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Hello world!

I have started Phyzzezee as a means to help address some of the day to day difficulties experienced by those of us who find ourselves at some stage in life, for whatever reason, physically challenged or even disabled as effectively functioning members of society.

I want to encourage discussion and comment and the sharing of coping strategies that have helped improve our abilities to stay active.

Phyzzezee is not just for people who self-identify as being ‘disabled’ but also for those who may be just getting older and more frail, or perhaps be temporarily affected by illness or accident.  It’s very likely that many or even most of these people will also not be online to read this so I am relying on their friends, family, carers etc. to perhaps pass on information and also maybe comment on their behalf.

Several issues have recently come to a head for me personally and Phyzzezee allows me a place to try and raise public awareness with a view to improving life not only for myself but hopefully for a perhaps otherwise silent minority.

 

Detergent difficulties

Some time ago I changed from using liquid detergents to gel. This was because lifting heavy containers of liquid and then needing to carefully pour into a small container with one hand was problematical for me. Also, only having one eye, my spatial awareness is not always very exact and liquids make a drippy mess when I judge the distances badly. The newer gel versions of the same detergents however are more easily managed, or so I thought until recently when I have discovered a different problem particular to them alone. All is wonderful when the container is new and full but once down to the last 20% or so suddenly it becomes impossibly difficult to squeeze the container hard enough and long enough to get enough gel out for a wash. I have had to resort to asking my husband’s help for the past few weeks in order to use up the contents of the two gel detergents in the picture, and even he has had to struggle, saying it needs the strength of a gorilla to get the last stuff out! I’m guessing it’s probably something that happens with all the various brands. Has anyone else experienced this? It’s a shame because otherwise I find the gels a much cleaner and easier alternative, but for the time being I’ve reverted to using liquid, at least until the pain and weakness in my hands reduces, if ever.

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Bad hand days are here again

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Experienced a long day of pain a couple of days ago so I dug out these little treasures. Their close-fitting warmth helped bring some relief. Wrist-warmer season is here again!

Apologies about the large lurid picture but this is my first attempt to post, with a picture, from my ipod, and I’m not sure how to edit to reduce the image size just now!

helpful holster

I heard on the news this morning that a young women aged twenty-five had died last night outside in the snow.  It is not yet clear whether she fell or was taken ill but one wonders if she was conscious whether she had a mobile phone with her to be able to summon help.

A few years ago during similar weather conditions one night one of our friends  was out walking his dog in some local woods when he slipped and broke his leg.  He was unable to raise the alarm by mobile  because there was no signal and had he not been able to slowly and painfully crawl out of the wood and to the nearest house he too would have succumbed to a cold death.

Because of my condition, falling is my greatest fear and I don’t set foot outside if there is a risk of slipping on ice.  I don’t go walking down our (very) long garden if I am home alone in case I fall.  Even then, I take a phone with me;  but this can be a problem sometimes if I don’t have a pocket to carry it in.

My mother in her later years had Aid Call which saved her life a couple of times.  That system, and others like it, require the wearing of a device around the neck or wrist which can easily be pressed to summon help, but such services usually cost money and may not be a sufficiently justified expense for some less at-risk people.  Having one’s mobile always to hand could be a really useful if slightly less reliable alternative.  To this end I have made a little holster to carry my mobile and wear around my neck  when I am home alone.  It’s knitted from scraps of leftover yarn, and I may make several to compliment different outfits.

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I think I will also make a few when time permits and put them up for sale on my blog in case others are interested but unable to make their own.

one year on

A little over a year ago I decided to follow the advice given in a book as to how to treat my arthritis without drugs.  In this post I declare my intention of trying this practice for a full year as there are no quick fixes.  I am pleased to report that although I have not stuck tightly to all the aspects of the regime I have been fully consistent with many of them, and I have adapted others in the light of new information gleaned along the way.

An important point to note is that I was lucky enough to be able to try this experiment since I wasn’t really on any serious medication to have to give up.  In fact all my life I have done my best to avoid taking up offers of drugs so compared to many other people with Stills Disease or similar related conditions I have only taken relatively small or infrequent prescriptions of drugs such as cortisone, prednisolone, methotrexate and celebrex.  The one drug which I have relied on heavily through six decades is aspirin.  I count myself fortunate to some extent that the modern drugs now offered to patients just weren’t available during my younger years.  Nowadays current thinking and practice is to treat the onset of Stills Disease agressively with drugs to prevent joint damage.  I certainly have suffered joint damage, and in the end lost the sight in one eye on account of my Stills Disease, but apart from that I have been fortunate to have lived a relatively healthy and productive life into my sixties.  I was a schoolteacher (albeit part-time) for more than twenty years) and I have been blessed with a healthy son and two grandchildren.

When I was younger, a student facing my first major operation on my knee, I used to explain to people about the cause being my ‘arthritis’ and I used to always maintain, “at least it doesn’t kill you”.  Sadly I was wrong in this belief.  When I was growing up in the fifties and sixties I was aware that I’d had a diagnosis of Stills Disease as an infant and that the condition was related to Rheumatoid Arthritis but I wasn’t often or hardly aware much of the time of symptoms other than those that more related to osteo-arthritis.  It was all the same to me, in my mind I was just more susceptible to ‘wear-and-tear’ damage.

Only very recently as a result of interaction via the internet have I come to understand the full scope and awful potential of Stills Disease.  About a year ago I made a friend online via Stills Disease.  Her name was Laura and she wrote an erudite and highly informative blog about the Disease and the personal progress of her illness.   Earlier this month the terrible news of her death reached the Stills community and this awful sudden ending of such a young and beautiful life has shocked me to the core.   Hopefully her blog will stand in perpetuity as a useful source to others and a legacy to Laura.  A memorial site for her has been created here.

Laura had tried just about every drug available and yet they couldn’t save her!  I, on the other hand, have tried very few and yet I’ve lived to become a pensioner.  It does make me wonder whether they have got it wrong and more research should be done into less agressive forms of treatment, more natural therapies and diet, for example.  To me it makes more sense to nurture the body’s good cells to better help them resist the rogue destructive ones.

So I shall be sticking to my current diet/lifestyle in the hope of further or at least continuing improvement.  Today we went swimming.  The disabled changing facilities were in use so I had to manage on my own in the women’s changing room.  A year ago no way could I have managed this.   I do have a few concerns right now, one being swollen ankles.  These have occurred before, but usually I can get rid of them with better application to my diet and exercise.  Exercise is what I have been missing out on this last month, mainly due to the ongoing abysmal dark and wet weather.  I am unable to potter around in the garden because of the mud and fear of slipping, and the damp doesn’t help my old bones.  Visits to the swimming pool have been lacking due to other seasonal priorities, but are firmly back on the agenda for the new year.

I also have two more new ‘weapons’ in my  armoury against Stills, both oriental in essence.  I have been adopted as a recipient of long distance healing by a friend in Japan.  I am grateful for this and keep an open mind.  And on Thursday I am going for an initial session of the Chinese massage technique, Tuin Na.  This came about as a result of reading this page and me then finding a local practioner.  So I go forward into the New Year with thankfulness and optimism.

friendship and the teenage pix competition

How many photos do you have of yourself with your friends as a teenager? Nowadays I guess, on account of digital cameras and the internet, the answer for today’s teenagers is in the  hundreds, if not thousands!  Yet back in the fifties when I was experiencing my teenage years few of us thought to take photographs when we were out and about having fun.  Back then we did have  cameras  but a film would last us a long time inside a camera before being taken out and taken in to the chemists to be processed.  And as often as not many of the resulting photos proved to be a disappointment, usually due to operator error.

So when I saw the facebook competition currently being run by Arthritis Reasearch  I wondered what appropriate pictures, if any, that I might have to enable me to enter.  The chance of winning this competition appealed because I have wanted to revisit London for some time now but for various reasons it has proved too complicated and difficult.  The website entices, “Win a stay at a top London Marriott Hotel followed by afternoon tea at the Goring Hotel and a professional photo shoot”, so I thought I’d have a go.

Since the photos from my teenage years are few and far between I knew there was a limited choice.  The following picture of me and my friend Sue at Christmas time is a favourite, partly because I remember loving my dress so much at the time.

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But seasonal as the pic is right now at this particular moment in time it would be a bit odd to recreate in spring or summer for the purposes of the photo shoot.  So I needed something different.  The competition requires a picture of the contestant as a teenager having fun with up to five friends.  That narrowed the choice down to just two photos that I could recall having available.  The terms and conditions of the competition require getting consent from each of the other people in the picture;  that left me with just  one of the two photos fitting the criteria, since in the picture shown below I never knew the names of some people, let alone whether they are even still alive today!

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There do exist a few other photos from my actual teenage years, but the ones I can currently locate tend to be of me alone….here’s one of my favourites, taken during a Saturday morning art class for school pupils held at Leeds Art College:

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Another small set are ‘somewhere safe’ which I have yet to discover, and they were taken with a group of friends in a student house in New Malden near Kingston-upon-Thames during the week that the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper” album came out, so I would technically still have been a teenager,  that being five months away from my 20th birthday.  These though, even if I could lay my hands on them, would be of no use for the competition since again I have lost touch with the once- very-close friends within them.  I wonder how many teenagers or relatively young people reading this now could accurately guess which friends from now they will carry with them through to their mid-sixties?  I have been fortunate to have a  number of good friends throughout my life, some much closer than others.  One doesn’t imagine losing touch with any of them but it does happen, maybe less so nowadays thanks to the internet.

In the end there was really only one picture properly suitable for submission as an entry for this competition.  Here it is.

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I am the one on the left in the picture. This was only about a year after I was released back into the community from the Marguerite Hepton Orthopaedic Hospital and having to after being confined to bed for almost a full year.  I was on holiday at the seaside resort of Bridlington for the week with Sue’s family and we three girls spent most days on the beach.  This photo was snapped by one of the photographers on the promenade one day as we were on our way there.  I don’t remember how much we paid for it but I am glad we have it as a memento of that time.  We used to make a lot of our own clothes in those days.  A yard and a half of fabric or even a lesser remnant from one of the stalls in Leeds market would make a simple skirt.  Gingham was the fashion of that particular moment in time and,  if I remember correctly, Sue’s skirt was pink and white and mine was mauve and white.

Anyway, back to the competition.  When I took the decision to enter I read  the terms and conditions pertaining to submitting an entry, the main one being getting the approval of the other people in the picture.  I rang Sue and was assured that both herself and her sister were up for it.  What I didn’t actually find to read through until several days later was the detail of what is included in the prize, or more importantly, what isn’t.  The prizewinner’s party have to pay for their own travel.  For us in the north of the UK this is potentially quite an expense.   Economical travel to London is possible but depends on booking well in advance, and having time to spare.  Unless travelling by car (more about that option later) arrival destination points in London are basically either Kings Cross station or Victoria coach station.

The hotel accomodation provided is at Twickenham.  To get into London from there requires a ten minute walk to Twickenham station, more than I could manage, and a twenty minute journey to Waterloo.  I’m not quite sure how far away from the Goring Hotel that actually is but it would necessitate travel by taxi for me to avail myself of the free afternoon tea.  And then we’d have to make a return trip of course.    You can see how the costs are mounting up.

Transport from the Marriott hotel IS provided to the studio however for the photoshoot, but there is no mention of when this would be.  I’m imagining it would most likely be in the morning, with the afternoon then free for the Goring experience.  But I’m rubbish in the early mornings, and presumably the competition organisers expect the winners to have arrived in Twickenham for their overnight stay the previous day.  This is fine, but after a morning photoshoot and afternoon tea at the Goring I would be in no fit state to cope with economy travel all the way back up north!  It would be far too long and tiring a day for me.  Also it would necessitate either returning to Twickenham to collect overnight luggage before travelling on to catch either a coach or a train from wherever, or carrying this with us to our afternoon tea.  I at least would need to pay for a second night at the Marriott or another more conveniently located hotel prior to making my return journey home.

Even were we to make the journey down south by car, if one of my friends were willing and able to drive, most of the travel problems already identified would still apply.  And last but not least, I haven’t been anywhere for the past few years without my carer, my husband.  I would be reluctant to travel and be away from home  with just my friend for support.  Although we are old friends I feel that the responsibility would be a bit of an imposition, therefore I would be better able to enjoy the experience if my husband could accompany me.  This would also then necessitate the additional cost  for his accomodation.

Originally the competition was due to have finished by now but the closing date has been extended until 4th January.  I’m still voting for myself each day because part of me would really like to win, despite all the practical and financial problems I have just identified.   Quite a few online friends seem to have voted for me too, but only they know who they are, apart from those who have declared their votes via facebook comments.  To read all the competition terms you have to click on the ‘submit an entry’ link and scroll down to the bottom.  Here it becomes apparent that the entry with the largest number of votes is not necessarily the winner, so I’m still in with a chance, if you’d like to vote for me

I have written this post about the competition to explain how it is for many of us who have and live with arthritis in one of its many forms.  I long to be able to visit London, mainly to go to art exhibitions,  museums or music events, but for all the reasons above it just isn’t possible.  I thought that the prize in this competition would  be an ideal treat should I be lucky enough to win, especially since it is being run by Arthritis Research UK presumably  for people who have arthritis, but perhaps the organisers haven’t thought sufficiently about the various ‘equal opportunities’ issues faced by all of the potential entrants?

PhyzzEzee Rizer now available to order

I have dedicated a separate page of this blog (http://phyzzezee.wordpress.com/introducing-the-phyzzezee-rizer-an-original-design-by-phyzzezee/) describing the development of my invention, a portable riser cushion, designed as an aid to help those who have difficulty sitting on seating that is too low for them to safely or comfortably access whilst out and about.   Whilst other ‘cushions’ are available all the ones I have seen seem to be designed with spinal comfort rather than lift in mind, and most are not easily portable, thus my design seems to me to be unique.   Here again are the pictures and details of what is available:

I have named my invention the PhyzzEzee Rizer because although it looks like a bag, the bag is merely a carrier for a riser cushion.  The bag is made of smooth, lightweight but durable waterproof fabric, in a dark forest green colour that tones well with most outfits.

It has a full length zip, and a strap so it can be worn over the shoulder.  The removable foam riser cushion meets fire regulation requirements and is available in different qualities varying in performance, weight and price.  I have also made the PhyzzEzee Rizer in two sizes:  there is the basic 34cm  square and, for the larger person, or someone who needs spare cushioning for painful arthritic hands when lifting themselves, the 34cm x 44cm rectangle.

All variations are non-bulky and  lightweight enough to be  comfortable to carry and ‘wear’ without causing the user extra stress.  The addition of a simple D-clip to the front strap means that a wrist purse (as in the picture on the beach)

or walking stick loop can easily be attached if required, for example when needing both hands free at a shop counter or till.

I have a few bags ready for immediate sale but once these are gone the PhyzzEzee Rizer will be available only by pre-order, with a 20% deposit payable at the time of ordering.  The sizes and prices available are as follows:

PhyzzEzee Rizer Basic – 34cm square x 7cm deep with basic foam cushion …………….. total price £24.00 plus P&P

with extra firm cushion ……………… total price £33.00 plus P&P

PhyzzEzee Rizer Large – 34cm x 44cm x 7cm deep with basic foam cushion …………… total price £28.00 plus P&P

with firm cushion ……………………. total price £38.00 plus P&P

The variation in prices reflect mainly the difference in the cost of the foam inserts.  The basic foam is acceptably adequate, especially for someone wanting to try out the product to see how useful it might be to them.  The Firm and Extra Firm cushions are considerably more expensive but provide better lift and cushioning for uneven or lower surfaces.  The basic foam is also a little lighter to carry.  It is possible to buy an additional cushion at a later date for interchangeable use with the same bag.  Prices for a cushion  insert alone will be supplied on request to any previous customer.

If you are interested in purchasing any of these items please email me at  trish@black-mail.co.uk  .

P&P and payment options will be offered to suit individual requirements.

what doesn’t kill you ….

….  makes you stronger, so they say.  My stay in a children’s orthopaedic hospital certainly proved to be very character forming.

It was in 1959, very soon after sitting my Eleven Plus exam,   http://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/advice/what-is-11-plus  , that I was admitted to Leeds General Infirmary for ‘investigations’.  I had been diagnosed with Stills Disease, a form of rheumatoid arthritis that affects both children and also adults, as a baby.  I had been getting progressively unwell and struggling with very stiff and painful knee joints every morning, and after school.  They told me I would be in hospital for a few days.  They lied!  After  taking some kind of sample from my right knee whilst I was under a full anaesthetic in Leeds General Infirmary for a few days, they then dispatched me to the Marguerite Hepton  Orthopaedic Hospital  for children where I was to be an inmate for almost a whole year.  When I was finally discharged I was able to join my friends at Roundhay High School in the September  as we all began the second year.

I recently found that there exists a blog,  http://margueriteheptonhospital.blogspot.co.uk/ ,  which has contributions from various people who were patients and staff at the hospital from the opening  in 1910 to its closure in 1985.  The most recent contribution on the blog at the time of my writing is by Susan Lee  who was a patient there twice in the 50s and recalls singing the following song:

There is a happy land far far away
Where we get jam and bread 3 times a day
Egg and bacon we don’t see
We get sawdust in our tea
That’s the way we family
Down Thorp Arch way
Some folks say it’s a very nice place
But I don’t think that’s true
As long as you’re a walking girl
You’ll have lots of things to do!
You’ll be up and down the ward
With a bedpan in your arms
……………………………………………….
…………………………………can’t remember this bit!
Singing Mummy, Daddy take me home
From this orthopaedic home
I’ve been here a year or two
And now I want to be with you
I’ll say goodbye all the Doctors
Goodbye all the Nurses
Goodbye all the Sisters
And the jolly old Matron too!
*
Seeing this brought back  a few more long forgotten memories as during my time on the girls ward a couple of years later we too used to sing this same song.  Many of the things mentioned in other people’s posts also were familiar to me, despite the fact that many recount experiences from an earlier decade!
I remember feeling quite betrayed when they took me off to Thorpe Arch, but I don’t remember arriving there and settling in.  It must have been quite horrible though.  We were only allowed visitors on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.  I was probably more fortunate than many since my parents had a car and could visit more easily than those who had to travel by bus.  But my dad worked at M&S and so I doubt they came Saturdays.  I was under the care of Mr Clarke and I remember groups of suited men descending and making  rounds of their patients once a week.  I had my right leg up in traction by then and was well and truly tethered to my bed.  The doctors used to put their hands on my knees to feel for inflammatory heat.  This continued for several months until one day they decided that the right knee had improved, and it was released from traction, but that same day they strung up the other leg!  I was almost suicidal for a while.
Other people have written more technically about the procedures and types of splints etc used in those days.  I believe the bed with its overhead frame to which my splinted leg was attached by means of weights and pulleys was called a Balkan Beam.  All I know was that when the nurses weren’t looking I would sometimes haul myself upright with my arms and stand for a short while on the leg that wasn’t held straight in the splint contraption.  The very worst thing though, as someone else mentioned, was when they changed the long strips of elastoplast which ran down either side of the leg from top of the thigh to the ankle.  Getting this elastoplast off was excruciatingly painful.  Others have written about the regular rubbing down with methylated spirits we received to prevent bedsores;  I’d completely forgotten this routine until reading their accounts.
I remember there was some kind of bathroom at the top end of the ward where we were taken and bathed occasionally.  I hated it as we used to be placed on a table prior to being bathed and this put us level with some kind of window out onto the ward.  As a young teenager I was very embarrassed by the lack of privacy.  The beds on the girls ward were arranged so that the youngest, babies and toddlers I think, were at the bathroom and office end whilst the oldest girls, of which I was one, were housed at the furthest end.  The entire length of the ward had opening French windows on one side, and my bed was on that side.  And against the very bottom end wall stood an old upright piano, which I don’t recall anyone ever playing.  Above it was a small wall-mounted television, but again I don’t remember watching it.  Much of the time we were outdoors, wheeled on our beds through the French windows onto the ‘veranda’ outside.  In retrospect it was more like a patio, but I doubt that word existed back then.  We spent most days out there, in all weathers.  How we survived the onslaught of fresh air I don’t know.  We had our meals out there, and our lessons.  I quite enjoyed the schoolwork, and did a lot of drawing and painting and other crafts, sometimes for entering into competitions.
I still have a copy of the 50th Anniversary booklet that was produced in 1960.
The following picture, (borrowed  from this booklet for use in this post only), shows the boys ward  at a much earlier date than when I was  there, but I recall things looking little different on the girls’ ward a decade later.
This other picture (again borrowed from a post on the blog) shows Ward 1, which was the ward I was on,  in 1984  when the hospital closed.
When our families visited they would wheel us around the grounds in our beds. Here is a photo of me with some of my relatives one visiting day.
This was the only time we got to see the boys, which created quite a bit of excitement for us older girls.  We sometimes got pushed as far as the field where there stood an old gypsy type caravan.  And there were rabbits in hutches in another part of the grounds.  Many of my aunts worked at Terrys and Rowntrees in York so they would bring lots of ‘waste’ sweets for me but all these had to be handed in and we were allowed to choose stuff when it was given back to us in moderation during a daily sweet round.  This was a sensible way to avoid problems as keeping our weights within healthy bounds as bedridden but growing children must have been a priority.  I was on cortisone medication so I swelled up quite a bit during my time there as a side effect of the drug, something not ideal for when I eventually had to learn to walk again!   I think I enjoyed most of the food, with the exception of the Allbran which we were forced to eat most morning for breakfast.  Just the thought of it even today still makes me retch!  But no doubt they had to keep our immobile young bodies ‘regular’ and I recall this was a major pre-occupation.  Sister used to advise my mother to bring in Pomfret Cakes (http://www.sweetgreetingsshildon.co.uk/liquorice/pontefract-cakes/prod_146.html) to feed to me, and they always did the trick!
The song I quoted at the beginning uses the words, “that’s the way we family down Thorpe Arch way”, and this is very apt in my opinion.  Some of us were there for several months, which was long enough, but others had spent years in hospital.  We were a family.  We didn’t have much but we did have each other, and some friendships were very strong and therapeutic.  My closest friend was called Janet.  I think she had spent seven or eight years of her life in and out of hospital.  She had brittle bone disease.  When new girls came in we used to warn them not to let their bedcovers trail onto the floor or the spiders and cockroaches would climb up during the night.  Fortunately none of us relaised at the time that cockroaches can fly!  We were only aware of them scuttling about on the floor in the dark.  You could catch a glimpse of them by our or the nurses torchlights, and you could hear the occasional one crunch under a nurse’s foot as they did their nightime rounds to check that we were all asleep.  It was during the hours of darkness that I would catch glimpses of a little field mouse that seemed to inhabit the piano as he was often to be seen sitting on one of the piano’s feet.  Daytimes too provided us with opportunities to appreciate local wildlife, usually birds, which were frequent visitors around our beds.  Insects too played a regular part of our daily outdoor lives.  I read in one of the posts on the blog about someone finding a dead wasp inside there plaster cast when it was cut off.  My memorable wasp experience was more direct, one day I sat on one!
We used to plan all kinds of mischief.  Prior to April Fools Day we devised a complex charade which involved me pretending to have fallen of the bed (maybe I was no longer attached to the frame by this point?) onto the floor with blood coming from my leg.  I don’t remember whether or not we actually carried it out but some time , probably after that date, there was a terrible accident in the night which was quite frightening.  One of the nurses somehow walked or fell through a glass door further back in the building and was badly injured.  There was a lot of noise and commotion.  I think she was ok in the end.  Other frightening or exciting events were when prisoners or inmates from the adjacent open prison and remand home went awol and teams of prison officers and police would go past our French windows in the night with torches searching for the escapees.
Despite the fact that I spent my 12th birthday and Christmas 1959  in the hospital I remember little of any celebrations for either, although I’m sure there must have been some.  I think my right leg was up in traction for about six months, then my left one for another three or more.  After that I was learning to walk for quite a while so that my time as a  patient there stretched to almost a full year.  I don’t have any record of my actual dates of admission and discharge.
I mentioned the existence of boys earlier.  They were accomodated on a different ward but we did see them at weekends when our visitors took us out in our beds.   We girls used to be quite interested and pester the nurses for information as to the different boys names and ages.  Most of the nurses were very young themselves and happily went along with our curiosities, to the extent that they would act as go- betweens carrying ‘love’ letters.  I still have some of these and intend to add them to this post when I can finally locate there whereabouts!
There is a post on the blog made in 2008 from a Malcolm Benson who was a nine year old patient during the same time I was there.  He is able to recall the names of some of the staff which he quoted, and thanks to him,  I am delighted now to be able to recognise and remember the names of the following three  nurses Woodhead, Huddleston and Rennie.
At some point they set me free from my bed and then I had to relearn to walk.  I don’t remember getting much specialist help on the ward, but as soon as any of us became vaguely mobile there was stuff to do.  We had to pick up dropped items for our fellow patients, and fetch and carry a few things, I don’t remember the details.  The best thing was though that I got sent by ambulance once a week to Harrogate Spa Baths for hydrotherapy.  This was the highlight of my life.  The ride there and back in the ambulance represented freedom from school and confinement, and my mother met me at the baths and spent a few hours with me before and after treatment.  The pool itself was bliss, and instead of being put in the sling, if I was lucky the hydrotherapist, who was a lovely young man, lifted me in and out of the water.  After my treatment and exercises the attendants wrapped me in lovely warm towels and left me to rest for twenty minutes tucked up on a bed in a little cubicle.  Then I joined my mum, who pushed me in a wheelchair into the cafe where we had coffee and cakes and were entertained by the palm court orchestra which played in the cafe in the centre of the lovely old building, before I was eventually returned to my ambulance and transported back to Thorpe Arch.  It was a lovely day out.
Learning to walk again though was hard, and when I eventually went home I was only just able to manage, but I was able to finally begin high school in September of 1960, after missing the entire first year of secondary education.  It was a bit tricky fitting in as a latecomer but I picked up everything well, except French, which I hated and never felt happy trying to speak.  I was back, just in time to participate in the Swinging Sixties.  Just three years and a couple of months  later I was backstage at an Arts Ball in Bradford talking to the Rolling Stones, but that’s a whole other story……
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