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.

New meds day 6

Ok, so day six of taking my new medication.

what’s changed

Pros

  • The burning and freezing sensations to my hands and feet have stopped.
  • Still getting headaches but not as severe or long now.
  • Absences have almost disappeared.
  • Widespread itching is getting less each day.
  • Improvement to chest pain, as only hurts now when doing activities.
  • Drowsiness is getting less

Cons

  • Still fatigued.
  • No change to pain in legs, feet and toes, knees and ankles, thighs and calves.
  • No change to pain in hands, wrists and fingers.
  • No change to lower neck pain and lower back pain.
  • Memory and concentration still poor.
  • Mobility still a problem with coordination, trips, falls and legs giving way.
  • Grip stillpoor and painful, so still breaking things

So some improvement is a positive sign, each small step is a victory.

I will be starting the second part of my new treatment on April 16th which will be a high dose infusion of an anaesthetic called Lignocaine, which will hopefully reset the amount of pain caused by my nervous system could return to zero or be a lot lower. So this could be just one dose and it works in which case job done, or it could be temporary and I would either repeat the treatment once a year or once every 3 months whichever works best. or it could be that the treatment just doesn’t work.

But before this happens I will be having my yearly head/neck/spine MRI to check if there are any more spinal chord liaisons and to also check the compression fracture and bone thinning caused by the Osteoperosisis so fingers crossed there will be no change.

So on the whole I’m feeling pretty positive about things, I know I am a long way off being able to start working again. Though maybe I  will be able to getting out of the house and do some of the things I enjoy doing like people watching whilst out having a coffee or doing some photography, maybe I will even get the chance to go and watch the Hammers play at home sometime as it has been far too long since I saw them play live.

Finally I made a start on updating my memory book which I am finding really enjoyable. I have also been doing some thinking (which some would say is dagerous) and have made the decision that I will not carry on using a mobility car when it comes up for renewal in November as it’s highly unlikely I will be driving for quite a while.

Thank you for reading or following my blog but even if nobody is out there reading it that’s ok because it is helping me make sense of what I am going through, it is also helping me to stay strong, off to listen to Fleetwood Mac “Rumours album”

Adios amigos

Gary

Opioid Days

Day 4

Okay another very bad nights sleep with pain being the main culprit keeping me awake

Trying new meds is a bit like “De ja vu”  I’m only on a low dose but only getting a slight benefit pain management which is good, but on the other hand the side effects I’m getting are not good. This has been the same pattern for each pain meds I have been tried on for the last 8 years.

Side effects    

  1. The widespread itching has gotten worse.
  2. Feeling a little high most of the time.
  3. Concentration is still bad.
  4. Forgetfulness is still bad.
  5. Oh yeah forgetfulness is still bad.
  6. Short term memory is rubbish.
  7. What was I doing?
  8. Where am I?
  9. What day is it?
  10. Why am I here?
  11. What time is it? I don’t know how many times a  day I ask these 5 questions but I can tell it’s a lot.
  12. Neck and lower back pain are still bad.
  13. Pain when breathing is still the same.
  14. Still getting the occasional hand tremors.
  15. Balance is still poor as is co-ordination.
  16. Still dropping and braking things.
  17. Still tripping and falling quite a bit.
  18. Have having absences since I started the new meds.
  19. Spacial awareness not good.
  20. A major improvement on Saturday West Ham won 4-3.
  21. Brighton won today after playing for about 3 hrs at Millwall, so the boss will be happy.
  22. Haven’t broken any crockery for 2-3 days that’s a bonus.
  23. Happy St Patrick’s day.
  24. Enjoying sitting in my shed tonight writing my blog looking at my favourite pictures hanging on the walls
  25. Last but not least my memory is still crap.

Tomorrow I’m going to work on my memory album and also write down of all the countries, cities and American states where I have either worked or visited.

One last thing I would like to recommend a book that I read recently. It’s called “Why are you pretending to be normal” by Dr Phil Friend OBE and David Rees. It about how disabled people see their own disabilities and how able-bodied people see our disabilties. It asks a really interesting question about near  the end of the book. “Are you disabled by other people’s perceptions of you or by your own perception of you?”

Thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings and remember be kind to yourself and to others.

Take care,

Lists, My Favourite…………….?

Sitting up late, can’t sleep yet as I’m in so much pain, so to try to take my mind off things I have decided to write different lists of my favourite things.

So I’ve started off with 25 of my favourite films in no particular order, many of which are about overcoming adversity

1) Man on Fire
2) Gran Torino
3) I Daniel Blake
4) Avengers Assemble
5) Gone in 60 Seconds
6) Field of Dreams
7) 300
8) Unstoppable
9) The Warriors
10) Shooter
11) Unbreakable
12) The Sixth Sense
13) The Losers
14) 42 The Jackie Robinson story
15) A Few Good Men
16) Coach Carter
17) Deadpool
18) Patch Adams
19) Watchmen
20) Money Ball
21) Invincible
22) Heaven Can Wait (original version)
23) Remember The Titans
24) Bi-centennial  Man
25) Logan

 

My Favourite Meals in no particular order are.

1) Boston Clam Chowder with Sourdough bread.
2) Lamb Vindaloo with Pilau rice and a garlic naan bread.
3) New Mexico Hatch green chilli stew.
4) jalapeno poppers.
5) Sizzling steak fajitas.
6) Blackened Catfish with dirty rice.
7) Tom Yum Soup (Thai).
8) Bacon & Cabbage (Ireland)
9) Barbecued  Garlic Langostines (Singapore).
10) Thin & Crispy jalapeno & Pepperoni Pizza.
11) Irish Stew
12) Texas style barbecue  beef ribs.
13) Toasted Bacon sandwich made with Sourdough bread.
14) Garlic & Chilli Pasta (Rome)
15) Beans on Toast.
16) Mushroom soup
17) Fruit salad
18) Chilli con Carne.
19) Bruschetta with garlic, tomato, Olive oil, Balsamic vinegar and parmesan cheese.
20) Fish & Chips

Bugger, well that’s helped me take my mind off my pain a bit, but now I can’t stop thinking about bloody food.

Hope you all have a great weekend.

 

Music One of the best medicines in the world.

I just wanted to share the names of the top 20 bands I like to listen to when I am out driving my car or just feeling a little stressed or fed up.

For example of this happened on Monday, I needed to drive to the chemist to pick collect the second half of my prescription. Now anyone that knows me also knows I can’t hold a tune and I don’t exactly look like a rock star.

But when I’m driving in my car on my own, even if it’s only to the local chemist and I have Queen blasting out on the sound system then I’ll be singing at the top of my lungs and at that time I felt like a “Rock God”, well to me anyway.

It certainly put a smile on my face on my face for the rest of the day.

  1. The Beach Boys
  2. Nickleback
  3. AC/DC
  4. The Vaccines
  5. Bob Marley & the wailers
  6. The Clash
  7. Creed
  8. Counting Crows
  9. First Aid Kit
  10. Foo Fighters
  11. Red Hot Chilli Peppers
  12. Thirty Seconds to Mars
  13. The Mavericks
  14. Queen
  15. Kiss
  16. The Four Seasons
  17. ELO
  18. Eagles
  19. Black Sabbath
  20. The Beautiful South

Keep on trucking, and feel the groove people.

MC Gazzer

A bit of positivity goes a long way.

So on the whole I have to say that Tuesday was pretty good.

  • Woke up with the usual amount of pain, tight muscles and stiff joints.
  • Took all my pills, skipped breakfast as feeling sick like most mornings.
  • Went to the Chemist to pick up my monthly sack of meds which fits just nicely into my rucksack.
  • Then treated myself to a haircut, I do like a bit of pampering every six weeks.
  • After the haircut I treated myself to a bacon roll and a black coffee, absolute heaven, don’t do this very often, so I really enjoyed it.
  • Today just keeps getting better and better.
  • Then came the part of the day I had been looking forward to I was picked up from home by one of my colleagues and got a ride to the office for the monthly team meeting. The last one I had attended was May just before my health took a nosedive. It was so nice to see the whole team again, even taking part in the impromptu photo shoot for facebook as Tuesday was national stress awareness day. Then the Boss gave me a lift home after, makes me realise just how important my work mates are to me and also how important my job is to me.
  •  .facebook_1541689136841.jpg
  • The offending picture. My God, how many chins?
  • So you see it’s these times with my family and my dog and these moments friends and colleagues each day or week or month, that mean I can carry on, that keep me positive whilst I am continually waiting for neurology or rheumatology appointments, for chronic pain and chronic fatigue clinics and most importantly having to wait for the occasional bacon roll.
  • When I got home I was absolutely exhausted my pain levels had returned to “I need to lie down right now and not move for at least week” but it was so worth it.
  • Then I spent a lovely evening with the family, nice meal and a lot more pills, then watched a bit of telly to unwind.
  • Finally got to bed around 3am, but that was OK as I knew I had a couple of days of nothing to do but relax and recover.

For me that’s what I call balance and it seems to be working out OK.

 

In the words of Mister Spock “Live long and Prosper”

 

And the winner….. is!

It’s Tuesday so it must be the Great British bake off. Absolutely love this programme in fact it’s been one of my favourite shows since I first started watching it when it first began.

250px-The_Great_British_Bake_Off_title.jpg

Now those of you who know me me May think that that it’s a bit strange that I would enjoy watching a baking show, seeing as I have been allergic to eggs since I was born. It also means I have never tasted or eaten cake in my life.

For Me though it’s all about the contestants, the joy of being star baker and the heartbreak of being the one that is asked to leave. Each week they arrive full of hope and positivity doing something they love, wanting the best for each other, supporting each other whilst at the same time wanting to win the final.

This programme always puts a smile on my face and the presenters always make me laugh, whether it was Mel & Sue or Sandy & Noel, and nothing beats a Hollywood handshake, I do miss Mary Berry but prue is starting to grow on me.

I’m not really bothered about who wins, but I like to pick someone on week one just for a bit of fun, the only winner I have got right so far is Nadia, though I have picked at least 4 or 5 finalists. For this season I  have picked Ruby, but I am glad Kimjoy is in the final as well, it’s just a shame that Bryony went home last week.

Bring it on 😁