quiet day here but I can hear the wind howling outside and I am very pleased I am not out in it - hope the house is OK.

Friday, 4 December 2015

Day 29

Where I want to be and what I want to
be doing!
Well here we are starting week five; it was four weeks ago today that I slipped over.  The movement in my hip has improved dramatically in the last few days; I understand that at the Fracture Clinic appointment on 14-December my range of movement is a factor in allowing me to weight bear.  Now that's something I can do something about but I really can do anything about the way the bones are rejoining so I suppose I need to concentrate on the things I can influence and, at the same time, make sure I don't over stress the hip joint.  I am so much looking forward to my time in Stoke Bruerne today.

One of the things this broken hip has provided is an insight into what it may be like to be disabled. All things being equal I shall return to full fitness in a (relatively) short time. Others of course are not so fortunate. In Wednesday's 'discussion' Alison did say she had no idea what it was like to be in my position.  My response was to suggest that she tried it, something that is so easy to do, and something that would give her an insight into the experiences her patients (well customers really) have. I was speaking to my friend Emma about this yesterday.  I understand her sister is involved in the care of the elderly.  The nurses were very quick to prescibe incontinence pads (and the like) for their patients so Em's sister made the nurses wear incontinence knickers and not go to the loo! I think all careers should be obliged to walk a mile in the shoes of their patients to fully understand what sometimes is an undignified existence - well done Em's sister.

A lovely time in Stoke Bruerne today.  I tested an electric wheelchair in a run up to the tunnel portal and back - it was really good.  Spent some time talking to Bob the Blacksmith and then back to the museum.  The boys were about to take Sculptor down to the A508 and back to wind her. Spent some time in the museum talking to Helen (she's done my washing again - thank you Helen) and Steph did a number of little jobs - thank you Steph and do hope your cold gets better. Helen retrieved my mail; I was surprised to find a letter from the NHS changing my 12-December appointment from 14:30 to 09:30 but why send it home and no copy to me in Cliftonville - very odd way to do things - lucky I went home!

Back 'inside' now and a nice visit from Mike P this evening.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Day 28

A really good night's sleep despite being woken up in the middle of the night by one of the staff wanting my notes! Very odd.  What a day yesterday was; I don't think I have ever been spoken to in the way I was - I am utterly appalled by what happened.  The visit by the matron in charge of the Discharge team, did however, restore my faith in human nature.

I spent some time yesterday watching the Parliament channel and listening to the MPs debating authorising bombing in Syria.  A difficult decision but, having listened to some of the debate, I feel the correct decision, in the circumstances, was made. We must support out allies. I think it was a hugely difficult decision; I have a great deal of respect for Hilary Benn (Shadow Foreign Secretary) for such an impassioned speech.  Having worked for BA for so many years I have a number of Muslim friends who are as horrified by the actions of (so called) IS as we are and certainly the atrocities committed are not in the name of Islam.

A quiet day today but as of 16:00 I have enjoyed very pleasant visits from Roy Sears and Trevor Morley - thank you both for taking the time to come and see me.

This evening I have enjoyed a lovely visit from Mikey P and then a most helpful time with Vicky M. Thank you both.

I hammered the exercises today - I think I may have overstretched the ligament/tendon running down the back of my right (bad) leg but it is important than I can do everything I may be expected to do on 14-December.  Off to my beloved stomping ground of Stoke Bruerne in the morning.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Day 27

Sadly not my finest hour when Vicky arrived last night at the same time I was expressing to the duty nurse how I felt about another day going by and nothing being done about the issue of Vitamin D and the nurse saying she would do something tomorrow. The complete lack of transparency over just about everything is probably my biggest complaint about the NHS. Most things are not discussed with the customer and when questions are asked it seems no one is empowered to provide anything other than a holding answer. Vicky was kind enough to go off with the nurse whilst she looked at my notes and to say she thought I was very restrained! To balance the books the clinical care of getting my hip repaired was outstanding.

Today is Geriatric (preposterous) consultant day so we'll have to discuss Vitamin D again. All I want is an honest answer from them but to be told I need a booster of 50,000 units (whatever that is in reality) and a week later nothing has eventuated doesn't match up in my book.

I have done a little research into Vitamin D this morning, the results of which I have purloined from the internet and are here.
  • Darker skin - No
  • Feel 'Blue' - yes some days I do
  • 50 or older - sadly yes
  • Overweight or obese - maybe slightly overweight
  • Bones ache - not to my knowledge
  • Head sweating - yes, yes, yes and yes - been an issue for years
  • You have gut trouble (nice turn of phrase) - sometimes I do and fat, I find, doesn't always digest well
I have had a visit from the doctor, the consultant and the senior nurse this morning and it has been pointed out to me that:
  • The different form of calcium supplement I received between 12-November and 18-November was in fact the booster - that wasn't, to the best of my knowledge explained to me in those terms - what was explained was that they needed to change the form of delivery once a week
  • I need to accept what they say - I have
  • I was advised last Friday that I was advised that the supplement received between 12-November and 18-November was the supplement. I don't honestly recall that but have accepted that I was
  • I have apologised unreservedly if I have caused them any offence
I am finding this process really challenging but I'll have to deal with it. I am utterly appalled and have been humiliated by the visit of the consultant.  The easiest thing to do is write up the visit, in my own words, and in due course go back and visit it and try and work out if I need to do anything.

What a difference a few hours makes.  I have received a visit from the Discharges matron who was delightful and I am confident she will do as she has committed to do and will keep an eye out for me over the next couple of weeks. I won't repeat here what was said as I feel that would break a confidence between us - I do have a record of what was said.

I have enjoyed very supportive visits today from Lorna York, Louse Stockwin and Helen Westlake; Helen has kindly taken away a bag full of dirty washing!

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Day 26

I have a couple of important meetings today - the main one is trying to find out when the meeting will be that discusses my longer term care (back to my BA days where we always seemed to have meetings about meetings!). That will follow the decision weight bearing / non-weight bearing. I feel I need a 'friend' with me, who understands my circumstances, and can help me make the right calls about the future. I am very anxious that I am not placed somewhere where visiting and getting clothes washed becomes a challenge. The other issue we must address is the seemingly on again/off again Vitamin D requirement. The consultant has said I must have it but it's never been prescribed and there's a huge amount of smoke and mirrors around that. I know I am experiencing times of being really quite anxious about the future and some of the anxiousness may be as a result of the Vitamin D deficiency I am told I have.

I have been told that the issue about Vitamin D is in the 'Doctors' book' but the nurses are unsure if the doctor will come today because of the confusion over the suspended Junior Doctors' strike. Likewise PALS are not sure if Amanda will find time to see me today - frustrated may be the understatement of the day.

A lovely visit this morning from my friend James from next door who returned to the UK last night after three weeks away photographing the Brazilian and Abu Dhabi Grands Prix and the Bahrain World Endurance Car event. James is kindly going to run my car for a while to ensure the battery is kept fully charged and it is warmed through, likewise he is going to spend the night in my house to ensure everything is working as expected.

I have received an e-mail that says I was involved in a meeting last Friday about my immediate future - nothing of the sort happened that I was part of.

In case anyone is thinking of visiting on Friday (4-December) I am planning to be in Stoke Bruerne on that day arriving about 11:00 and leaving around 15:00. One of the things I am hoping to do is to see Bob The Blacksmith and see if he has some ideas about a bannister down the inside of my stairwell.

Did the meetings that were planned happen? - my expectation was they wouldn't and my expectations have been satisfied.  I really fail to understand, even on a day when a planned Junior Doctors' strike was suspended, how a hospital of the standing of NGH manages to run itself. So I remain unsure what the issue is on Vitamin D and I don't know if there will be a 'round table' meeting after my fracture clinic appointment to ensure my short-term future is a partnership between myself and the NHS or it is a dictatorial statement from NGH and the NHS.  I remain unduly anxious and the simple matter is that the current situation is not remotely good enough.

A lovely visit this evening from Vicky just as I was getting agitated with the nurse who wanted to delay any discussion about Vitamin D until tomorrow.  It is being delayed until tomorrow but only after a good 10 minutes of investigation into why no information has been forthcoming - the simple answer is my notes (the big thick file held at the nurses station) and the discussions I have had with the Geriatric Consultant are at odds!

Monday, 30 November 2015

Day 25

Goodness me here we are into another week.  Where does the time go to?  I am hoping that today we get to the bottom of the Vitamin D issue - it's a week day so everyone who can make decisions should be available and we can cast the thought of the 5 day-a-week NHS to the side for the next 5 days - I hope the proposed junior Doctors' strike can be averted but if it does go ahead I don't think the effect will mean any changes for me.

Nothing much in the schedule for today other than Physio and letting the hip get on with the all-important job of getting better.  I think my friend Ray Thorpe from Coventry may visit - makes me feel quite humble when I realise that Ray is prepared to drive that distance just to see me.  An e-mail from my sister overnight - she tells me she reads this blog every morning (NZ time) and wished she could come over and see me - I'd love to see her but it is an awful long way from the summer and lovely long days of NZ to the cold and short days of the UK in winter so the answer is she must stay where she is.  She can't influence my progress by being here. Meantime those who can and do visit more easily give me huge pleasure - thank you. There have been a couple of e-mails overnight from a very good friend which I hope will influence the clarity as to what the future holds.

Just jumped out of my skin.  The nurse on duty knocked (an understatement) and came through the door at the same time.  I must have looked a bit shocked because she said it was polite to knock - I agree but knock and wait; don't just knock (the door down) and fling it open.  In the 11 days I have been here no one else has knocked but they have been quieter!

Well I have just asked about the towel I have for showering - it is tiny and it's had a fair number of days of being used.  How do I get it changed I asked - oh you have to ask they said.  Why? Surely a towel should be changed as a matter of course.  Now I have asked we'll wait and see if it is changed. It all comes back to the fact that no one talked me through the processes and how they work here. I have struggled to make my own bed over the last few days because by 12:00 it is still unmade and I really don't want visitors to see my bed in a bit of a state - I am not sure, when I am reliant on one good leg and one fairly poor one that I should be playing storks and making a bad effort of making my bed. 09:30 - bed made and two new towels - I wonder if it depends on who is on duty?

I will wait with interest today to see if anything is done about my Vitamin D supplements. I am running a book in my mind and at the moment it is about 9 to 1 on that nothing will happen - I do hope I am wrong.

Just seen Ram the physio - he says I am progressing very well with the crutches (possibly putting a bit too much weight on my bad leg) and the only thing that is going to hold me back are my stairs. That's sounds really positive to me but I do understand the challenges of my stairs.

12:00 - Just had a lovely visit from my friend Ray Thorpe from Coventry - Ray thank you for taking the time to visit - it is much appreciated.

A bit more on the Vitamin D issue.  Apparently it has been crossed off my list of 'drugs' despite me being verbally told I need the supplement. No one knows why so I have asked the duty nurse to request the duty doctor comes over to explain the current situation.  Seems like another blood test may be the best answer.

Still nothing on the Vitamin D issue - not a jot. There will be nothing on the Vitamin D issue as all the Doctors from Cliftonville are covering the strike of Junior Doctors - what a fine mess we are in. I have had an e-mail from my insurance broker reminding me that the cover on my house and contents reduces to almost zero if no one stays in my house for one nigh in every 30 - we are on day 25 now. It's the kind of corporate clap trap I can do without at the moment but if someone stays just one night then it's roll back to zero and the count to 30 starts again - sounds like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory to me.  I have asked how I prove someone has stayed there - will they just take my word?  The lights come on, no water is stored, the heating is on - but I suppose rules is rules and anyway they can wriggle out an insurance company will.

I chatted with PALS today (Patient Advisory and Liaison Service) about the future. They are sending Amanda back to see me again tomorrow (I don't like seeing someone like this without someone else being there but they can't, they say, give me a time).  It still seems that the critical date is 14-December but I have still have no idea who makes the decision and if it is made at the fracture clinic or if there is a subsequent meeting later that week (oh probably not because it is too close to Christmas) - the admin really is a bit of a mess. It is also difficult when they ring me when I have visitors - no privacy - seems the cards are all stacked in the hospital's favour.

Anyway very pleasant visits from David Daines, Roy Sears and Roger Hasdell this afternoon.

My friend Ray, who came to see me this morning has sent me a lovely image of Towcester - owned now by Julia Cook coming out of Blisworth Tunnel sometime before the repairs started in 1984.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Day 24

Well, I don't think it has happened to me for 40 years, but I didn't wake up this morning until just after 7:30 - I am nearly always awake in time to have gone downstairs, made a cup of tea, and be back in bed to enjoy it by 06:15 so not to be compus mentus (well am I ever?) until after 07:30 is really quite an occasion.

Reminiscing on yesterday I thought my little part in the celebrations was lovely - thank you to everyone who organised it. And well done Sculptor for making it to such a venerable age when your estimated life span was probably not more than 30.

I had a lovely phone call yesterday from my friend (and former chiropractor when I lived in Woking) Callum Sibbald about the huge importance of Vitamin D.  Callum said he couldn't over emphasise the importance of Vitamin D for each and every one of us.  I shall see what the medicos suggest tomorrow but if necessary I shall purchase my own - I hope I don't need to.

Someone left a comment on this post about sunshine being a good supplier of Vitamin D.  I do spend a huge amount of time outside in the sun (when it shines of course) albeit I do, as a Kiwi, always wear a sunhat after having had a basal cell carcinoma removed 18 months ago.  I think as one gets older that one's ability to convert Vitamin D into Ceratonin can flag so may be that's the reason.  I'll check things out tomorrow and see what the story is.

A very quiet day today, I did find yesterday quite tiring yesterday mainly because I have been cuddled up in a warm hospital environment and yesterday was my first, for three weeks, out in the wet, cold and windy weather.

A lovely visit from Mikey P last night.  Mike is very keen that I eat properly once I am allowed home!

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Day 23

Lying here musing in the wee small hours about my diagnosed Vitamin D deficiency.  It has been identified since the first blood test, in A and E, that I am deficient in, amongst other things, Vitamin D and markedly so. I was told I would be given a Vitamin D supplement which I thought came in the form of a chewy pill roughly the size of a old penny which I am given twice a day but it now seems this is a calcium supplement. When the Geriatric (preposterous for me of course!) consultant visited during the week he again reiterated the need for Vitamin D and even spoke of a 50,000 unit booster. Well, when my friend Vicky visited last night, she was quick enough to ask the nurse what format the Vitamin D supplement was coming in.  It's not because it seems it was never prescribed. There were three professionals in the room when the consultant said I needed the supplement. As it is now the weekend that cannot be resolved until Monday.  Vitamin D has the nickname 'the happy vitamin' and the deficiency I have probably explains the anxiousness I feel on some days.

I am not best pleased that the supplement has not been prescribed and that as it was discovered it wasn't being prescribed on a Friday evening nothing can be done until Monday morning - this is the 5 day-a-week NHS that the current government is banging on about and that aspect has been brought home in no uncertain terms to me.

I have confirmed with Gabriella, today's duty nurse, that she remembers me being advised I needed additional Vitamin D but she also confirmed that it is not on my list of medicines to be given and they can't do anything until Monday.  I just wonder why there are two days in the week when errors cannot be addressed. People get ill (and get better) no matter what day of the week it is.

Now time to think about going to Stoke Bruerne this afternoon.

Just had the bandaging permanently removed so if anyone wishes to see my 'war wound' they only have to ask!

The new banner for Sculptor to
celebrate her 80 years - Lynda Payton
A lovely outing back to my beloved stomping ground of Stoke Bruerne today to help celebrate the 80th birthday of Sculptor, Canal & River Trust's Small Northwich former working boat.  Sculptor was delivered on 28-November-1935. We had a lovely cake and plenty of cups of tea (always a good thing) followed by a pleasant evening in The Navigation. Thank you to everyone who made the visit so special for me.





The banner above says:

  • Don't I look good for my age?
  • I was conceived on 29-December-1934
  • I was delivered on 28-November-1935
  • I am owned by the Canal & River Trust and looked after by volunteers from The Friends of The Canal Museum
  • I used to carry cargo for the Grand Union Canal Carrying Co and was a Fire Boat during World War 2
  • I helped maintain the Shropshire Union Canal for many years and came to Stoke Bruerne in 1986 as an example of a Small Northwich working boat