Thursday, November 27, 2008

It's just a THRILLER!!

Helen's blog today includes this lovely photo of her grand-
daughter Odele who lives in Ohio. This email is from earlier this year, hence the reference to January.
clippy mat :-)

Hi All:
Just a bit of stuff to bring you up to date as to what's happening with moi.

I recently saw a stroke counsellor cos I was very depressed & having a bad time getting my act together after Christmas, January is a very depressing month I feel. She felt that John and I were cooped up together too much and needed to get out more so she told me about this group which gets together on Fridays from six to eight at the East End pool, Byker. It's called Different Strokes but anyone with a disability is made welcome.

I was initially very apprehensive about going to this stroke club cos I'm not very good at communal stuff (too free thinking, bolshie & individual!!!) but they seemed a very pleasant, if disorganised, bunch and made John & I very welcome when we sat down, although this was a little weird too.

We sat down together and a number of the group got up to come over to talk.

As they were all stroke survivors they all had various levels of disability and approaching us en masse as it were, they closely resembled the limping Zombies in Michael Jackson's Thriller video, which was a little unnerving to say the least!!!

Each one had the same opening gambit too i.e. "When was your stroke? Was it bleed or clot? I had mine x years ago." Then went on to describe their various ailments/disabilities.

Good to see how others have coped and adapted to surviving stroke & disability in general. We were introduced to a lovely blind woman, a nurse who gives alternative therapy treatments, so I'm booked in for an aromatherapy massage, hot stones treatment & a reflexology session and its all free!! Its also available free to all carers too!

We were shown around the wonderfully equipped gym area, which we have anytime free access to. Tuesdays 11.00-12.00 Different Strokes have sole use of the pool, where the water is all one level with a flat bottom, no slope, so no deep end if they want to deepen or alter the water depth. It's done by either raising/lowering the whole floor of the pool!! I don't have to attempt getting into a cozzie either cos most people wear shorts/t-shirts. That's always a bonus.
It's good to have an outlet, somewhere different to go and to meet others in the same situation I suppose.

Much love,Helen

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Listen with Mother

Time to introduce Helen's readers to 'Mother.' Helen's mother is a real character. In her 80's but going very strong. Widow of a farmer and staunch pillar of the Catholic church, attender of weddings, funerals, and othersuch events which require her appearance in her best hat.
Every Sunday they spend the day together and Helen always updates the f.o.t.h.s with an email of events. We love to hear of their goings on. I am sure you will too. This email is from this summer during the Olympic Games.
She calls these epsiodes, 'Listen with Mother' named after a radio show for children which was popular in the UK in the 50's and 60's.
Clippy Mat :-)
Original Message -----
To: Carolyn, Katie, Vee, Pat, Mary
Sent: Sunday, August 17, 2008 1:57 PM
Subject: Listen with Mother

As these things so often do, my Sundays down at Mam's have fallen into a regular & companionable pattern. I get there about 09.45 with the Sunday papers.

I give Mam the large magazine with the TV listings etc. from Saturday's paper, which she eagerly grabs, turning immediately to the soaps' update page to discover what is going to happen this week in The Archers.* (a radio soap opera which has been running on BBC since the 1950's).

Unfortunately she then proceeds to read this aloud to me, despite my weekly informing her that I don't watch any of the TV soaps and haven't listened to the Archers since I lived at home and it was compulsory listening for her & Dad.

She chooses to ignore this and the fact that by now I am usually struggling helplessly & hopelessly with the tightly sealed protective plastic wrapper with which the colour supplements are bound (it should be noted that this particular newspaper ran a campaign to rid the UK of plastic carrier bags!!)

As I have to use my teeth to get this bliddy thing off I am also often choking at this juncture on a piece of torn-off plastic bag. Eventually, noticing me choking/turning blue she goes off to make me a drink, which she always serves in a huge cup resembling a French style breakfast coffee cup, wide across the top, so it cools quickly, which is great because I don't take any milk (i.e. a helpful coolant). My coffee is always accompanied by a sweet little jug of cold water (just in case I might burn my gob) and whatever little delicacy she has discovered this week (today it was mini gingerbread men - sadly not homemade this time).
Now she gets down to the serious stuff; i.e. what shopping/bus/weather disasters have befallen her this week, plus a lengthy, in-depth update on her sister's health situation. I feign interest while perusing my magazine, with murmurs and head nods at relevant and regular intervals. Then I begin the crossword and make the fatal error of asking for her assistance on a clue I'm stuck on; "Abraham's son - Jacobs father?? "

She's usually good on religious/bible matters but this one stumps her, so off she trundles to her bedroom and after 15-30 mins of rummaging, returns breathless, red-faced and somewhat dishevelled. She now needs to use her inhaler, which is unfortunate cos it makes her gabble like buggery and revs her up a notch from 45 to 78rpm. Then mother proceeds to give me a good half hour's bible lesson/reading as she is shocked that I don't know my Old Testament.

I mollify her by telling her that the young Irish priest who used to give us Religious Instruction at school told us not to bother with the Old Testament cos it was only for *proddies, (non catholics/protestants) and not meant for the minds of good Catholic children!

We did eventually discover the answer to my crossword clue, thankfully. I mention the above because it is a family joke: when stuck for anything, recite Mother's mantra on the subject "Look it up in the dictionary/encyclopaedia/ atlas" or other such tome of reference.

She's right of course, but as cheeky young kids stuck on their homework we found this constantly-used phrase hilarious - such a simple life down on the farm eh!

Then Jonathon arrived and I got the best laugh I've had in ages. It was Fiona's birthday midweek and Mam rang me for her address so she could post off a card. Mam had left this message on my phone and when I rang to give her the info I got her answerphone and taking great care with my pronunciation and diction (or so I thought) I gave the address as # Shape Mews (which I carefully spelled out) Blyth, Northumberland, followed by the postal code.
What Mam heard and put on her envelope was #Shape Views, Five, Knockabout + postcode.
Knockabout?, Knockabout?, I ask you - this from a woman whose eldest daughter & family i.e. yours truly, lived in Blyth, Northumberland for over twenty bliddy years, and whose youngest daughter & family still live in Blyth, Northumberland, and who knows that her grandson & his girlfriend also live in Blyth, Northumberland!!!

Jonathon was laughing so hard he could barely stand as he showed me the envelope, he played back my message on the answerphone to her and there it was, the whole address as clear as anything.

Now I know my voice has been badly altered by the effects of the stroke but I didn't think it was all that bad!! that my own mother doesn't understand me!

While she went off to knock up a batch of Yorkshire puds, we put the Olympics on and started to watch the men's badminton final. Mam stuck her head around the door and asked Jonathon who was in the final? "China and Malaysia." he told her. "Who flung dung against one san shoe who beat wun hung low in the semis."

Quite happy with this info, off she went with a knowledgeable nod of the head while I kicked him under the table for being so cheeky to her & taking the mick. Later she asked me if I didn't fancy taking up badminton again. "What from me *pram?" (*wheelchair) I queried "Well you could go in for the panalgesic games." she told me.

You might think we are a cruel lot having a pop at her little idiosyncrasies like this, but I can assure you that she always joins in, gets the joke and laughs at herself just as loudly as we do!

When Fiona called to collect Jonathon she said that Mam's envelope faux pas had actually cheered up a rather gloomy wet day and that she'd had such a good laugh with her own mother about it and later with Jonathon when he got in from work that it had quite made her birthday a really happy, laughter-filled one.
Now who could ask for more?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Never a dull moment.

Original Message -----
From: Helen
To: Pat
Cc: Carolyn, Katy, Vee and Mary.
Sent: Tuesday, September 02, 2008 2:53 PM
Subject: Gym gyminny gym gyminny, gym gym gyrree!
Back to the grind today!
Got onto the treadmill fitted with front holding bar especially for those such as me that need to hold on.

I was doing ok until Mr Fit got onto next-door treadmill and started going for gold! I couldn't take the competition so let go of front bar to grab side rail, from which position I can reach the controller if I really stretch my fingers. Unfortunately I missed the button to go up a speed notch and hit the stop key by mistake, so the treadmill abruptly stopped dead and almost threw me off.

I wobbled about for a bit, much to Mr. Fit's great amusement, then he realised I was in trouble, so he quickly, and very sweatily came to my aid (although he was struggling to control his mirth - the megafit swine).
I recovered over a cup of coffee and piece of much-needed dark chocolate with Lorraine my trainer, (she of the Angelina Jolie body but sadly not of the face). She lectured me most severely about going on the equipment unsupervised and as I sat chastened and remorseful (cos she would've lost her job if I'd been hurt) the door burst open and in flounced (or rather stomped) one of the herd of hippos who sit in the cafe all day, exercising one arm each and their jaws, as they eat their way through the menu!
She took up a furiously indignant arms akimbo stance in front of us and regaled Lorraine in a voice that could summon all the elephant herds on the African continent - I cowardly slunk low in my seat so she could channel her vituporous fury towards Lorraine.

It seemed that apparently the Alpha Hippo (A woman of such mega proportions that she would make the Russian shot putter team look anorexic!!!) had accused this indignant one of making a racist remark towards her (Alpha Hippo's) son.

"Me!!" she snorted pointing at her chest "Me?!" she shrieked again, now at least at 130 decibels. By now all pretence at activity in the gym had ceased and it was deathly quiet "I've never made a racist remark in me life. I've got six kids and they're all different colours!!!" she trumpeted triumphantly then she turned and stomped off, crashing the door behind her.

Lorraine hastily filled in the blanks for me:- it seems that this woman has a penchant for Mediterranean holidays where she meets men, only working in order to afford to get away regularly, and apparently returning from each sunny sojourn with a considerable amount of extra baggage, the result being that her six kids all have different fathers!!

Not much work was done in the gym after this show stopping performance, with the exception of Mr Fit who was doing his impressive press-up routine using the gym-ball and heavy weights. Suddenly the ball burst and Fit, weights, ball remains, baggy shorts & all collapsed in a very undignified heap on the exercise mat.

That'll teach him to laugh at me! I thought smugly. He was unhurt but suffered a severe dent to his pride as I, and all other observers, guffawed loudly; tee hee!

Bit concerned at this cos my physio has assured me that these balls have built in safety devices to prevent such bursts, might think twice before using mine at home again, maybe Fit had over pumped it or something. Will keep you informed

No I did not make all that up, although it may not have happened in exactly that order.
There's always something going on.
Can't wait to go again on Friday.
Love to all,
Helen x

Monday, November 10, 2008

On the 11th day, of the 11th month, at the 11th hour.

We watched the Remembrance Day Parade in London on TV yesterday with Mam, either standing to attention singing the National Anthem, i.e. God Save the Queen, or waving her hankie and singing Rule Britannia, or saying a prayer with tears streaming down her face.

Bless her. It was very moving as always to watch those proud old men and women to whom we all owe so much and I couldn't see the TV picture for my own tears.

There are now only 3 men living in the UK who served in WW1 trenches; each of them over 100 years old now, and each of them there, proudly wearing their medals.

In TV interviews with these guys they all stated that, not only were they proud to have done it, but they had a very clear and strong reason for having gone to war in the first place, unlike our currently deployed troops who, in the main, haven't a clue why they are fighting in Afghanistan etc.

Am I awful for being very grateful that my adored son is not out there with them? I cried through the whole of his pass off parade, I was so proud of Jonathon that day.

This photo was taken not long after I had my stroke. I have come quite a long way since then. It was an emotional day for more reasons than one.He later told me that none of them had marched along with a band until that day and that as soon as the band struck up and they began to march all he could hear from the guys around him was the sound of sniffing, their emotions were so great. He's in the front row directly under the clock, NB: their commanding officer was a woman!! (I hope this picture will enlarge when you click on it.)
The other pic is with me & Mam and all still crying!
My Mother was too young to have been involved in WWII but she does remember seeing dogfights in the skies while she was going to school in Sunderland.

Giving thanks for all those who have, and all those who do, serve.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

dear f.o.t.h.s

From: Pat
Sent: Friday, October 31, 2008 11:38 AM
Subject: blogging
some questions for you.
if you had a blog what would you call it?
would you want to be anonymous or known by your first name at least.?
would you include a picture of yourself in the profile?
if you had music on there which songs would you pick?
would the title of your blog have anything to do with your stroke.?
would you let me make one for you and post your stuff on it?
i was thinking of posting your news, emails, lunches with ma, gym antics, stroke recovery stuff etc etc. what do you think?

tell me what you want, send me a pic of yourself that you like (if you want to include one) and write some stuff 'about me' (as in "YOU" not me) that i can post on the profile page and i will take care of the rest and send you the link and the password.

you can be as personal or as private as you like.

i will post your stuff on there for you until you are comfortable with doing it yourself (if and when) . you will be the owner etc. and it will be YOUR blog, but i'll just be your admin assistant.
let me know how you want it done.
pat xxx

Dear Admin Assistant,
OOer! That's a lot for me drug - addled brain to think about:- Thanks for the offer of help in setting up same. Not sure about name for blog but am happy to have my name used in whole or part, I'll have a think and try to come up with something good/snappy etc. Will send a recentish photo asap I think the last ones I had taken were with y'all at Syd's. Somehow I don't think I can avoid it being stroke related!! What about using a tweaked version of that F.O.T.H.S. write up you did as a sort of intro of me n you/our relationship. Other than horspittal related stuff I've not much going on at mo though!! Pretty Boring to read about all that!

Will have to have long hardthink about music as I love so much but its all old. OOh this is exciting stuff.

Just been browsing your blog for ideas to nick!! Cos I'm lazy and I'm too vain to just want a recent pic (all too ghastly) I want a before n after so folks'll know I wasn't always this way!! (Going for the sympathy touch here)
Here's a good one of me skiing. Oh happy days. I loved skiing so much.

Here's a couple of emails from Helen. A sample of some of what she writes about on a regular basis. These are about her visits to the gym where she does her physical therapy to increase her mobility.

Sent: Tuesday, February 05, 2008 10:55 AM
Subject: Gymee crack sore and I don't care
Hello Dear Foths,
Well I'm sitting here with a sore bum and aching back after a heavy pedalling session in the gym this morning. They were well impressed with my progress since last being there. I climbed onto the bike & pedalled like buggery without having my left foot (there's a film title in there somewhere!) strapped to the pedal as I used to have to do.

Now I can control it and actually use it to pedal; not just let it be pushed around by my right foot doing all the work. So I did a good 15mins with which I was very chuffed. I did a few other exercises, some using my arm too and am going back on Friday if not too creaky.

I feel so much more positive too!
Chow for now me dearios.

(in this email helen is referring to my trying (trying being the operative word) to give up TV for lent this year. when she says, 'i bet Mary did better,' she was referring to the fact that f.o.t.h. Mary is a very good woman and when she says she will do something she sticks to it, unlike clippy mat, who has no backbone.)

Sent: Thursday, February 28, 2008 6:28 PM
Subject: Just a quick Ketchup
Dearest f.o.t.h.s.
Pat, I've just read your latest bit o blog - it answers many questions I was about to ask you- Atonement I haven't seen the film yet but I almost threw the book out of the bedroom window. I much prefer fast-paced quick-witted & lively writing (have you read any Wendy Holden's chiclit stuff Azur like it (Cannes anything be this Nice) Pastures Nouveax very English style of writing of the moment!
Yep I'm with you, give me a Roddy Doyle, Frank McCourt or Bill Bryson any day although the Wendy Holdens do make me smile & oftimes chuckle at her clever phrases and use of Franglais.

Have to admit I'm shocked and appalled at your Lenten debacle!! Where's yer backbone woman! Its lovely to know that despite the thousands of miles atween us you're sat sitting there watching the same tv crap as me!!
I loved Glen Close inDamages too. Best thing that's been on here in ages, I'm thoroughly sick of all these talentless 'Search for a Star' programs & the crappy 'celebrity' reality shows that are the mainstay of British tv just now.
'Celebrity Strictly dancing / 'Celebrity' Big Brother, 'Celebrity' Dancing on ice all with minor Z-list celebs & wannabees.
Happy reading!
Bet Mary's done better for Lent!!!

Katie Kaka cleaner upper: hope that situation has dried up now. (helen is referring to f.o.t.h. katie here. you will meet them all here eventually.)

That's all I can do folks as am mucho tired:- had physio this a.m. then hair wash n blow dry (by sis) & at-home massage courtesy of Loraine the Alternative Therapy nurse. So busy. Pamper day for me thought of you all working so hard tee hee

Love ewes,Helenxxxxx

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Where do I begin?

In the 10 years leading up to the Millenium I think I went through several of the top ten stress inducers:-

Bereavement, 3 times;
(A favourite Aunt, a close friend, and a dear sister-in-law; all to cancer)
Redundancy (twice)
Moving Home (3 times i.e. Helping out my parents then my son and then lastly, Myself)
Empty Nest
Marriage (my own 2nd)
Early retirement due to ill health

Little wonder then that I suffered as a consequence with a near fatal stroke in 2004, due to which I missed out on a very Special 35yr reunion of my college friends.
(We were all to turn 50 in the same year).

But while they were having a ball in New York & Canada my 50th took place in the ICU of our local hospital. This came as a tremendous shock as I felt very fit at the time and was fairly active too.

I will tell you later how it came about.

This bit is supposed to include a picture of me when I was on a much loved skiing holiday.
So you can see what an adenturous sort I am.
Unfortunately my Admin. Assistant is having a problem saving it from its original source to copy it here.
I might have to reduce her wages.

For now, here is another picture of my lovely daughter, Claire and my granddaughter Odele. They live in the U.S. and I of course am in the U.K. so we don't see them as often as I would like.
This picture is from a visit they made to see us all and we were on a day trip to Newcastle.

Please come back as we will be updating often.
Thanks for reading.
I hope you will leave me a comment and I will have the secretary sort them out for me.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

First Blog. Hello from Helen.

Welcome to 'Tellin's from Helen.'
My name is Helen.
And I'll be doing the telling.
Pleased to meet you.
I will be blogging about my life and my adventures, the ups and the downs, and hoping that you will be interested and, hopefully, entertained.
If you like you can check out something about me here on my old friend, Clippy Mat's blog.

I'm married.
I have a husband and right hand man.
I have children.
I have a granddaughter.
I have a very interesting mother.
I had a stroke, four years ago, the year I turned 50.
These days I work hard on my recovery and my life has changed in oh so many ways. (As the Beatles said.)
According to my friends, I have an acerbic wit.
I find humour in lots of things.
I struggle with many things which a lot of people may take for granted but I try very hard to not let it get me down.
I have a lot of things I want to say.
It's hard to get it all down because since the stroke I have to type with one hand.
This from a former secretary and administrator who has typed more bumf than many people have had hot dinners.
I email my friend Clippy/Ruby, and the rest of the f.o.t.h.s. a lot.
She will put up my thoughts and musings on this blog for me.
The writing is all mine.
She's just what I like to call, "My Admin. Assistant."
The picture at the top is me flying in a micro-light plane.
That was one of the things I used to love to do.
I hope you will come back often and read about me and my life, loves and laughs and my road home to recovery.
Thanks for stopping by.