What Doesn’t Kill Ya Makes Ya Stronger

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Tagged in james' blog

It has been six months since I put prodder to key pad, and to those of you who have missed the ramblings of a once reasonable mind apologies are due in abundance, together with some sort of explanation, which follows. But first, Happy New Years are due all round, as we look forward to the excitements of the coming few months: the accession to power of the new President of the United States of America, and at home, Mrs May dragging us either kicking and screaming or celebrating back to independence from the European Union. It is going to be an exciting time for us all.

Now to the explanation for my absence from the website: it goes like this. In March 2015 we drove to Buckinghamshire and back on the same day to attend the funeral of my last surviving and very dear Aunt. The journey there and back took about eight hours. The following morning, during the course of the normal routine, my angel Pulse carers detected a sore place on my sacrum (I will save you an exact description of this, but it is essentially the part of the body upon which you sit). For the next eighteen months, directed by the District Nurses, we tried a range of different treatments for what could be a pressure sore or possibly a moisture lesion. All treatments were perfectly administered on a daily basis by my team of angels. The sore came and nearly went and came again, and so on almost ad nauseam (but that would probably be an inappropriate pun!). During that period, the annual trip to the Osborne Unit at Sheffield, my alma mater for rehabilitation, was missed twice due to other difficulties. However in August last year, we decided to make the journey come hell or high water, as progress was negligible on the dear old sacrum.

The Osborne Unit at the Northern and General Hospital in Sheffield is a place that can only be described with one word – wonderful. Staffed by people from the Clinical Director downwards, who have a profound and holistic knowledge of the care, treatment and rehabilitation of people with spinal injuries, it is a place for which we can only be hugely grateful, as are the other spinal injuries units around the country. My Consultant took one look at my sacrum and said: “James this is a pressure sore. The only way to cure it is bed rest. You may sit up for fifteen minutes for meals three times a day, apart from that you must lay on your side with the weight off your bottom and you must be turned every two hours”. My enquiries regarding the duration of this regime brought forth the reply that it was difficult to be definite, but it would certainly take at least two or three weeks to heal. Carrying on as we had was discussed briefly, but it became clear that this would not be favoured by the Consultant. Sometimes it is best to know when to shut up!

We returned home, my tail between my legs at the thought of spending so much time doing nothing in bed, and the extra work this would make for my angels. But, looking to a brighter future, we all embraced the new regime. Up for a shower, back to bed, flipping sides every two hours, and re-sitting the iPad so that my brain had something to do; all this done with infinite care by my angels.

As usual, the Sheffield advice proved correct and the problem began to resolve. So we carried on week after week after week. Three weeks came and went, and slow but certain progress was being made. It’s probably a good thing that the Consultant made a carefully planned understatement of the healing time. Anyway, by the beginning of October, a mere seven weeks into this adventure, we started taking bets on when the final day of healing would be. Some of us thought it would be 12 October and others thought that was a little ambitious; it was the sort of thing that William Hill or Betfair should have opened books on. This was probably the most speculated about bum in the country - certainly in this part of Suffolk. Anyway, to cut a long tale short, close up date was finally 26 November, with a couple of subsequent moments that took us more or less up to Christmas. Thus three weeks can morph into sixteen weeks.

112 days plus a few more is a marathon for a care team looking after one person, flipping him every two hours, and making sure that no other pressure sores arise from lying on hips or shoulders. If you do the math, you’ll realise that’s over 1,300 flips. The result is perfection, and to say that I am grateful for all the care and attention is a major understatement. My angels have been wonderful! In fact, while discussing a matter of botany a few days ago following the gift of an Orchid, it occurred that the appropriate name for my girls is bottomists (in the nicest possible way of course)!

Finally, I must tell you that after seven years of looking after me in my care team, Nicky Ukpanwani has gone on to greater things. During this time she has had a second son, and put herself through a University course to become a fully fledged Social Worker, shortly to be working for Norfolk County Council. Her two boys Kamse and Kido are a complete delight and her husband, Denis, has just landed his first job as a qualified aircraft engineer working at Stansted airport. What a tremendous family! I wish them all the very best. In the meantime Nicky’s older sister, Lisa, has become office manager for Pulse having started working for them in my care team six years ago. I have not lost them all because their Mother, my original carer from Sheffield days is here with me. I feel quite justified in saying “thank God for the Bloggs”.

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