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Mother Nature is quite the prankster. A thunder storm knocked out our power when my clothes were in the washing machine, in our basement. I waited 7 hrs, until 9:00 pm. I finally had to take the wet clothes out and wring the water out each one by hand. I’ll have to re-rinse the clothes tomorrow to get the soap out. Just as I finished the power went back on. Ha ha, lol – @#%&%#@! Mother Nature.
“Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it.” Russell Baker
1) World In Pictures
a.I would love to be a redneck for the day.
East Dublin, Georgia, USA: A participant in the Mud Pit Belly Flop contest jumps into the pond during the annual Summer Redneck Games. Photo: Richard Ellis/Getty Images
b.Looking at this old guys face my guess is his opinion of rock & roll is the same as my grandfathers.
Novi Sad, Serbia: A resident watches young people attending the Exit festival, one of south-eastern Europe’s largest rock and pop music events. Photo: Balazs Mohai/EPA
c.A dust storm with gusts of wind up to 60 miles per hour moves through Phoenix
d.An awesome view from a very dangerous place. War comes to Shangri-La.
Kunar province, Afghanistan: Spc Jacob Green, 22, with the US army’s 3rd Platoon, Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion 27th Infantry Regiment reads a book overlooking the Cherigal Valley at Observation Point Mustang
2) Giles Duley, war took three of his limbs, his can-do spirit stays alive.
From an article in the New York Times, by C.J. Chivers:
“Mr. Duley heard a click and felt a flash of heat as the explosion lifted him into the air. He landed on his side on the dirt, roughly five yards from where he had stood. He smelled the stink of the explosives mixed with that of his own burned flesh. He took stock.
“I remember looking up and seeing bits of me and my clothes in the tree, which I knew wasn’t a good sign,” he said. “I saw my left arm. It was just obviously shredded to pieces, and smoldering. I couldn’t feel my legs, so straightaway and from what I could see in the tree, I figured they were gone.”
Mr. Duley had become, in that flash, a triple amputee. Now he risked swiftly bleeding to death. He recalled uttering a single word: “bollocks.”
“Mr. Duley, 39, was wounded in February in Kandahar Province, becoming another in the long line of casualties in the Pentagon’s offensive to displace the Taliban from one of its rural strongholds.
Five months on, after leaving the hospital, he is roughly midway through a 12-week physiotherapy regimen at Headley Court, a military rehabilitation center near London.
There, freshly fitted with two prosthetic legs and a left arm, he has been relearning to walk and confronting the details of pushing forward in life. Pulled along by what would seem an incurably upbeat mind, he is making plans to return to work as a photographer.”
“Since then he has been in almost continuous sessions of exercise and therapy, pushing himself upright and making himself start to walk, while accepting, he said, “that no matter how good I get, I will always keep falling.”
“For now, that means rounds of exercise alongside soldiers whose limbs were lost in the same ways. Gaining access to their regimen at the rehab center was difficult. Some in the government bureaucracy tried to block Mr. Duley’s admission.
Many objections were raised, including that as a civilian nearing 40, Mr. Duley was not in the same physical condition and mind-set as the young military men he would be working beside.
Three limbs gone, spirit whole, the photographer smiled as he recalled the exchange. “Don’t worry,” he said he jokingly assured the medical official who advanced that argument. “The soldiers will learn to keep up.”
3) Another great performance from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame presentation.
Feelin Alright – Traffic/Dave Mason
Politicians worry about their poll numbers. We all worry about the numbers in our budgets. Today I go some great numbers from my doctor:
Blood Pressure 115/64
Cholesterol 190 LDL 110 HDL 70 (Until I went on my Diabetic diet my Cholesterol was in the 250 range)
Body Mass Index 21.6
Blood Sugar level 120
Fortunately none of the test involved how well my brain cells do, or don’t, function.
“The aging process has you firmly in its grasp if you never get the urge to throw a snowball.”
1) The World In Pictures
a. The world of smiles and laughter
Havana, Cuba: Youths make a splash after a thunderstorm Photograph: Desmond Boylan/Reuters
b. The world of crying and tears.
Somali women displaced by severe drought conditions queue to get food handouts at a center operated by the government and local NGOs, south of Mogadishu, Somalia. Photo Feisal Omar/Reuters
c. The cement that binds communities together, moms and grand-moms and children.
Children watch as Sofia Alidad plays with her seven-month-old grandson, Asher Naeem, in front of her house in Rawalpindi, north-east Pakistan. Photograph: Muhammed Muheisen/ AP
2)Defining Beauty – Ms. Wheelchair America
From an article in the Asbury Park Press, by Laura Martin:
“Defining Beauty: Ms.Wheelchair America,” is a documentary film about five disabled women. But Toms River resident Santina Muha, who is featured in the film, doesn’t want people to view her that way.
“Being in a wheelchair is a part of me, but it is not my defining characteristic,” says Muha, who represented New Jersey in the 2010 Ms. Wheelchair America pageant, which is the setting for “Defining Beauty.” “I am so many other things.”
“Yet Muha says many people only see her disability, which is the result of a spinal cord injury caused by a car accident when she was 5 years old.
She hopes the message of “Defining Beauty” changes that. The film, narrated by actress Katey Sagal, will be shown July 9 at the Long Island Film Expo and has previously been shown at the Staten Island Film Festival where it won “Best Documentary Feature” and at the Newport Beach Film Festival where it received the title of “Audience Award Winner Documentary.” Muha says the film is already affecting public perception of people in wheelchairs.”
“One man said during a screening that when he first started watching, he just saw five girls in wheelchairs, but by the end he saw each woman for who they were individually,” she says. “That is kind of the point of the film for me.”
I am not a fan a beauty contest, too much emphasis on the body, not enough on the brain. However I do look forward to the day when someone like Muha has the opportunity to compete in any beauty contest.
3) Music Videos
Tedeschi Trucks Band – Midnight In Harlem
Jeff Lorber and Eric Darius Live At Java Jazz Festival 2008
1) Tony Campolo, of the Red Letter Christians Blog, writes of truisms we should live by. I am an Atheist not a Christian but I belive they apply to everyone on the planet http://tinyurl.com/3c2hq7u
1.You have no control over what you get; only over what you give.
2.You have no control over how long you live; you only have control over how well you live.
3.Play the hand that you are dealt. If you look at it closely, it’s a better hand than you think you were dealt.
4.It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. In other words, it’s never too late to become what you might have been.
4.“It’s not what you do that makes you great,” said Henri Nouwen, “it’s how you do it.”
5.Mother Teresa said, “We can’t all do great things, be we all can do small things with great love.
2) The “It Gets Better” project was started by syndicated columnist and author Dan Savage, http://tinyurl.com/2dvusvc
“Growing up isn’t easy. Many young people face daily tormenting and bullying, leading them to feel like they have nowhere to turn. This is especially true for LGBT kids and teens, who often hide their sexuality for fear of bullying. Without other openly gay adults and mentors in their lives, they can’t imagine what their future may hold. In many instances, gay and lesbian adolescents are taunted — even tortured — simply for being themselves.
Justin Aaberg. Billy Lucas. Cody Barker. Asher Brown. Seth Walsh. Raymond Chase. Tyler Clementi. They were tragic examples of youth who could not believe that it does actually get better.
While many of these teens couldn’t see a positive future for themselves, we can. The It Gets Better Project was created to show young LGBT people the levels of happiness, potential, and positivity their lives will reach – if they can just get through their teen years. The It Gets Better Project wants to remind teenagers in the LGBT community that they are not alone — and it WILL get better.”
This video by 13 US Senators shows some of our politicians are supporting this project of acceptance, and equality.
3) World In Pictures
a. In Jordan women get all the good jobs.
“A Jordanian female deminer uses a detector to clear a minefield in the northern Jordanian- Syrian border area, near Ramtha city.” (Nader Daoud/AP)
b. A picture of children playing should make us laugh. This one makes me cry.
Children play on waste products at a tannery, Dhake, Bangladesh (Andrew Barij/Rueters)
4) Music – Sugarland “These Are The Days”
“Your imagination is your preview of life’s coming attractions” Albert Einstein
Children have the best kind of imagination, they don’t know the difference between their dreams and reality. The most sucessful people retain that child like vision and use it to make their reality match their dreams.
What dream that you had as a child would you most like to make real?
2) The Dance by Humberto Ak’Abal
(translated by Ilan Stavans)
All of us dance
…on a cent’s edge.
The poor—because they are poor—
lose their step,
and everyone else
falls on top.
3) World In Pictures
Backlit droplet of heptane fuel burns in microgravity on the Int’l Space Station. Fuels burn very differently in the absence of gravity. Image-processing techniques quantify the soot concentration at each point to produce a grey-scale image, which is then colourised. This is a composite of individual video frames.
Chelsea pensioners line up on their mobility scooters as they attend the annual Founders Day Parade at the Royal hospital in west London.
Emily Demgen, 93, poses for photos at Richard I Bong Historical Center, Superior, Wis., with the Red Cross uniform that she wore during World War II. Demgen was a Red Cross volunteer in Milwaukee and Chicago during the war. She came to museum as part of an open house for veterans.”
Photo by Paul M. Walsh/The Country Today/AP
Nutrioso, US: A forest burns during an operation to contain the Wallow Fire in eastern Arizona. The fire has destroyed more than 30 homes and forced nearly 10,000 people to evacuate. Photograph: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP
4) The Long Ride of Damian Lopez Alfonso
From an article in the New York Times by J. David Goodman
“With only the tips of his elbows touching his bicycle’s upturned handlebars, Damian Lopez Alfonso pedaled along the Hudson River bike path on a cool March day. His balancing act elicited stares from disbelieving pedestrians and curious double-takes from fellow cyclists.
Because not only does Mr. Alfonso ride his bike without forearms, lost in a devastating childhood accident, but he also rides it very, very fast.
Tracy Lea first witnessed his unorthodox cycling method during a race outside Havana nearly eight years ago.
Ms. Lea, a former elite racer from Maryland, found herself in a ragtag pack of riders on a highway pocked with “car eating” potholes outside the Cuban capital. “I’m worried about these guys in tight, fast conditions,” she remembered thinking, “and all of a sudden, I’m racing next to a guy with no arms!”
She watched as he powered through the course, lifting his body to shift gears with the nubs of his elbows or press down on the brakes. “Then I realized he had more control than most of the people in the race,” she said.
Despite his disadvantages, Mr. Alfonso, 34, has won local competitions at home in Cuba and he races nearly every weekend against able-bodied cyclists in informal events. But the alterations to his bike that allow him to do so — turning the handlebars nearly 180 degrees upward, so the brakes and gear shifters face him — have also kept him out of officially sanctioned international competitions, which have strict equipment rules.
But not for much longer.
In July, Mr. Alfonso is scheduled to race in Canada, the first event on his road to qualifying for the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. If all goes well, it will be the culmination of a nearly decade-long journey for Mr. Alfonso, a story of sudden tragedy, grim determination and a little help from a lot of perfect strangers in a bicycling community thousands of miles away.”
“Mr. Alfonso’s childhood was radically altered at 13, a time when he was less passionate about cycling than about homemade wood-and-paper kites. “I had the record for finding the most lost kites of all my friends,” he said in an interview in March.
So when he saw a particularly attractive one — large, and decorated with a hand-drawn picture of a skeleton — caught in the power lines above a neighbor’s building, he and a friend climbed to the roof to get it down.
He recalled his friend, Igor, who was slightly older, telling him: “Just leave it there. Don’t mess with that.”
Ignoring the boy’s advice, he reached for the kite with a metal rod.
“We heard an explosion,” his aunt, Ms. Tamargo, recalled. She lived with Mr. Alfonso’s family in a three-story green concrete home in the Casino neighborhood of Havana, where Mr. Alfonso still lives with his mother, a retired military typist.
“I look up,” Ms. Tamargo said, holding back tears, “and I see this blond hair hanging off the roof.”
She paused for a long time.
“Thirteen thousand volts,” she said finally. “They lost the fridge, the TV — the whole building.”
The metal rod had bounced off the power lines, delivering burns to Mr. Alfonso’s face as well as to his arms and torso. Infections cost him his forearms; he was horribly disfigured; but a team of doctors, including a prominent Argentine plastic surgeon, were able to save his life. He spent about a year hospitalized in Havana.
“When he first saw himself, I was walking him around the hospital in a wheelchair,” Ms. Tamargo said. “He saw in a crystal door and he screamed, ‘I’m a monster!’ But he didn’t cry. He just hollered. He never cried. Never. Never. He has never been ashamed of himself.”
Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.
Robert A. Heinlein
Back from cat land. I wouldn’t say it was the worst experience of my life but I am thrilled not to have to deal with cat poop, cat vomit and a 4:00 am cat breakfast meal. In appreciation of my efforts they have given my their traditional going away present, 5 lbs of cat hair on all my clothes.
My cousin on the other hand talked about how she did not enjoy her vacation as much as in the past, a bus tour of Scotland, because of how much she missed her feline family.
Here is one cat who has made an unusual friend.
Comments from the Daily Mail:
“The pair clearly enjoy each other’s company – every time Gebra comes in to land, her four-legged friend trots up to greet her with a friendly rub and purr.
It is believed the animals get on so well together because they have been pals since they were young.
It is also likely that they have bonded over a mutual instinct to hunt rodents.”
2) Rob Summers was told he would never walk again after he was hit by a speeding car but was determined to prove doctors wrong.
From the Guardian http://tinyurl.com/5racd5u
“Baseball champion Rob Summers was hit by a speeding car in Portland, Oregon, three years ago, which smashed into his legs and left him with appalling injuries. He was told he would spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair at best. But the 25-year-old is now making history – as the first person paralysed from the chest down to stand and take a step unaided.
The small and shaky movements that Summers has achieved spell real hope for all those who have suffered a spinal cord injury, and possibly even for those paralysed by other causes such as stroke.
When he was in hospital, doctors told Summers he would never walk again, he said. “They said that I had no hope and to just give up. My comment was you don’t know me very well. I’m going to fight until I get well again.”
To stand again and take steps, he said, “felt incredible. It was amazing. It made me optimistic and hopeful again for the future. I’m excited at being a part of this.”
Summers’ legs are able to move because of electrical stimulation from a device implanted in his lower spine. Two hard years of training, suspended over a treadmill with physiotherapists manipulating his legs to stand and walk have helped build up the spinal cord neural network which processes signals to and from his legs.
The real discovery has been that it is not the brain that is in charge of movement, but the legs and the spinal cord.
His achievement is the culmination of many years of hard work and intense scientific endeavour funded by the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.”
When I was born in 1943 Eddie Cantor sang about “Makin Whoopee”
In 2011 Neon Tress tells us “They kinda want to be more than friends”, from there hit “Animal”
Whatever the words, whatever the look, whatever the sound, it’s still all about makin whoopee.
What’s you favorite love song?
The Music of Space – Eumir Deodato – Also Sprach Zarathustra
Finding Love Through the Pain of Hate
Getting bullied because you are different has been a fact of life for way too many kids, especially if you are gay. This hate was too much for too many. The It Gets Better Project is reaching out with the message of that if you can perseverance through the pain you can find love, fulfillment and joy on the other side of the door.
Spring Haiku – Abhinav Baruah
“Whirlpools of hilly Spring River
Thump and dance on adamant rock bed
Dimple of my smiling dream girl”
Spring is finally showing its face in Connecticut. A few clouds, a few rain drops, but I just might be able to put away my heavy coat.
Had a great walk in the park today.
What thoughts come to mind when you hear the word “Spring”?
1) Weekend In Pictures
Modern Art in farm land – Lisse, Netherlands: Fields of tulips and other colourful flowers are seen from the air.
Love this pic from the Guardian. Moscow, Russia: Children hold candles during an Easter service
You know you luck is going bad when this is your blind date.
Mexican tattoo and body modification artist Maria Jose Cristerna, also known as “Mujer Vampiro” (Vampire Woman), attends an exhibition in Guadalajara, Saturday.
It has been a few year since my body was a bendy as this little girl’s.
A girl undergoes physical conditioning during a ballet training session at Feier Angel dance training centre in Beijing Saturday. About 100 girls, mostly between the ages of 3 and 7, learn ballet at the center.
2) At his New Mexico ranch, former Green Beret Rick Iannucci invites war veterans, suffering from Post Turmatic Stress Disorder, and other problems, to work with horses and heal his wounds.
From the People Making A Difference blog on the Christian Science Monitor – http://tinyurl.com/63np5zq
“Rick Iannucci, director of Cowboy Up!, a horse therapy program for combat veterans, keeps a little notebook with quotations in the back pocket of his jeans.
As he searches for words to explain how working with horses helps heal war-torn veterans, he pulls it out and reads aloud the words of Winston Churchill, who served in the Boer War: “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”
A Christian Science Monitor video of Iannuucci’s The Crossed Arrows Ranch, and his “Cowboy Up” program.
Easter by Joyce Kilmer
The air is like a butterfly
With frail blue wings
The happy earth looks at the sky
1) In Pictures – Holy Week
Penitents carry a figure of Christ on the cross during the procession of the ‘Cristo de la buena muerte’ brotherhood, during Holy Week in Zamora, northern Spain. Hundreds of processions take place throughout Spain during the Easter Holy Week.
Orthodox Christian nuns stand in the Jordan River during a ceremony for the upcoming holiday of Easter at the baptismal site known as Qasr el-Yahud, where it is believed John the Baptist baptized Jesus Christ, near the West Bank city of Jericho. (Baz Ratner/Reuters)
Young women pray at the Sevtitskhoveli Cathedral, Mtskheta, Georgia (David Mdzinarishvili,Reuters)
2) I will be spending Easter Sunday with my cousin and her son. I find the passion with which Christians celebrate Easter to be deeply moving. We don’t have to believe a story to feel the passion in its telling.
If someone from another planet asked you what is Easter what would you answer?
“In Christ Alone” music video featuring scenes from “The Passion of the Christ”. It is sung by Lou Fellingham of Phatfish and the writer of the hymn is Stuart Townsend.
a. Tomb of the Unknown – 2011 “Followed the Golden Rule. Obeyed every law. Never the hint of a scandal. No remembers her name.” Non Sequitur comic strip.
What do you want your epithet to say?
b. Siddhārtha Gautama Buddha
All beings quiver before violence.
All beings fear death.
All beings love life.
Remember that you are like them.
As they are like you.
Then whom would you hurt?
What harm would you do?
He who seeks happiness
By hurting others who seek happiness
Will never find happiness.
Not in the sky,
Nor in the depths of the sea,
Nor in the deepest mountains,
Can you hide from your misdeeds.
Colombo, Sri Lanka: Buddhists monks lead prayers during a special ‘pooja’ wishing success to the Sri Lankan team ahead of the Cricket World Cup final match against India.
[In the US priest pray for the Catholic school Notre Dame, the Fighting Irish. It is good to know that people everywhere have the same priorities 🙂 ]
Aksai, Kazakhstan: School pupils stand by ballot boxes as a voter leaves a polling station during presidential elections (Photograph: Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters)
Dadabili, Nigeria: Crude oil spills from a pipeline. The country postponed national parliamentary elections after voting materials failed to arrive in many areas (Photograph: Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters)
It was the start of lambing season as newborn lambs sleep on fresh straw at Barracks Farm, Fetcham, Surrey, UK (Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
I Had to put the belt up a notch this morning. Then I read this story. I could have gone for a workout. Felt depressed and had a donut instead. 🙂
It should be noted that Charles Eugster was already rowing six times a week at 80, so his version of looking like a wreck is a little different from mine. By his standards I am the Titantic of fitness. 🙂
From an article in the Guardian – http://tinyurl.com/43oryxy
“My personal trainer and I are always getting into arguments about what part of my body needs the most work. I’m not happy with my abs – I have the remains of a small spare tyre – but she says my bottom is a catastrophe because it’s so flat. What we both agree on is that bodies can be remodelled, no matter how old you are.”
[Ninty-one and he has a personal trainer, I hate him already 🙂 ]
“Then at 85 I had a crisis. I looked at myself in the mirror one day, and saw an old man. I was overweight, my posture was terrible and there was skin hanging off me where muscle used to be. I looked like a wreck. I started to consider the fact that I was probably going to die soon. I knew I was supposed to slow down, but I’m vain. I missed my old body and wanted to be able to strut across the beach, turning heads.”
[He’s 91 and talking about struting across the beach turning heads. Now I hate him less. 🙂 ]
“There’s no research into bodybuilding for the over-80s, so it’s been an experiment. With weight-lifting and protein shakes, my body began to change. It became broader, more v-shaped, and my shoulders and biceps became more defined. People began to comment on how much younger I looked, and my new muscular frame drew a lot of admiring glances from women.
Everything I learned was tailored to help my body cope with old age. I took up judo to teach me how to fall properly. My circulation and posture improved, and I was told that there was a chance more muscle mass could protect my brain from Alzheimer’s. I stopped thinking about dying. As I approached 90, my focus was on getting my body back.”
[Now he is talking about, at 90, drawing admiring glances from women. Any women glancing at me are getting ready to call 911 🙂 ]
In 2008, I signed up for my first championship. I was nervous, but although I was the oldest contestant by around 20 years, everyone was very welcoming. I got higher scores than all the women taking part, and a lot of the men. Then, at last year’s event in Germany, I triumphed, scoring higher than any contestant in any age category for my 57 dips, 61 chin-ups, 50 push-ups and 48 abdominal crunches, each in 45 seconds. As I’m over 70, they did make allowances – I could do the push-ups on my knees, for example – but I proved I wasn’t past it.
[Sixty-one chin-ups? 50 push-ups? At 90! Now I hate him again. 🙂 ]
“I’m not chasing youthfulness. I’m chasing health. People have been brainwashed to think that after you’re 65, you’re finished. We’re told that old age is a continuous state of decline, and that we should stop working, slow down and prepare to die. I disagree. To me, a 65-year-old is young. I turn 92 this year. It is a frightening prospect – the law of averages is against me, and, yes, one day something will happen and that will be it. But until that day comes, I’m going to carry on working on my abs.”
[Now I love him again 🙂 ]
1) World In Pictures
a. Afghan children play on a makeshift carousel on a street in Kabul. (Omar Sobhani/Reuters)
Grosskrotzenburg, Germany: A thermal image of a coal-fired power station. (Photograph: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters)
Natori, Japan: Local residents look down on the devastated Yuriage district in the Miyagi prefecture
(Photograph: Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images)
b. From a Guradian slide show of the art of modern knitters, the Materialistics, who have recreated some of the most famous paintings in the world. http://tinyurl.com/6g58rhd
Munch: The Scream by Norma Box
2) I love this video. Google bring the world togther through music.
“The Internet Symphony” Global Mash Up
3) If we needed a reminder of the potential for the human mind to overcome any circumstance of life we can learn from Kevin Weller, who has been unable to move or speak since a stroke 21 years ago.
From the Guardian – http://tinyurl.com/5w6e5zc
Kevin Weller told his story to Jill Clark with the help of his wife Janet, using an alphabet board:
“I had a massive stroke when I was 32, which came without warning. I had always been healthy, so there was no way of knowing what was about to unfold. One evening I was having dinner at my mum’s and couldn’t swallow my food. While driving home, I started getting pins and needles in my left arm and by the time I reached my house the sensation had spread to my tongue, so my wife, Janet, took me to A&E. It was a bank holiday and the hospital was choc-a-bloc.
At first the nurse thought it was an ear infection and as we had our six-year-old daughter with us, we didn’t want to cause a drama. But as my speech started to slur and my face dropped, my wife knew it was serious. The doctors refused to accept it was a stroke, saying I was too young. But by midnight I was in a coma. Soon afterwards my wife was told that my body was shutting down and that I was probably going to die. They said a tracheotomy to help me breathe probably wasn’t worth it, but Janet insisted.
Two weeks later I woke from the sedation drugs with no recollection of the trauma, and thought I must have been in a fight. When it slowly dawned on me that I couldn’t move, and couldn’t speak, I felt such fear. I was paralysed below the neck, unable to speak, move or feel anything – I was trapped in my own body and petrified that no one would realise I could understand.
When I flashed my eyes the doctors thought I was fitting and gave me more sedatives. Back then they didn’t know much about locked-in syndrome and they assumed I was braindead. It was my wife who eventually spotted the recognition in my eyes and persevered – showing me flashcards with simple words. She realised that, though I couldn’t speak or move, I was fully conscious and aware of everything. With time, I learnt to communicate through the use of an alphabet board, blinking my eyes to spell out words.
As the weeks and months went on I felt an unimaginable grief for the person I’d lost – the old me. The man who did the milk round, who played squash every week. The family man with three daughters.
I was in hospital for 18 months before I was offered a place in a residential home, but Janet knew I wanted to go home – something unheard of then. She gave up her job at BT and became my nurse and my daughters became young carers. It was hard, but we made sure the kids didn’t miss out – they always went dancing and met their friends.
As someone who is stubborn, difficult and awkward, being cared for in every way imaginable has been hard to accept. To be cuddled, rather than give a cuddle, to be kissed rather than give a kiss, to be fed, to be changed, have all been hurdles.
I miss eating, as I am fed through a tube in my stomach. I miss being able to shout at the football. People have to guess what I’m saying with my eyes, and my spelling sometimes isn’t at its best. Before the stroke, I was always active and on the move. Now I watch others move. I watch my daughters living their life, the life I gave them. I watch my seven grandchildren grow and play. They sit with me on my bed and we watch DVDs or the football. In June, I’m going to one of their holy communions. I go out in my wheelchair for special occasions like this, but it’s a big deal as we need to hire a full team of carers and an ambulance and I take a portable ventilator. On the whole I’m at home.
There’s always plenty of conversation, and my wife reads to me. We row like any married couple – I can scream at her with my eyes – but I don’t know what I’d do without her. It’s a love story. We got married as teenagers, 35 years ago, and last year we had our wedding blessed. Janet shares my dark sense of humour. I’ve lost friends, I’ve gained friends. But she’s always there.
One of the worst times was when I caught the superbug C difficile. The sickness and chronic diarrhoea plagued me for almost a year. I was in and out of hospital, and almost lost faith in ever feeling better.
But though I’ve had my teary moments, I’ve always believed that if there’s life, there’s hope. With no exception. I know that some people who have been locked-in have asked not to be resuscitated if their heart stops, or have elected for euthanasia. But if that had been me, look at how much I would have missed.
I have a sense of humour, and although I cannot laugh or move any other muscles in my face, I can smile – which is rare for someone with locked-in syndrome. I do feel happy, and I will not give up. I have never once considered suicide or needed antidepressants. I wish to remain here as long as possible. No doubt there. There’s so much going on, so much to look forward to. I think you can either cry your way through life or laugh, and in the end, I guess you do what you believe is right.