Pain

Sometimes I wonder how in the hell can my pain levels increase any more but they do, I never know how long these periods will last, could be hours, days or even weeks, and so far this episode is 3 days in and counting. It actually reached the point last  night,  I  was wishing that if  having your legs amputated was an option I would go take it.

I’m not making light of amputation or making a joke of it, I  have seriously thought of talking to my specialist about it, as I have heard of people having this done, though I believe it is very much a last resort. For me at the moment the doctor’s have gone as far as they can down the medication pain relief and nothing has even come close.

The pain in my legs has been pretty much 24 x 7 for the last 8 years and steadily getting worse, but at times like these I just feel like I’m going out of my mind. The pain just takes over and blocks everything else out, it makes it almost impossible for me to concentrate on anything, do anything, or even think straight. It’s taken so many tries just to write this.

It’s  also at times like this I  have to try and convince myself that maybe there will be a medical  breakthrough around the corner, it’s  a real battle to remain positive  during these times, but it still doesn’t stop the real dark thoughts creeping in at times.

Going crazy, but not quite there yet, take care,

Gary x

Father’s Day

What a great day, started off with a rare cooked breakfast, opened my cards and presents.

  • 3 x Chilli plants an Etna 5th hottest in the world apparently, Scotch Bonnet hot but fruity Jamaican chilli, and an Apache haven’t tried these before.
  • 2 x bars of Lindt dark chocolate.
  • Book, Eric Idles biography
  • A voucher to spend on Amazon.

Nice easy day relaxing. First I planted my newly acquired Chilli plants, after that I decided to stay  outside in the garden  with the dog and  carried on reading my latest ook of  choice  “Catch 22”.

Below is a picture of my selection of books, that I will be reading in no particular order.

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A varied Selection I’m pleased to say,

My Eldest daughter arrived home just after lunch, she’d been to a concert at Wembley arena last night to see The Spice Girls.

My Wife arrived home about 3:30 as she had been working in Hampton today, on the way home she picked up the fathers day family dinner of Pizza, fries, garlic bread and Dr Pepper, my pizza was called the Etna, hot’n spicy. Heaven.

My youngest daughter arrived home around 5:30 almost all my daughters back home, the middle one is at Oxford Uni and wasn’t able to get home,

So all in all a pretty good day, and I even got to see the Red Arrows display  team fly overhead in V formation to the local airshow, so low you felt like you could al ost touch them, and engines roaring as loud as thunder, bloody amazing.

What a fantastic day,

Take care out there

Gary x

Thursday 13th June​ 2019

A date I will always remember, and It was probably the nicest way for anybody to lose their job, and for me nice is good.

I’d known the day was coming since the middle of May. Since the day of the last visit to the hospital pain clinic, when the treatment they tried failed in helping to reduce my pain. It was nobody’s fault, the treatment just didn’t work for me.

At that point, I knew the wheels would be put in motion the have me released from my contract on medical grounds. this would be the second time that this has happened to me, the last time was 7 years ago.

What was different this time, well firstly I knew what was going to happen, and secondly, I have been supported all the way through the process by the people I work for and those I work with. At no point during the last year was I made to feel like a burden which, to be honest, didn’t surprise me in the slightest, I was only ever told that my welfare comes first.

I am saddened that I will no longer be going into work, and not working with my friends and colleagues, which is what I will miss the most. This time though I have not been cut adrift and left to find things out for myself because they are still looking out for me and helping me.

That’s why today I’m feeling so lucky and positive, I have so many people in my life now that I am grateful for.

Goodnight have a great weekend and take care,

Gary x

Oh, and I’ve started to write a true love story, one I hope to finish writing in the next couple of weeks, fingers crossed.

To infinity and beyond

The day is almost here, tomorrow will be a turning point for me. In the afternoon I will be attending a meeting with the HR department for the organisation I work for, the NHS,. The meeting is about releasing me from my contract on medical grounds, it’s all very amicable and I’m prepared, but, still it will be a difficult and sad time for me for  a while.

I  can say that without the NHS and it’s amazingly talented, hard working staff, I wouldn’t be around  today.  They have looked after me and my various longterm health conditions for 57 years now, I’ve been a volunteer for them for 7 years, they have employed me as an administrator for the last 2 years, and I have loved every minute of it.

I will miss the work, tutors, participants, the friends I have made in fact I  already do, as I  have been off work  for a year now. The coffees  and the chats will continue with my colleagues, if they’re not sick of me yet, and at some point I hope to be able to return to being a volunteer in some capacity.

I have already made plans and set goals on what I want to do, and how I will achieve them, I am feeling really positive. Exciting times ahead.

As the saying goes “one door closes and another on opens”.

Take care

Gary x

Life – Death -Feelings.

I’m  having a strange old time at the moment. On Monday last weeweek I found out my stepfather had died, he’d been diagnosed with an Auto Imune Disorder, but he died from a blood clot caused by all of the treatment he received just before be was going to be discharged. Now I  can’t speak for my brother or my step brothers but I don’t feel anything. From the age of 12 until I was 28 he was my step father but pretty much in name only, he was rarely home, spent most of his time at work. He was production manager  at PYE Records. When he was home he would pretty much keep to himself and listen to music with his headphones on, that’s how  I remember him, cold and distant.

When I was 28 he and my Mum separated and divorced. I won’t go into the reasons for the marriage breaking down because it’s not relevant.  I think in the last 29 years I probably  saw my stepfather once, at the funeral of his 2nd son and my younger stepbrother. I feel sad for my step brothers though, because they have lost their father which must be heartbreaking for them.

I guess now that I  have written it down and read it back to myself, I  understand why I feel nothing. It’s because  I never really got to know him, he never met my daughters, so I guess that’s why I never thought of him as a father, and that is why I don’t know how miss him, or how I feel about him

So why did I want  to write this down, well what got me thinking about it today, Monday, was that I had to go for my monthly blood tests because I take some very strong medication for my Auto Immune Disorder. I wanted to write it down, so I could make sense of it in my head, and I’m glad I did as writing it down has really helped me to understand why I don’t feel anything g towards him, and I’m okay with the answers I found.

It’s just gone midnight, in the early hours of Tuesday morning. It’s my youngest daughter Erin’s 21st birthday today, the balloons and the banners are up, the presents and cards are laid out, tonight will be dinner with the family, the weekend just gone was all about partying with her friends. So feeling pretty proud and happy at the moment. My other 2 daughters will be 23 and 25 this year and I’m very proud to, this year is also my 25th wedding anniversary which also makes me very happy, all in all this year is going to be a good year .

Where the hell does the time go?

So in the words of  the truly great, Bill and Ted, “Party on dude”

Take care

Gary x

School Daze

I grew up in Mitcham, in the London Borough of Merton. My mother was Irish, Roman Catholic, my Dad was a London boy and slightly Church of England, which meant, of course, my younger brother and I were going to be raised as good Roman Catholic boys. Our first school was called St Peter & St Pauls Roman Catholic, Primary School. I would say it was your typical RC London school, too much religion for my liking, but hey it was what it was.

As I said it was your typical school. We had the guy who would eat a worm or a spider for a dare, there was the girl who would always do handstands and show you her knickers for the price of a sweet, and the kid who would always pee himself in the classroom because he was too scared of the teacher to put his hand up to go to the toilet because he was embarrassed about asking in front of others9that must have been tough). We even had a few of the 7/8 yr old kids who used to smoke behind the bike shed(this was the late 60s early 70s after all).

I was one of the quiet, awkward kids, who didn’t seem to quite fit in, I didn’t want to be noticed, hated being the center of attention, crap at sport, always one of the last to be picked for the football or rounders team, unlike my brother who was an excellent footballer and always one of the first to be picked for any team.

As a result of my awkwardness, quietness and constantly being off school sick I had a definite lack of confidence, friends, and my social skills were rubbish, it was also a time for me that would have a big impact on my relationship with the Catholic Church and it was called first Holy Communion, I hated studying for it, I didn’t want to do it and it turned out to be my first step in moving over to the dark side of moving over to atheism, for me the big battle would come when I reached 12 yrs old, the church and I were never going to be friends and 50 years later it’s still not for me, my Mum was never happy about my  lack of love with religion but she eventually came to accept it.

When I was 8  my parents divorced, this was a traumatic time for me, I didn’t understand what was going on, I never asked my brother how he felt about it, and I even started thinking it was my fault. Then our dad moved out and I turned into the antichrist, my brother and my mum became the focus of that anger.

By the time I’d started St Thomas of Canterbury, middle school, religion and me were on very thin ice. One of my teachers was a nun. If have you ever seen the nun in the film the Blues Brothers, she used the same punishment a rap across the knuckles with a wooden ruler which bloody hurt, her Maths lesson was always intertwined with religious stories which meant I would just switch off. I guess this was my first real experience of bullying, the next was the PE teacher who was a really nasty piece of work.

Now I know I keep referring to my poor health and at this time of my life, my egg allergy  caused fairly regular visits to St Georges Hospital, my chronic Asthma which would cause several bouts of Bronchitis a year and would put me in St Hiliers Hospital at least once a year, usually during the winter, cold air and London smog do not mix well.

Anyway back to the PE teacher, it was a really cold day, and very smoggy , My asthma was playing up, so I had brought a letter into school from my mum, to excuse me from cross country running, which was held on Mitcham Common, what this man did to me scarred me for the rest of my school days especially when it meant doing sport. After the teacher had read my mum’s note, he threw it in the bin then marched me into the gym in front of the class, he sat down put me across his knee pulled down my school shorts and slippered me with my own plimsole, whilst telling them I was a poof and a weakling for letting my asthma stop me from running which actually helps asthmatics, this was a mixed school so what he did was beyond embarrassing.

It was my final year at St Thomas’s, I was 12 yrs old and I had to do my confirmation after much arguing and fighting with my mother I went through with it, I had to or I wouldn’t get my new Blazer. I hated doing it, then the next day everything went bang, I was dragged in front of the Headmaster for laughing in assembly during the Lord’s prayer, I don’t know what started off my fit of giggles, but I just couldn’t stop. I was called into the headmaster’s office who was standing there with his cane in his hands, then I blurted out I hate God and I hate religion and I hate this bloody school. That was the last RC school I ever went to thankfully.

For my Last year living in London, I got to go to a school of my choice, Eastfields High School, a dream come true, Instead it turned into a nightmare, I ended up in the hospital and at home for 3 months because of my asthma. At 13 I moved with my family to West Sussex, for my sins, I had to go to Forest Boys Comprehensive school, I was told I wasn’t allowed to carry on with the subjects I had chosen the year before German, Art and general Science, instead, I was put into Drama, Geology and Social Economics.

As it turned out, these subjects were undersubscribed and there were no sets, I liked the teachers, funnily enough, I did well in these classes and got two of my highest grades. As  for my main subjects, my grades weren’t as good as they should have been, though that was partly down to the teachers who weren’t really interested in those students who weren’t in sets 1 or 2 in Maths and English, and partly down to me having finally given up on a school system that had given up on me.

But it didn’t stop me going to college, It didn’t stop me from traveling the world for 15 years in an amazing job, going to fantastic places, seeing some awesome sights and meeting some truly wonderful people. I have also finished my working career as I will soon be released on medical grounds from a totally amazing job within the NHS.

Everything has worked ok in the end, no grudges, no regrets.

I just want to be clear I don’t hate any religion, personally, I don’t think that religion would make me any better as a person, but if it helps you if it’s your thing That’s good.

“Carpe Diem”

Party on dude,

Gary x

Music Vs Pain

Over the last 3 years, listening to music has become one of the main tools I use to help with my pain, I can use it to help me relax,  or to carry out certain tasks by distracting me from the pain, tasks such as driving short distances, reading, writing or tending my Chilli plants.

I have built up a wide and varied selection of styles and band’s that I like to listen too, so selecting the correct band/music is very important, as my mood, pain level and task are all factors in selecting what I will choose.

For example, travelling by Bus, Car or Train I have a specific selection of bands that I would choose from, such as – Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Queen, Nickleback, Counting Crows, Garth Brooks, First Aid Kit, The Beach Boys, The Mavericks or The Beautiful South.

For more leisurely pursuits such as reading or writing, I have a different selection that I choose from that consists of – AC/DC, Kiss, The Carpenters, The Clash, Elvis Presley, Fleetwood Mac, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, The Vaccines, The Stranglers and 30 Seconds to Mars.

As you can tell a nice easy listening selection for an ageing heavy metal rocker like Myself. Here’s the proof with my passport picture from 39 years ago, 18 yrs old.

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I know what your thinking, did his parents really let him go out dressed like that? Sadly I haven’t aged so well.

Rock Star or what?

There has been a lot of trial and error in putting together my playlists which has been so much fun, as well as being important to me so I get the results I need.

One last thing though, is I have to remember to set an alarm on my phone to make sure I get up and move around, otherwise, I could end up in a lot more pain than I started with,

Good luck if this is something you decide to try.

Take care

Gary x

Scary Stare

The Wife has been collecting items for The Ingfield Manor Fete, which is this weekend. Unfortunately, there is one item that has me a little spooked the item is a 3/4 size stuffed toy, Lion.

Personally, I think the damn thing is possessed it is laying on the sofa to my Left, which means every time I turn to the left to look into the garden it’s right there in front of my face staring at me occasionally I forget it is there and almost have a damn heart attack.

So here is a picture of the view I see.

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I’m thinking of calling a priest in to carry out an Exorcism. How did this become a child’s cuddly toy? It looks more like Scar than Simba.

Have a great day and don’t look at the picture for too long.

Take care.

Gary x

EPP ​Volunteer Lunch

I enjoyed a very nice bucket of black coffee this morning at a garden center restaurant near Littlehampton, It was so nice to catch up with the EPP office crew minus Danny, sadly, and as it was volunteers day so it was great to catch up with some of the volunteer tutors, it was really good to see some familiar faces and a shame that everybody wasn’t able to make it.

It was good to rest the old vocal cords today and just listen to others for a change, as I commented to my Guv’nor. It was a great chance to hear how everyone has been keeping and getting on with the courses whilst I have been on long term sick leave. I even got to enjoy a bit of people watching for a while, which happens to be one of my favourite pastimes. The only problem was nothing really happened in the restaurant worth commenting about.

And last but not least, it was great to see Treacle the medical alert dog today, so glad he was able to come along, although when I got home I could tell that my dog wasn’t happy with me.

Thanks for chauffeuring me around today Sue, it was very much appreciated and great to catch up.

Karen thanks for organising today I really enjoyed myself, I think the new office pens are a wonderful colour and the logos are inspired.

One last thing I have finally got my first Physio appointment on the 24th  June 2019.

Take care

Gary x

Travelling

So in a previous life(1989 – 2007), I was lucky to have a few jobs in that allowed me to travel the world, meet some amazing people and see some amazing sights, and I got to do it all before I got too sick.

USA:- California, Colorado, New York, Vermont, West Virginia, Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon, Florida, Missouri, Massachusettes, Idaho, Maine, Texas, Pennsylvania.

Japan:- Tokyo, Nagoya. Fukuyama, Mito, Hitachi.

Hongkong

Taiwan;- Taipei, Tainan, Hsinchu, Kaohsiung.

Singapore:- Sentosa, Clarke Quay, Orchard Towers, Newton Circus, Tampines

France:- Grenoble, Corbeil-Essonnes, Paris, Lyon, Callais.

Germany:- Berlin, Dresden, Erfurt, Munich, Frankfurt, Leipzig, Freiberg, Chemnitz, Cologne.

Holland:- Nijmegen, Hengelo, Eindhoven.

Ireland:- Cork, Limerick, Shannon, Galway, Claregalway, Clifden, Dublin, Leixlip, Maynooth.

Israel:- JerusalemAshkelon, Ashdod, Kiryat Gat, Tel-Aviv

Italy:- Rome.

Switzerland:- Geneva

Canada:- Montreal.

I was very lucky I had the best job in the world, I got to do so many things, see so many sights, try so many different foods and cultures, so many good memories, so many photographs so many pamphlets, tickets, old passports and memorabilia saved. The best about being away was catching the flight home to my wife and kids.

This is why it is taking me a while to complete my memory book.

Take care

Gary x

I Can’t Unsee That.

Have you ever had one of those moments when  you’ve thought “Now I’ve seen that, I can never unsee it”. Well I had 2 instances like that today.

I was in town buying an Anniversary card and I started to head off home across the town square to get back to my car. Now, when I walk, I walk slowly with my head bent down slightly due to neck pain, then every now and again, I’ll look up to make sure I’m I not going to walk into something.

Anyway back to the story, so I was walking across the square when I looked up and the sight I beheld made me cringe inside. On the bench about 10 feet in front of me, was a lady. I’d say she was about 80 years old and she was reading the paper, I know your thinking that’s not so terrible.

The trouble is she was wearing a knee length skirt with her knees were very far apart and wearing no tights or stockings just bare white flesh. That sight is now burned into my brain and I’ll never be able to unsee it. I just hope she didn’t see the look of horror on my face.

I carried on across the square and made my way to the alley that leads to the car park, I could hear footsteps behind me which, sounded like high heels and whoever was wearing them made it sound like they were in a bit of a hurry. I’m not surprised as I’ve said before my walking is pretty slow these days. Then as we emerged from the alley this woman shot past me,.

she was a tall blond lady wearing a fur jacket and pale leather trousers. Now, it was a hot day and even at my slow speed I was perspiring. I don’t know if any of you have ever heard the noise that slightly sweaty skin makes when you sit down into a leather chair, move in it or get up out of it, well it sounds like a wet fart and that’s the only way I can describe it. So if you put together a hot day, leather trouser’s and perspiration you get the sound of a loud wet fart, it means every time her thighs brushed together you got a loud wet fart on rapid fire, it’s a sound I will never forget, I know I should have felt sorry for her, but I was too busy wetting myself laughing and I so needed a good laugh.

take care

Gary x

 

Writing – Changing

The purpose of this piece is for me to get used to writing, so hopefully the more writing I do the better I get. I’m sure there are many spelling mistakes and grammatical errors as you read through this but this is about learning and finding what kind of writer I’m going to be, so all of your comments will be of great value. In September I start a 10 week creative writing workshop, hopefully, I will have figured out how to use the spelling & grammar checker by then. So please be kind, be brutal, but above all please be honest about what you think.

Title:- Changed

Last weekend I started reading the biography about an Idol of mine, comedian & Film star Robin Williams. Reading it brought up emotions of sadness because he’d died & happiness because he made me & the world laugh. The very first time I saw Robin Williams was on the tv show Mork & Mindy, it made me laugh so hard I would have tears rolling down my face.

In the book many people were saying he was a comic genius, a legend, a star, I think he was just bloody awesome. He was one of those actors whose films would always cheer me up, they would always make me smile and laugh especially when I was feeling down. In the book people he performed with said he was an amazing guy to work with, he was always trying to make people laugh on set, always willing to help fellow cast & crew out & always helping those in need & those less fortunate. One example of his compassion reported that he would always insist that any of the films he worked in must always hire a number of the local homeless population to work on the set.

After reading the introduction and all the comments from his friends, colleagues, and family,. It moved on to tell his story. It started with at the end of his story with talking about his death at the age 63 & by the end of that first page I could feel a lump in my throat & could feel tears welling up also. I remember feeling the same way when his death was announced back in 2014. It made me think about a film I had recently seen; it was a documentary called RobinWilliams – Inside My Mind. It had its funny moments but was filled with heartbreak & sadness, he was an amazing human being, full of energy and laughter, but it showed he was also just a man who had his own demons & flaws such as drinking, drugs, anxiety & depression.

I got a bit distracted again at this point & started thinking about my own demons, my own long-term battle with my crappy health, depression & anxiety. So I decided I wanted to get my own story down on paper to bare my soul so to speak then share it on here.

Here we go.

I’ve pretty much had poor health since birth, though my battle with depression & anxiety didn’t start until much later(obviously). In fact, it started around the same time as the bullying I was experiencing did. I was about 11 when the bullying started firstly because I was rubbish at sport & didn’t feel like I fit anywhere, then it got worse when I got my girlfriend who was of Sri Lankan parentage even though she was born here. the verbal abuse from both British Asian kids & White British kids was equally as bad & it even got physical a few times. Going through school was the worst for verbal.

I was 13 when my family moved from South London to West Sussex, not long after the move, my episodes of depression began to get more frequent, I hated the countryside back then, I hated moving away from my Grandparents, I didn’t like my stepfather and I missed London, I became a right little shit (so I’ve been told). Around the age of 16, I started drinking and smoking, not a lot but I started, then after I’d had a teenage meltdown, I was sent to live My Father & Stepmother for 2 years by the age of 18 my drinking & smoking had become very heavy in fact I had turned into a drunk but not an alcoholic. It was also at this I met a girl who would eventually become wife even though over the next 5 years I was an absolute shit towards her, yet she has never gave up on me (madness, even I’d given up on me), but this year will be our silver wedding anniversary,  25 years ago was also when I also cut down on the drinking.

Then 13 years ago I quit smoking & drinking altogether which ended up being a stroke of luck because 6 months later, I was made redundant from a job I loved, the company was closing down and moving back to the good old U.S of A, one good thing to come out of this time was the bullying was finally over.(I was bullied for many different reasons over the years, in fact, I think I must have had the words bully me written on my forehead).

About 18 months after the redundancy a tragedy occurred that affected me badly. There was a serious road traffic accident. On my way into work at  new job one morning I came upon a serious road traffic accident, there were 3 of us that stopped to help the people in the 2 cars that had collided, we had to try to get the man trapped in the first car out,  one of the guy’s broke a rear window so I could crawl halfway into the car to hold the trapped man’s head steady, talk to  him and stop him from hurting himself even more, at the same time the guy who had broken the window went around to the other side to try to gain access through the other door but with no luck, the third bloke stayed with the other driver trying to keep him calm.

The Police, Fire Rescue, and Paramedics were pretty quick, I explained to the paramedic what was going on with the injured driver whilst I had been with him. The police asked the 3 of us that had tried to help to wait by our cars to be interviewed individually. About 20 minutes after our statements a police officer came across to us and told that there was nothing that could have done to save him, that he had died from his injuries. He advised us that we should all go home due to the shock of what had happened. We drove off & the next thing I remember was sitting in my van outside the house. As I opened the front door I saw all the dried blood on my arms and hands, I looked up saw my wife then I just broke. I can’t remember how long she held me for, but I am so glad she hadn’t left for work. For the next 6 months, I couldn’t leave the house, I couldn’t even open the door, I’d also lost my job & it took me a long time to get over it.

For the next 18 months, I spent my time doing a lot of volunteering on conservation projects. I worked outside with a group of people with similar health problems, it was exactly what I needed to get better, getting back to nature and working with my hands again was the medicine I needed & it helped me find myself again, it helped me recover enough to look for another job, things were finally getting better.

8 years ago my physical health started to nosedive again, I began falling over at work, I was in constant pain, I was becoming forgetful & at times confused. Now, those of you that knew me back in my drinking days are probably thinking, hmmm sounds like you’re still a pisshead Gary, the problem was I had been off the sauce for 12 years(not fair). I saw the GP who sent me to a Rheumatologist who in turn diagnosed me with Fibromyalgia. None of the pain killers they tried me on came even close to helping with the pain. The GP then sent me off to see a pain specialist. I was told it was unlikely I’d never work again, that my life as I knew it was over & I would have learned new ways to do things I was then released on medical grounds from the company I worked for.

After all this I started to feel that I was losing control of my life, that nothing was under my control anymore, my anxiety & depression were rising again, my physical health was getting worse, there seemed to be very little out there to help me cope with what was happening, I started attending CBT courses, 3 in fact one after the other to try and help me cope, but it just wasn’t for me. My mental and physical health were spiralling downwards & I was having some very dark thoughts. I was getting really scared.

Then on a visit to a medical drop in centre I overheard 2 old dears talking about a free NHS service called the Expert Patient Programme which helped people living with long term health conditions to live better. I had never heard of it before but thought I might as well give it a go, if it had worked for them maybe it could help me. So when I got home I contacted the service and got myself booked onto the next available course near to where I lived. I wasn’t very confident before I went as nothing else had worked for me, Then I thought what did I have to loose? I turned up for the first session of the 6 week course, it would be 2.5 hours 1 day a week for 6 weeks. As I walked through the door I remember thinking, what the hell am I doing here? But as the course got going I remember thinking it felt very different from anything else I had done & asked myself again, is this really going to work for me?

After all the introductions we learned that the tutors were also living with their own long-term health conditions, they had all been participants & completed the course themselves. They said they’d gotten so much out of the course they decided to become volunteer Tutors, I mean volunteers, wow that really struck me. Another thing was they talked to us, not at us, they were engaging with us, not judging us but asking us to give it a go, after all, they were living proof that the service worked. So after I left that day I decided I would go back for week 2.

The things the tutors were saying to us made sense, the coping techniques they demonstrated actually worked. The tutors came across as positive, compassionate, and understanding people who got us, they really understood what we were going through, it showed us we were not alone, and it showed me it was ok to smile and laugh without feeling guilty. The change in me was massive and quick, by week 3 my wife was telling me she couldn’t believe the difference the course was making, I was more confident, positive & happier, that I was talking and laughing more. So on week 4, I plucked up the courage and asked if I could become a volunteer tutor. Now public speaking was some really scary shit for me, I knew I would be well outside my comfort zone.  But 4 months later I finished my training and 6 weeks after that I started delivering my first course. I loved it. Since then my health has had many ups and downs.

But the main thing was I had my various families to support me, there was my wife and 3 daughters, my brother and his family, my work family & my fellow tutor’s & participant family. Then 2 years ago a dream came true for me, not only was I a volunteer tutor but I was also working as the Expert Patient Programme Administrator, it was a job I loved & life was good. Then 11 months ago my health decided to nosedive again & I was placed on long term sick leave. I’m still off sick now but in 3 weeks time, I will be going through the process of being released on medical grounds. This time though things will be different as I am far more prepared this time. I have been looked after supported & helped by my friends at work & my family at home, which includes my lovely Dog Dora.

I’ve started making a long term plan, which is to become a writer, what type of writer I will be I don’t know yet, but I’m enjoying the journey now that it has started, with all the reading writing and blogging I am doing these day’s I know one day it will happen.

There really is no way to thank all the people in my life who have helped and supported me over the last 8 years, but I love you all because you have all helped me arrive where I am today.

So now it’s on to the next chapter fo me although I will still be looking forward to coffee with the boss and volunteering in the office with my colleagues when I can. There’s no chance of work getting rid of me completely I’m afraid. The Service is known as EPP for short but is also known as the Living Well Course. If you like the sound of it & fancy giving it a go, make the call you have nothing to lose & everything to gain, it worked for me after all. I’ve written this in the hope that my story may help some of you.

Take care

Gary

Ok, so I am going to go a little bit Hollywood now &  thank some of the people who have helped me get to this point in my life.

So First to my Mum who never gave up on me even though I could be a right little shit(apparently), Thank you to my long-suffering wife Tracey, to my 3 yes 3 beautiful grown-up daughters Sian, Keri & Erin who’ve put up with my bad sense of humour on a daily basis. I’d like to thank my workmates Karen the Boss & Natalie (aka Danny Dyer) & Sue the co-ordinator’s who’ve had to put up with me being such an awesome administrator in my opinion. To all the amazing tutors & participants I have met along the way & last but not least some good friends, to Marion who was also my mum’s best friend We should meet up for a coffee soon, to Shelly & Ian who helped me get through the first couple of years and introduced me to the lovely Jenner & Ken who allowed me into there lives, I know I’m crap at keeping in touch & I need to rectify that.

Finally, to all those, I have not mentioned but are just as important.

Thank you all so much.

And finally again, a big thank you to Robin Williams for making me laugh, for making me cry, for being a hero to me & whose story has inspired me to write this piece.

Day 6, My First Attempt

The next post will be my first attempt at writing, if you have the time please read through it and let me know what you think about it, honesty please.

I want writing to become a big part of my life’s reading has. So I need to start sharing, I need to start getting pieces written and out there for all to see.

The first piece I have written how my life has changed over the last 7 years and how I have I have become the person I am today. A pretty positive one.

A little heads up on what I am living with health wise these days. I have allergies to eggs, fowl and peanuts. I live with anxiety, depression, Asthma, Type 2 Diabetes, Osteoporosis (spinal damage), undiagnosed MS (Spinal cord liaison), Neuropathy, Tested positive for Sarcoidosis (in remisson) and to top it all off Fibromyalgia.

What Do You See?

 

What do you see, when you look at me?

Do you see a man with a different way of thinking for getting form A to B,

Or a different way of physically getting from here to there,

Do you see the labels, disabled, crippled, broken, second class, scrounger,

I don’t want to be like this, I don’t want you to think like that,

Being different like I am is not a way of living we choose,

Being different is about choosing how we live because we are this way,

If I need help, I have learned to ask, if I don’t I have learned to say No,

And we must be polite when we do so,

We need acceptance for who we are, to be respected, to be equals,

We need love when we feel down, understanding when frustrated,

Friendship when lonely, and need help when we can’t manage,

We have the same likes such as, sport or reading or going to the beach,

And the same dislikes, taxes, racism or not being in charge of the TV remote.

We also have likes

The occasional beer and a pizza, a Larger and a nice hot ruby,

(a Ruby = Ruby Murray = Curry)

the chance to go to a concert or see a  film at the cinema,

everyone needs there relationships,

Someone to love, to laugh with, to cry with,

And those that get us and see past the differences,

For some our differences are visible, whilst for others, they are not so much,

But it’s okay to ask us about our differences, we don’t bite unless you want us to,

So don’t be a stranger, come and say hi, just try not to stare it’s not very nice,

Don’t pity us, understand us, don’t blame us, get to know us,

Were as human as you, with a little bit extra, or a little bit less,

We laugh, we cry, we live, we die, we also have a wicked, even dark sense of humour,

Please don’t dismiss us, or ignore us, do not pity us, or feel sorry for us,

Listen when we talk, understand what we need and help if we ask, please,

But we must also do our part,

We must listen when you talk, understand when you need, be a friend when you need,

But communication cut’s both ways and both way’s must get better,

We’re really not that different if we only take the chance and let each other in,.

We’re all only human after all.

 

Practicing my scribblings I hope you like, not sure it could be classed as poetry, I just needed to get it out. (The words that are, not anything else), see Humour.

Take care

Gary x

 

 

Day 4 Wheels

Damn the pain is crazy bad today in my neck and spine, legs are like jelly. Definitely  having a crap morning, overdid it yesterday.

It ended up as a wheelchair day today, I know I need to be using it a lot more these days. I just need to stop thinking about how others will look at me. I was the same when I started using a stick. Stupid I know but I can be Bloody stubborn at times

Shock horror, using the chair worked, I was able read a large part of the book “Writing the damn book” which I’m pleased about, and I ended up getting down loads of ideas, possible titles and a couple of mind maps. So it’s ended up being a really productive day. A small step closer to writing a book myself.

Take care

Gary x

 

Day 3 The Nature Reserve

Another beautiful sunny day

Ok, so today is a me day.

Dora took me for a short walk this morning, luckily she walks even slower than I do which is a plus. I loved every minute of it and even though the walking part is agony and I know will pay for it later. I’d planned for this and to me, it’s worth the extra pain, to do something I rarely get to do anymore. I really loved going for daily walks with her back when we could both manage it. Anyway, we made it back home in one piece and sat around in the garden, me drinking coffee waiting for my books to arrive and Dora sleeping. Exactly what we needed after the walk.

Books arrived, can’t wait to start reading them.

Once the wife home from work, I got my camera gear ready. She’s going to drop me off at the local nature reserve on her way into town.

I have a bit of a ritual when I  go to the reserve before I do anything I have a cup off coffee and a small packet of Jelly Babies.

Once the refreshments were out of the way I made my way to the hide to observe nature. I just love sitting there overlooking the large pond watching the birds that were there Heron’s, Coots, Terns, Great Crested Grebes, a Cormorant, and some seagulls.

What caught my attention though was a pair of broad bodied chasers (Dragonflies) one blue the other yellow. They were chasing each other backward and forward with brief periods of mating whilst flying. Now I love photographing dragonflies though it’s not easy as they are so damn fast I managed to get a couple of half-decent ones, which you can see below.

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With about 30 minutes to go, I made my way back to the cafe, it was too late for a coffee so I went over to the chicken coup that they have to take a couple of chicken pics for my youngest daughter who loves chickens. I think the came out ok.

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So now it’s blog time then bedtime, I’m completely knackered.

Bring on tomorrow a day of reading, writing and relaxing,

Take care

Gary x

A good day

Day 2 of the journey#

Good start to the day managed to get through e-mails and twitter in record time this morning and I was able to get yesterdays blog published as I had misjudged how long it would take last night, lesson learned started earlier tonight, result

Out in the garden again updating my journaal listening to kiss (the band not the radio station) and the coffee is tasting good.

Not sure what is going on, police with there blues and two’s on racing down the A29 to Adversane. Now there’s a police helicopter flying around overhead. Popped to the shop to get a coke zero and saw a van load of coppers heading towards the A29 as well,  police helicopter has been up there for about 40 mims now.

Heard later there was an armed robbery in one incident and in another incident a woman was killed in a road accident on the A29 at Adversane.

Managed to finish the book “Get Your Sh*t Together” reccomend it to everyone. Tomorrow I have a new book arriving, called “Write the Damn Book” for creative people who have a hard time finishing things. Very apt for me.

Hoping to go to the nature reserve tomorrow with my camera, I love going there because it is so peaceful and the cafe make a nice cuppa coffee.

onwards and upwards, let’s see what tomorrow brings

Lets be careful out there

Gary x

 

 

Day 1, The Journey Begins.

For the last few months I’ve pretty much been drifting along like one of those tumbleweeds you see in the movies. Thing is at some point in the next month I will be given notice due to illness at my place of employment and it s all very amicable.

so about a week ago I started reading a book that I got for my Birthday. The book is called “Get Your Sh*t Together” by Sarah Knight. Now I have plenty of experience in setting long term and short term goals, but I’d lapsed, no motivation, lots of things I wanted to do, but I had turned into the great procrastinator, I couldn’t be arsed.

Anyway the book has given me the kick up the arse I needed to start making plans (about bloody time) for my future, to live heathier, earn a living and make time for doing the things that I want and need to do. The book is humorous, uses a lot of profanities about the serious subject of planning for the future, writing lists and setting goals, the perfect book for me, I reccomend it to anyone.

GOALS

Long term – To earn a living from writing and to lose weight

Short term – Create structure in my life by using weekly timetables. The timetables will be further broken down into daily tasks of what needs to be done and what I must do  by prioritising  each task.

I feel really positive and confident that I am doing this the right way and for the right reasons, the main ones being it’s what I need to do and what I want to do.

Ok, day 1, The journey begins. 23/05/2019

I  booked myself onto a creative writing course starting in September 2019.

Went down the village collected my bag of medication and got my haircut, two birds with one stone.

Researched helpful websites, subscribed to a YouTube programme, joined a couple of mailing lists and purchased a couple of books.

ME TIME – sat in the garden with my dog Dora, sunshine on my back, the sound of tmany birds singing in the trees and jotting ideas down in my journal. Perfection and one of the most important tasks on my daily timetable.

After lunch I met with my Boss, we went for a coffee and a chat about my impending  release from my job on medical grounds and chatting over my plans for the future.

It’s been a job I’ve loved doing with an amazing team of people. I can truly say I will miss the job and miss working for the NHS. It has been an honour and a pleasure, and I will definitely be keeping in touch with my workmates.

After getting back home from meeting up with my boss I took a bit of time to reflect on everything  we had spoken about, I updated my jornal whilst sitting in the garden with my dog who laid there fast asleep cooking in the sun pretending to listen to me, this is not being lazy but me making sure I don’t overdo things,  today was a good day, which has helped me feel a little more positive for the future

I am going to make a blog each day with updates on my progress, as I  think this will be a good platform for me on my journey, writing about my plans, my health and any situations and observations I encounter. The aim will be to publish my blog at the end of each day.

Be kind to each other, please leave comments and criticism’s, always appreciated even though I can’t guarantee I will act on them

Gary x

Choices

Something that was said to me on Friday got stuck in my head and it niggled away in the back of my mind over the weekend.

Then I saw a film yesterday that struck a chord with me and with the comment that was made on Friday. The film was called “Choices”. Now I wouldn’t normally watch a love story, but the wife and eldest were watching it on the tv.

At this point I would just like to say that these types of film are not my guilty pleasure.

Anyway, the film had a very strong message, not just about the love between two people but also about choices. It doesn’t  matter how big or how small the choices we make are, because for us as people they can both be life altering.

This morning I started reading a new book, it is helping me think about why I have made the decision to make the changes I want and need in my now.  The book I am reading is called:

Get your sh*t together

How to stop worrying about what you should do

so you can finish what you need to do

and start doing what you want to do

By Sarah Knight

Though this book has a serious message, it is explained with a lot of humour and a lot of swearing, which I find refreshing and easy to grasp, because of that I know this will help me with the process planning the next steps in a way that makes sense to me.

It seems that these occurrences  over the last 4 days are probably the universe telling me to get of my ar*e and get on with it.

I know it is something I am passionate about and I know that is what I want to do, I have many questions to research to find the answers I need and I also to get some advice from people I completely trust.

Watch this space

Go well

Gary x

Birthday #57

So Friday was my birthday I’m now 57 yrs old. I don’t feel that old mentally, I still feel as daft as I was when I was in my early 20’s, but physically things have not gone so well I feel about 107.

The day started off pretty well, a few cards and presents from the family, a few books that I wanted, a bit of lindt dark chocolate, a tee shirt and tickets to go and see Harry Potter World when I’m feeling a little more up to it.

After everyone had gone off to work, Dora decided she wanted to go on one of her rare walks, damn near killed us both, but still enjoyed it as it’s not that often we get to do one now.

Then after getting home it was time to get ready as I was going out to lunch, meeting my work mates at Pizza Express, good food, great company, good laughs and excellent presents, cinema vouchers and a bottle of local “Silly Moo” cider. Been so long since the 4 of us were in the same place together.

Friday evening was spent eating popcorn and watching another present I got from my eldest, a DVD called “Bad times at the El Royale” excellent movie, by the time I got to bed I could barely move, but after having such a wonderful day I really didn’t mind though as Saturday and Sunday had been earmarked as rest days.

Saturday was spent mainly in the garden with Dora sleeping beside the bench and me reading the latest book I’d bought “Made in Scotland” by Billy Connolly, and watching a fantastic FA Cup Final between Man City and Watford and the best part of Saturday was I didn’t have to watch  Eurovision, result!, pain levels were ridiculously high but a good day in all.

Sunday got off to a painful start, eventually got downstairs the Mrs went off to work and I went into the garden with a coffee, Dora and my book, should hopefully finish the book today.

So the wife is home now from work and my youngest is on her way. Tonight is Takeaway night as it was my birthday Friday  and so I will be partaking of a Lamb Vindaloo, Pilau rice and a garlic naan.

All in all a damn good weekend

Thank’s everyone for the cards, presents, company and birthday wishes you all made the weekend a good one.

Party on dudes

Gary  x

Yin & Yang

These days my blog’s seem to be like London buses, you wait for for ages  then two come along at once.

I woke this morning in agony,my legs are the worst they have been in a while, standing, sitting, walking or liying down is making no difference at all. So far today my go to coping techniques are not helping, as when the pain is this bad I really find it had to focus or concentrate. The music will be going on soon but reading todaywill not be happening.

My Thigh and calf muscles hurt like hell, but at the same time seem to have turned to jelly, my knee’s, ankle’s and feet are screaming at me and the only way I can describe the pain in my shin’s is by comparing it to having a  toothache deep within the bone.

On the plus side though I am sitting in the garden with Dora, the sun is shining and the birds are singing, the new wind soinner we have looks fantastic in the breeze. So it’s now time to make a coffee, put the Foo Fighters on, use the wheelchair as much as I need to and try to relaxas much as possible before my medication review with the GP this afternoon, I guess you could say I’m going to behaving a yin & yang day today.

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Have a great day and enjoy the little things, Gary x

Changes

It’s been a little while since my last post.

Things are starting to change change for me at this time due to my ongoing health conditions, my time working for the NHS, a place I love to work with people I love to work with. I think I will miss this part most of all.

Hopefully though I will still be able to volunteer for them in some capacity my health permitting as the service is very important to me.

This morning was my formal meeting with the HR department to formalise the next step in leaving, a very friendly and amicable meeting, now I just wait for the next meeting and the final decision.

Back home now, feeling a little flat as this is the start of a door closing on a very happy part of working life. I will still be in touch with and involed with EPP so at least I still have that side but I will miss the work.

Anyway the sun is shining and I am ing the garden typing up my blog whist the lovely Dora chases rabbits in her sleep on the lawn, I was horrible and woke her up for the picture then she immediately went back to sunbathing and chasing rabbits.

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I’ve known my leaving the NHS has been on the cards for a while now, so I have started making plans.

Firstly looking after myself and being more assertive, saying no when I need to, by listening to what my body is telling me.

Secondly is just enjoying the moment, living  one day at a time. Doing things I love listening to music, reading a book, waatching the world go by listening to the sounds in my garden (Though this does not include the sounds of my neighbour’s arguing, or the many children screaming shouting or fighting)

On a football note West Ham won there last two games of the season and finished 10th COYI and Brighton managed to stay up by the skin of there teeth. Though I do not support The Seagulls myself good luck with finding a top manager for next season.

This week it’s my Birthday, I can’t believe I will be 57 on Friday and will resist the urge to eat baked beans that day. I think it is true what they say that when you have kids time speeds up as my daughters will be 25, 23 & 21 this year yet in my head I still think I’m 32, the year I got married to my wife, the year my eldest was born  and luckily I was a lapsed Catholic for obvious reasons. I’m guess what I’m trying to say is grab life as tight as you can and wring the life out of it and I consider myself very lucky that, that is what I have always tried to do.

Finally I just want to say I have finished reading  the latest 2 books, the first is called “Why are you pretending to be Normal” a book I’ve read before, but have found to be really helpful, it’s about living with disabilities and impairments, learning new ways of looking, thinking and talking about them, the stories techniques are from people who are already using them to live there lives

The second book is called “This is going to hurt” Secret diaries of a junior Doctor by Adam Kay. The book made me laugh so hard at times I had tears rolling down my cheeks, his sense of humour and compassion shines through but ultimately left me heartbroken.

everybody that has used, will use and does use our amazing NHS should read it and reccomend it.

Thank you for listening to my ramblings

Remember live, laugh, love but don’t, live, love, laugh or your partner may get annoyed with you.

Love you all, take care, Gary

Just for good luck  COYI.

 

 

Frustration

One thing I know for sure is that strees will make my pain spike to the point it will make me feel physically sick.

That is the point I  have arrived at today, normally  I’m pretty good at handling  my stress levels through medication and CBT techniques.

Every now and then this fails me as I am only human.

Today I had to call my pension provider to discuss my pension, it is this process that has caused my stress levels to rise to a point where I wanted to explode. I did raise my voice with the final person I  spoke to but luckily did not swear.

So I  phoned  my pension provider today around 11am, firstly I went through the automated security questions then was put on hold, finally spoke to a human and asked the security questions again, she asked why I  was calling.

I was then told I had got through to the wrong department and she put me through to the correct department at least she said it was..

Back on a lengthy hold, finally spoke to another human, went through all the security questions for a 3rd time, explained why I was put through to them and was instantly told I had been put through to the wrong department again, she said she would let the correct department know I had already answered the security,

Then was put on hold for a long time, finally spoke to another human being, who made me go through all the security questions for a 4th time, I asked my question but things had become a little heated by this point but i managed not to swear.

So I was put on hold yet again while she made some enquiries, after at least 5 minutes she got back to me, I apologised for getting angry and told then she told me they were sorry for messing me about and for all the waiting, then she told me I now have to wait at another 7 to 10 days before things sorted.

What is it with financial organisations treating our money like it is theres.

As I  hung up the phone after spending 30 minutes on hold and 15 minutes talking to someone I had the urge to scream, shout, yell and cry all at the same time.

So writing this and drinking a coffee is the first coping mechanism for when I get stressed, the next step will be to put on some music probably the Foo Fighters or  Now that’s what I call driving Rock. Then tonight read som more of my book.

Take care.

Gary

“East of Croydon”

Just finished reading the book “East of Croydon” by Sue Perkins.

What an amazing and beautifully written book, I have to say I was hooked the moment I started reading it. The way it’s written just draws you in and makes you feel you are right there with Sue on location, just without the smells , it’s written in such a way it that you feel that Sue is talking directly to you personally as you accompany her on her adventures.

Reading this book has been an absolute joy, it’s made me laugh out loud, it’s made me quietly shed a tear when no one else was looking. A wonderful thing  it has done thouugh is remind me how much I love reading books and re-ignite my desire to read more.

Thank you Sue Perkins.

I am really looking Forward to reading her book “Spectacles a memoir” which I hope to get for my birthday so while I am waiting I will be reading a book that has been reccomended to me called “The Secret Barrister, stories of the Law and how it’s been broken” described by the Observer as Terrifying……..Hilarious………Eye-opening. Writen by?

ISBN 078-1-5098-4114-1 Published by Picador.

Enjoy the rest of the May Bank Holiday

Look after each other, all the best, Gary

Endgame

Spoiler alert ” there are no spoilers in this post”

After resting for 2.5 days, I went for a coffee at the Cafe in the Park in my nearset town. I got there around 2:30pm and sat outside the Cafe drinking a very nice coffee, the sun was shining and I started to read my book “East of Croydon”, I then put on my  headphones listening to The Stranglers greatest hits, every now again I would look up  from my book and there would be a squirrel rumaging for food or a robin sitting in a Branch singing. Perfection, best medicine in the world.

So 3 o’clock arrived and so did my smiling boss, unfortunately that was the moment the sun decided to go in. So we moved inside to the Cafes conservatory to drink our coffee and talk about my health, football and the forthcoming meeting with our  HR rep, about how and when my being released from my job on medical grounds will be decided. Now I am very sad about what is going to happen, as I love my job and the people I work with. There is no bad feeling on either side and I really hope my health is going to  allow me to volunteer in the office.

Endgame

To say I was excited about what I was to do next would be an understatement, I was about to tick off another item from my bucket list. A trip to the Cinema to see Avengers Infinity war : Endgame. Luckily it wasn’t  going to be a packed cinema due to it being an afternoon showing on a schoolday and I managed to get an aisle seat Row G. Everything was set perfectly, the advertisments finished, the trailers began, the anticipation was rising.

Then just as the film was about to start two late comers arrived, they started walking up the aisle. Now the seats are quite small and there isn’t much leg room, hence the need for the aisle seat,damn they were sitting in my row so I would have to get up, so before I was fully standing they pushed passed whilst muttering “sorry” as I dropped back into the seat.

The film stareted everyone went quiet then I heard tose words you dread in the Cinema “scuse me”, it had only been 10 minutes, again never quite got to my feet before he pushed past, back I dropped, then repeat sequence 5 minutes later whe he got back from the loo.

Relax , deep breath, back to watching the movie, 30 minutes later repeat the sequence but it was his mate this time, one of the things that I really had a problem with was the absolute stench of smoke and beer

Relax, deep breath get back towatching the movie again. 20 minutes pass and I start to her a really strange annoying  noise, after about 10 minutes I realised that guy nearest me had fallen asleep and was snoring, this went on for about an hour  when he suddenly woke up and stared to pee into his empty drinks bottle, I relised they were getting up again so as fast fast as I could( which is close to watching somebody move in slow motion) I tried to stand up and get out of the way, no chance they caught my left leg as they ran past, so I fell back over the arm of the seat, landed with my backside on the seat and my legs and stick still sticking over the arm and out into the aisle, before I had sorted myself out they’d legged it through the door and were gone never to return, carried out a quick pee check to make sure I hdn’t been splashed in  all the confusion. then……..

Relax, deep breath and an extra strong mint this time, then settled down to watch the rest of the film. Wow the film lived up to all my expectations and more, I would reccomend it to everyone whether you are a mavel fan or not.

So all in all another blooming good day.

In the words of  Police Seargant Phil Esterhauss from the tv show  Hill Street Blues

“Let’s be careful out there”

all the best, Gary

Ps When I said the sun went in when my boss arrived, I wasn’t inferring that she was the cause of it going in. I needed to may that clear. She’s a little ray of sunshine really 🙂