It is Saturday 26th as I write this, the first day of a national three-day holiday. For the likes of myself who is now retired it means very little as I consider myself to be permanently on holiday! Not strictly true of course but I do feel that way most of the time. Time on my hands is something I have a plenty now and I can pick and choose whatever I wish to do. In recent times I have been very busy engaged in my projects at home which for the moment and whilst the weather is good I have on hold. I find though that I am itching to do something even in the hot weather. I am thankful therefore that I have a couple of gardens to look after, the smaller one at the front and the larger at the rear of the house. Neither of them could be considered small by comparison to the average garden size though the front one takes far less maintenance than the rear one. Today would have been a day for pottering about in the gardens where I can always find something to do but when I awoke this morning my neighbour was in my thoughts. If my readers will remember she is in hospital with chronic lung disease and the prognosis isn’t good. The doctors have given her possibly only three more months to live. She was supposed to be coming home last week then early this past week and now (as I write) it looks like it will be the next week. When it happens she will be receiving palliative care and arrangements are in place. E and I would have paid her more visits but for the fact we thought she would be home sooner and now it has been put back again.
We visited her soon after she had been admitted and this morning I said to E that I think we should visit again now that we knew she wouldn’t be home for a few more days. We drove to the hospital and spent a few hours at her bedside. She looked so much better than at our previous visit and she admitted to feeling much better too. We missed lunch without noticing the passage of time and it was after four o’clock before we found ourselves back at home. I sat out on the patio for an hour or so before returning indoors to prepare a meal. I think about my neighbour stuck in the hospital and unable to enjoy the fine weather we have been having and hope she won’t have to stay there much longer. I guess holidays mean very little to her too nowadays.
Not me, it was E Apart from going for a walk and popping in next door to fix my neighbour’s light I remained at home. I was up, showered, dressed and eating my breakfast before nine o’clock just as E was coming down the stairs. I ate a breakfast because going for a walk had been deferred for an hour or so. I usually don’t eat a breakfast now if I am taking an early walk but just an item of fruit, most often a banana. I had promised my neighbour I would see what was wrong with her light so after breakfast that is what I did. The problem had been caused by the old tungsten lamps originally supplied with the fittings and over the years the heat produced by the lamps affected the electrical circuit between the lamp and the contacts. Modern LED lamps produce little heat whilst providing the same amount of light. I carried out some adjustments until finally the light worked. I returned home and prepared for my walk. Meanwhile E received a telephone call telling her that her mom wasn’t feeling well. She said she would most probably be late returning and I was to go for my walk. A couple of hours later I returned home and the phone rang. It was E letting me know that her mom had been taken to hospital again. She had been in hospital a couple of times in the last year or two. I ate lunch then went into the garage, the one where my van is parked and where we store the scaffolding tower, cement mixer, wheelbarrow, mower and numerous other things like bicycles. At the moment there are some wooden pallets and I was about to start dismantling them for the timber. Have you ever tried breaking down pallets without destroying them? With the best intentions I dismantled just the one but unfortunately couldn’t salvage some of it. Still, I managed to salvage about twelve pieces of usable timber each about a metre in length. Once that was done I stopped for the day. It was then three-thirty. I will do some more when the moment seizes me. As I wrote this at six-thirty in the evening I had still not heard any news from E and I feared the worst. It is now Tuesday and we received information that E’s mom is back home after the doctors gave her a clean bill of health. She is today (8th) 90 years old and still going strong.
For once I was first up on Saturday morning though by the time I had showered, dressed and put on my make-up to go downstairs E had beaten me to it. Our youngest son had stopped overnight but he didn’t get downstairs until much later. The post had been delivered early and strangely there were three letters, one for each of us. I opened mine to find enclosed a cheque for an over payment on an insurance I had made. Although it was my money and not a windfall or prize it was still a nice surprise. It meant however a trip to town in order to bank it. I was going for a walk anyway so it wasn’t an inconvenience. E opened her letter and read it before giving it to me to read also. She had won a cash prize of two hundred pounds ostensibly to spend in a Michelin starred restaurant for two people with a further one hundred and fifty pounds to cover expenses in getting there. A cheque for three hundred and fifty pounds made out to cash. She could spend it as she wished. The third letter turned out only to be a bank statement. I congratulated her on her win, something I have done many times over the last few years as she is always winning prizes of one sort or another. I took the walk into town and after depositing the cheque I stopped at a church café to have a coffee before walking back home. It was after twelve o’clock when I got back and E was eating a couple of items of fruit and she was now dressed to go to her group’s monthly meeting. She had been complaining over the last few days about a pain and the swelling of her left foot. I had advised her a day or two earlier to see the doctor in case it had been broken but she had insisted she hadn’t had an accident to cause it. I suggested she didn’t go to the meeting but rest her foot but she had decided by then to visit the hospital to have it checked. The doctor’s surgery isn’t open on a Saturday afternoon so it had to be the hospital. Naturally I drove her to the hospital but I didn’t wait there. I drove out of the hospital to park elsewhere to avoid paying parking fees and waited for almost two hours. She was to call me when her treatment was over. I drove off to the garden centre to spend an hour there and still she hadn’t called me so I drove back, parked up and walked into the outpatients department to see if her treatment was over. The waiting room was full, the average waiting time for minor problems was three hours and for major problems two and a half hours! More than three hours had passed since I had dropped her off and fortunately her treatment by then was just about over. I walked back to collect the van and she was outside waiting. They had X-rayed the foot and found it wasn’t broken or fractured but couldn’t say with any certainty what the problem was though E had mentioned she had been bitten by an insect. Perhaps it was just the reaction to that but it put her on crutches until it clears up. She is having a bad time of it with her other condition (spina-bifida) without now having to put up with this inconvenience too. I had missed lunch, something I am well used to, so by the time we arrived back home at five-thirty I was rather hungry. We ate our meal and that was the day almost over.
Once in a while a good idea crops up. Our Government is always bemoaning the fact that our NHS (National Health System) is short on funds. It is often stated that there are too many demands on the system, too many people needing medical treatment and too few doctors and other staff. Medicines cost money and so do staff but there always seems too little money to fund it all. Whilst I take no part in what the Government do I often wonder why they waste money on other things, wars for example but that is another story. More money would be available to fund the equipment that many hospitals lack if the cash wasn’t wasted elsewhere. One of the main problems is the volume of patients; people don’t look after themselves, we are told that we are turning into a nation of couch potatoes. It is one thing being ill but when it is self-inflicted because of lifestyle perhaps they should levy a fee to offset the cost. That very issue has been discussed recently but as yet nothing has been decided. Maybe it never will, there are arguments both for and against the idea. It would encourage us all to take better care of ourselves should there be a charge for services. I suppose that these days there is really no excuse for not knowing how to look after ourselves, what to eat, how to exercise and so on. Many people just do not exercise or if they do they don’t do enough. Then along comes an idea that is admirably suited to such people and encourages them to take some form of exercise without them realising the good it is doing for their health. I am not suggesting that it is all that one should do to exercise but it gets even the most lazy off the couch! It is the Wii. It started as a simple games machine directed at children but it is becoming and is developing into an ideal tool for adult exercise regimes. Providing the software the machine uses is structured properly there are endless possibilities to encourage people to exercise. Perhaps one day we will be a more healthy nation by taking more care of ourselves and putting less strain on our NHS. Everyone will benefit from that and using a simple thing like the Wii is a step in the right direction. Personally I prefer using the treadmill and other gymnasium equipment but for those less able to do so or for simply marrying exercise with fun, the Wii is a good idea.