25 Years

 

The 17th September was my 25th wedding anniversary, damn I looked good back then, what the hell happened? The Mrs hasn’t changed though.

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I’m so lucky to still be with the woman I fell in love, and still love with all my heart.

As a 25th present Tracey got me a silver Claddagh ring from a store called ‘The Great Frog’, on our wedding day Tracey gave me an antique gold claddagh from Galway.

Sorry about the hairy hand , should have combed it first.15700481248549133919374187270440

Then on the 19th September as part of our anniversary, we set off for a long weekend, to the city of Edinburgh. The city where my grandmother was born, grew up in, and was Married to my grandfather.

We stayed at a fantastic hotel called Motel One just down from the castle.  The city was more beautiful than I imagined it would be.

We visited the Castle and the Royal Mile,

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thankfully there are lots of coffee shops to rest along the route,  Tracey got to look around the shops, not my thing though, so I sat in a coffee shop and people watched.

We also took a bus tour, and stopped  to see the botanical gardens which were beautiful, lots of places to rest.

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Next stop was the Ocean terminal, where the royal yacht Britannia is berthed, so we did the tour , the yacht is fantastic and there is so much history, plus they have a working cafe on board, where you can get afternoon tea, being your typical Englishman I had a black coffee, whereas the wife who is a little more sophisticated had the afternoon tea option, which consisted of a small pot of English breakfast tea, a scone with a small pot of clotted cream and a small pot of jam, then to top it off , it comes with an Edinburgh pink gin. She will kill me for posting this picture.

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My God how many chins have I got now? Don’t answer that.

Once we arrived back at the hotel it was time for some refreshments, only the one though🍺 , the tartan pattern is very close to that of our family tartan.

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This spot was also the perfect place for a pint of cider and some people watching . Continue reading “25 Years”

Good & Bad

So over the last couple of weeks there have been a lot of changes going on, some good some bad,  but mainly good.

Got to meet up for coffee and a chat with my old boss Karen which is always a plus. Also got to meet up with one of my fellow volunteers, Ian, it was great to catch up, have a bit of a laugh and drink coffee, and also managed to to have a coffee and a catch up, with Sue, I used to share the office with her, and we talked about my possible return to volunteering again in the new year.

Thats three pluses.

The wheelchair archery I  started last month is going really well, I’m so glad I decided to  do it,  there also a great bunch of people, at last a bit of a sociaal life.

That’s two more pluses

As for bad news, well I’m dealing with the jobcentre, even though I cannot work, I’m  being hounded by the DWP for a current fit for work doctors note, even though the one I  sent them says I have been signed off work indefinitely, and today a 20 page capability for work questionnaire dropped through the letter box, oh joy. Though I  will now be getting Employment and Support Allowance for a year.

So that’s two big negatives.

The car got damaged, a foot long gouge along the top of the rear wheel arch, courtesy of one of the neighbours kids on his bike. More costs.

 

Another big negative.

Got more hospital tests happening on the 16th, so this could be a plus  or a negative, will have to wait and see.

West Ham have now won there last two games.

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That’s another two pluses. The pluses win 7-3, gotta love that.

Take care,

Gary x

 

 

 

 

That Friday feeling

So this Friday was a good day, andeven though things have been a bit rubbish lately, I  was still able to enjoy myself.

To start off, it was a beautiful sunny morning. So I  enjoyed my coffee in the garden with the dog.

Next I went for a haircut, which I have always found to be enjoyable and relaxing, except when I was a kid, I hated it then, I had a good reason though it was called Alopecia.

I also had a very nice lunch of French bread, and some homemade Leek & Potato soup, which I’d made the day before.

Afterwards it was time to be taken out for a coffee by one of the nicest people I know, I  always enjoy coffee with a friend .

But little did I know my day was about to get even better, I got home from coffee in a good mood, but the  missus was a bit stressed, so I suggested we go to a garden centre near Worthing so she could return something she had bought. The good part of the trip though was when I  suggested we go somewhere nice for dinner, just the two of us, so we went to “The Worlds End Pub”, the food was amazing as was the company.

It was date night, yay.

Remember the little things do add up.

Take care

Gary x

Struggling

In the last couple of months I have written a lot of stuff down, unfortunately I haven’t been able to finish more than a few of the different pieces.

It all starts off fine:

  • Theme – ok
  • Title – ok
  • Lots of ideas – ok
  • Start writing – ok

Then:

  • Not happy with what I’m writing
  • Questioning the subject
  • Questioning  why I’m even writing

I know there are a lot of things going on in my life right now, and there are many changes happening some are really big ones to me and  some are extremely stressful.

My moods are also up and down at the moment, not extreme swings but enough for me to notice. Being able to concentration for any length of time has gone out the window, and my depression my physical health, are also not playing fair.

One big issue I’m  having, is that my coping and distraction techniques are not working too well at the moment, such as reading, writing, photography and music. My archery does help whilst I am shooting but once I’ve finished shooting, the worries and stresses return.

I’m sure that once things settle down and I get some structure and normality back into my life things will start returning to normal.

Take care

Gary x

Finding my MoJo

So, for a while now I have been having a bit out of sorts and having a weird feeling that something was missing, that something was not quite right, it also meant I couldn’t ask anyone for help as I didn’t know what sort of help to ask for.

 

So today I decided I needed to get out of the house and blow the cobwebs away.

I went to my nearest town centre and visited one of my favourite coffee shops The Panino Café, the sun was shining, and a cool breeze was blowing, and the flowers smelled amazing.

So, sitting in my wheelchair outside at one of the tables, I started one of my favourite pastimes, people watching. After a short while, I started getting the urge to write, and so I did.

 

As it is Sunday today, the town was not too busy which was good because I was in my wheelchair, which makes it a little easier to manoeuvre. The main problem is Horsham Town centre has a very uneven paved surface and many areas of cobblestones, which means it’s pretty tough going. Looking on the bright side of things, it hopefully means ill end up with biceps like Thor (I can dream).

Next visit though I should probably go with someone, as I’m finding that I’m not really fit enough to be allowed out on my own yet. A bonus in going or meeting someone would be to just have someone to chat with, and also to push me for short periods, when my poor old arms get tired (lol), and also it would mean that I don’t overdo things like I did today, but you live and learn I guess, and as far as wheelchairs are concerned I’ve still got a lot to learn.

 

But now I’m using the chair a lot more and with me starting archery soon, I’m hoping that ill develop his pecs as well and lose the “Moobs” or man boobs, I can live in Naïve hope.

Well, its good to know that I’m still feeling pretty positive and that my slightly weird sense of humour seems to be hanging on in there, just. And that is probably a good thing as I have just bought a “F*ck Boris” t-shirt. which I will wear with pride.

 

Whilst sitting here, watching, writing and drinking delicious coffee, I’ve had a Eureka moment, I’ve figured out what it was that’s missing, me enjoying my writing was missing.

So, what that tells me is that sitting in the sun, writing in my journal which has the words “My F**king plans to take over the world” with my pen that has “f*ck this sh*t” written on the side, two brilliant Christmas presents I got last year, and watching the world go by and not feeling guilty about it, is some of the best medicine you can get.

 

I’m sure if there are any people sitting here watching me writing with a bloody great stupid looking smile on my face, frantically writing away, probably imagine I’ve lost the plot.

 

Remember, Live, love, laugh.

                 

                                            Take care,

                                                       

                                                           Gary x

Thinking

So I’ve  been thinking a bit about where my life is headed. I’m really excited and looking forward to starting archery, as a new hobby. I’m also enjoying my writing and blogging  as well. But I can’t stop feeling that something is missing, that something is not quite right. I just can’t put my finger on what it is, and it’s driving me mad not knowing.

All in all I really had a good day today. Went out for lunch to a place called Wagamamas, met up with friends, great food, great restaurant, had a laugh and a chat. Celebrated a birthday. Getting more comfortable and confident in using my wheelchair.

Hot weather is not helping, pain levels are driving me up the wall, especially my back and neck,  not sleeping great, feeling a little down, a little depressed, a bit flat, a bit confused, which takes me full circle back to feeling like something is missing.

This requires further investigation,  just not tonight

Take care

Gary x

Pain

You know what pain is a bloody pain, for me, over the last week/week & a balf I have been struggling with writing my blog, due to a sudden rise in pain, in certain parts of my  body, mainly my hands/fingers, chest/left shoulder, neck/throat. Which has made it very hard for me to focus and concentrate. Worst of all is the fact that it has affected my ability to read or write for any length of time. I’ve pretty much used every technique I  know for dealing with my pain, but with little success.

Medication, doesn’t work, and the physio has told me there is very little they can do to help either. Even resting has had little to no effect.

On the bright side though I still I have my dog, my garden, my music and the sunshine to keep my spirits up. My family are looking after me as best they can, whilst  y pain has turned me into a pain which helps a lot, and tomorrow I will actually be able to get out of the house and enjoy a bit of socialising with cffee and friends. So it’s not all bad, is it?

All the best for now.

Be careful out there in the sun and heat, plenty of water and shade.

Till next time, take care

Gary x

Forgetting

As someone who lives with several long term health condition’s, I  think I’m qualified to speak on the subject of forgetting.

I’m so lucky to have such a great network of family and friends, who look out for me and look after me. Making sure I rest enough, eat right, drive me around, phone me up, message me, text me, Facebook me, take me out for coffee and a chat, the list of things people do for me is endless. They don’t do it because they want anything in return, they do it because they want to, because they like me or they love me or maybe it’s because they are just made that way,  caring, compassionate, nice people.

One thing I know I’m guilty of at the moment, is forgetting about the needs and the health of those who give up there time for me, and that time is one of the most precious gifts someone can give.

At the moment somebody I know, someone who puts so much of her time and effort into looking out for and helping others. A person who never asks for anything in return, who wears her heart on her sleeve, and is compassionate beyond words, has been struggling  herself. Now I realise if I look back over the last few months, I can see that I missed a lot of the signs that things weren’t quite right, and did nothing because I’ve been so wrapped up with me, I’m not trying to make an excuse. What  I’m trying to say is I’m not sure when I stopped, but I really need to start looking out for those who look out for me.

The person I am referring to is one of the nicest, hard working, considerate, unselfish,  funny, amazing human beings I have ever had the pleasure to know, second only to my beautiful  wife.

I’m sure this lady knows I am writing about her, I hope you don’t find all this embarrassing, I  just wanted to write down what I’m thinking and feeling today. I know I  can be a bit dense at times, but I genuinely worry and care about those who help me.

I hope you feel better soon, make sure you take all the time you need and all the sunshine you need to get back to being you. Enjoy your time off as much as you possibly can, you’ve done so much to help me over the last few years, without me ever having to ask, I  know you have a great family and friends around you, but please let me know if there is ever anything I can do to help you.

“Work to live, don’t live to work”

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

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

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