Life Changes

31 July 2020

There is a saying I like which is “Anything and everything is bound to change from one form to another at some time in the universe. Hence change is the only constant in the universe, besides the eternal universe itself.”

In the same way we are subject to change in one way or another as we grow, being affected as we are by everything around us and how we react to those changes. Sometimes we learn from these changes, though often it takes us time to do so. Sadly some never learn, doing the same things over and over again but expecting different results at some point. That does not occur!

What I have found over the years is to try and learn from my mistakes, to not repeat them (even though that can be difficult at times) and to make those changes, even if it means coping with quite big changes at times.

When I was much younger, attitudes by others towards me and my disabilities meant I had to act so that others did not notice them. For example, finding a different way of tying shoelaces – I found my own way of doing so because my right hand was (and still is) too weak to do the job the way others do. Happily I have found that over time more and more people seem to accept that whilst we may look similar, we are all different. I now find that I am generally treated in a far better way, but that may also be because I behave slightly differently now. I take the time to explain my disabilities and show how I try my best to cope, but equally how I accept there are some things I simply cannot do unaided.

Sadly there are some people I have met who have found it difficult to accept the changes it was necessary for them to make in order to survive. One lady I knew who had cancer almost demanded that the world should change to suit her. A man I knew who was a brilliant musician was advised to lose weight but did not do so, whilst another dear friend ignored the words she was given about changing her life. They were offered choices, given a chance to change their ways in this life but did not do so. As a result their lives on this earth ended earlier than they might otherwise have done.

Even now I am facing further changes in how and where I live, as I am unable to get out and about the way I used to. But what has sustained me in these difficult times, apart from my faith in God, is that I know these changes are what I need for the next chapter in my life. We cannot know in any definite way what tomorrow may bring, but by looking after ourselves, with proper food, with gentle exercise and appropriate relaxation we can not only be helping ourselves but also then be able to help others. There are many forms of exercise, many different foods and many different forms of relaxation. I have found what seems to suit me best, for example I do not eat red meat. I am learning to walk again and have been taught an excellent relaxation therapy which others also find to be of great benefit. As previously said, I shall write more about that later. Suffice it to say for now that for me, this has been a major contributor in coping with this particular life-changing experience.

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Relaxation Therapy

24 July 2020

Where I am at present, medication is usually supplied around the same time night and morning, but one night it was provided very late. I was concerned and I had to ask one of the carers about it, because it is important for me to get my treatment at regular intervals. It was sorted and I remained calm as I waited.

In this Care Home there are a variety of inmates with various difficulties. Some are more serious than others, but whatever their circumstance I try to treat everyone the same as far as I can, acknowledging their needs and difficulties. For example one lady wanted to sit in the gardens so she could smoke a cigarette, so I gave up my seat for her to use it. Anywhere else would have been quite difficult for her but for me it was easy to move. But then more folk were starting to smoke and with the Formula One motor race starting soon I went back inside and to my room, where I listened to the live radio commentary. I was tired afterwards but it was all really relaxing.

I was starting to feel much better and as a result started moving around more. Sadly it was a mistake, I was trying to do far too much too soon. In the early hours of the morning I woke up and had an epileptic fit, in my case a myoclonic seizure which only lasted a few seconds. I was conscious all the time and had no after-effects, but I had a restful day and told the nurse in the Care Home what had happened. I was fine afterwards, but it was a warning to me to not try and do too much too soon!

Some years ago I was likened by a friend to be as a swan, looking all calm above the water as I swam through life, but in the waters below my feet were paddling like crazy. At that time it was true, but I have learned to calm down and be at peace in myself. I have realised that when I am no longer in this world it will not stop as a result, life will go on and I must therefore make the most of whatever time I may in fact have.

About twenty years ago a friend told me about an author, teacher and philosopher named Srinivas Arka. I was invited to one of his talks and began learning about his method of relaxation therapy which he calls Arka Dhyana. I learned the basics of it and found it most useful. Over the years it has helped me stay calm in a variety of stressful situations, especially recently. It is something I shall write a bit more about. For me though it has shown how vital it is to be able to relax in body, mind and spirit.

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Lost and Found

17 July 2020

When I became ill, I was collected from my flat and taken to hospital. The clothes I had been wearing were removed, so all the time I was in hospital I just wore a nightgown.

I was moved to a Care Home, so a friend brought me some clothes from my home, but when it became time to move me to a different Care Home a while later all my personal items were put in plastic bags and taken to the ambulance. Except the bag containing absolutely all my clothes simply disappeared. So all I had to wear were the clothes I was wearing. As a result, a friend had to go out and buy new clothes for me, but with many shops shut as a result of Covid, that wasn’t easy. I complained and over the next few days some clothes were found, but each time none of them were mine. My own clothes were never found.

Care homes provide a laundry service and at the first one this worked well, but on being moved again I lost a few items. Where I am now the plan is for my clothes to be marked, probably with my name and perhaps my room number, so that problem will not occur again.

I had been taking regular medication since my first epileptic fit in 1973, so I was well used to taking tablets on time and ensuring I had regular stocks of all the items. When I was moved recently from one Care Home to another, I had a call from a close friend to say that the old Care Home still had some of my tablets at the old place. I was assured that sufficient tablet stocks were at the new place but I then was advised a few days later that this was not the case! The manager of this Care Home wasn’t happy but went and got tablets for me. It meant I took my morning doses late that day, at around 11:00am.

I was also advised that I could now leave the room and join the other inmates for my lunch, which I did. It was the furthest I had walked in over three months. During lunch I saw how dementia affects different folk. One lady clearly didn’t want to drink all of the juice she had been given, so carefully got a napkin, folded it and poured some of the juice she had been given into the napkin. I realised it gave the appearance that she had drunk more juice than she really had! I am sure the carers saw what she had done though.

Afterwards I sat in the tv lounge for an hour or so, then I returned to my room. I was a bit tired. As a result I had my tea in my room and rested as usual. Over the next few days I continued doing this, one day sitting in the gardens for a while. The sun was lovely and hot, I’d not been in the fresh air for such a long time. I was really weary at the end of each day but I slept well and was slowly feeling stronger.

I also had a chat with a nurse in the home about how I was coping mentally. Back in the hospital I was quite emotional at times but now I was feeling more settled with how my life was. I was chatting with a few people and having a laugh at things. For a while it seemed I had lost even myself, but I was back – I had found myself again.

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Our Caring Community

10 July 2020

I hadn’t been taking good care of myself for a little while, I’d been eating the wrong foods, mainly ‘instant’ microwave meals that didn’t provide a varied diet. I wasn’t exercising enough either, so as a result in March of this year I collapsed. Because my neighbours hadn’t seen or heard anything of me for a while, thankfully they entered my flat but found me collapsed on the floor.

I was rushed into Leicester Royal Infirmary where it was found I had major heart problems along with kidney failure and it was necessary for me to have electric shocks to get my heart rhythm back to normal. Once stabilised I was transferred to the General hospital, where I stayed for a while before being transferred to the Clarendon ward in the Evington Centre, Leicester. There I was found to have the Covid-19 virus and I was later moved to a specialist unit on Lutterworth Road. I was kept in isolation for quite some time but eventually moved to a Care Home in the Braunstone area of Leicester and after two weeks was found to be Covid negative. This meant I was moved again to another Care Home, this time not too far from Oadby where I am likely to stay  until a more permanent place can be found for me to live.

It is a challenge for me though, getting used to the other ‘inmates’ at this place because some have dementia, so are calling out for help or for their mother, etc. There is a fairly strict routine to be followed here, with most folk being put to bed around 9pm and woken in the mornings between 7 and 8am. I have made it clear that I am used to doing as much as I can for myself, thankfully all this has been accepted, but it is taking some getting used to.

For me, all these events have required more than a little acceptance to change in my life. What I have found though is that all the staff, (nurses, carers etc), that I’ve seen in the last few months have been caring and helpful, despite being under great pressure at times. They don’t always get things done as quickly as perhaps some might like, but things do get done.

I give grateful thanks to all those who have kept in touch with me at this difficult time – thank you, one and all! I am slowly regaining my strength and in time, when circumstances for me and in the outside world permit, I will rejoin the wider community. In the meantime, whilst being an inmate here and in solitary confinement (for a while yet, anyway!) I will continue doing what I can, providing further updates on events etc.

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10 July 2020

This isn’t about an ‘inmate’ as you might first think of the word. That word is usually associated with people in prison, but it reminded me of war films where folk can be kept in isolation and this feels to me like it is a war we are fighting. So this is the ongoing diary of me. I had to go into hospital for several weeks, then I was moved between a few different Care Homes where I was kept in isolation because of the Covid virus. Happily I was finally declared free of that. To begin with I was bed-bound and needed a great deal of care, but things are beginning to improve. Slowly.

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