All posts by Russ

April 20th 2018

Well it’s not plain sailing,  moving to another country where you don’t know anyone,  and rather restricted by being too physically messed up to do things that you actually would love to do.

I feel myself sliding a bit, I must say. That was predictable, wasn’t it really?

Perhaps my choice of distraction hasn’t been ideal… so far I’ve listened to a detailed audiobook account of the horrors of The Nazi Final Solution – ‘ Auschwitz – a doctor’s eyewitness account ‘ a book that everyone in the world  ( over 16 ? ) ought read. It was mesmerising and compelling listening but for all the wrong reasons. It is literally beyond comprehension what Hitler made happen there, and in other similar concentration camps.

Then i totally inadvertently watched The Book Thief – more Nazi death  and Anti Semitism.

Then Hostel – a Tarantino horror which is about as sick as it gets, and everyone gets killed  – though the fiction in no way even compared to the reality of Auschwitz

My endless email commitments to my housing intentions go on and on, as well as my ‘ other legal situation ‘ in hand, my inability to use my Mountain Trike as I used to does get to me – the surgeon that rendered me far more unable than I was, when i committed myself to having my Back straightened, is in my mind quite a lot, as I struggle badly to self propel that exercise chair. How I ended up like this is ( in my opinion, and possibly that of other qualified professionals ) just criminal – when it was sold to me as making my life better…

So things are not all ok, I’d say. I’ll be here until at least late June before I’m likely to be able to do anything else, and that’s a long time, long enough to unhinge me if I’m not careful, though I’m not sure what the answer is.  Coming back for a bit is hardly straightforward, as the flights and transfers themselves are just unpleasant, and when I get back I’d have nowhere suitable to go, anyway, so it’s probably best avoided, on balance.

Of course I haven’t eased off on the prescribed antidepressants, knowing full well in the back of my head that optimism was probably a bit misplaced really. The weather isn’t even good, which is a bit of a surprise- that supposedly being the guaranteed consolation prize.

One of my University friends has what is probably terminal cancer, which is let’s face it going to happen to more and more contemporaries of mine, given the statistics. I’ve been in touch and had a response though I sense all ahead is going to be worse for him than it currently is. The thoughts that he will be having will be familiar ones to me, these last 5 years.

Someone else I know is being buried today- this person actually crossed the road to avoid me after seeing me in my wheelchair after my release from hospital, much to my sadness. Today he is hopefully surrounded by people who would not have crossed the road to avoid him, had he been struck down, but who knows … funerals can be attended by people who perhaps just felt guilty in real life for not keeping in touch whilst the deceased was alive, as well as those truly compassionate who might attend.

I went to my schoolmate’s funeral on April 6th in Wales, as I’m sure i wrote, but perhaps i didn’t – we missed the moving church service by being delayed on the M4 from London, but Ian ( if you believe in such things ) would have known I was there at the cremation, paying my respects and saying things to him inside my mind.  It was good to see a few old school friends- particularly Charlie- who apparently reads this diary, and Leigh, as well as my Mum and Dad and brother Stu.

Ashley thought my slightly awry sense of humour was peculiar to me…until she met the rest of my family (!)

Im trying dairy and gluten free to see what that does for me, after advice from Brian the Quadraplegic – who really is quite a clever guy, I must say. Brian was paralysed jumping into a lake on a supervised adventure holiday, at 15, so really knows what a terrible life changer it is, yet really is an inspiration to me, i must say. I’d hoped to be able to buy a home near him in London, but there was no way that I could afford Battersea prices, ultimately, so visits will have to do.

Christ I know all that reads a tad negatively ( because it is ) but hey, I’ll bounce back hopefully soonish.



Blimey – tonight we are going to a restaurant. It’s the second time in 18 months that I’ve done that, the last time being on NYE. Actually, that’s not strictly true, as I’ve had a few pizzas with Marky P in the last few months, and a pizza with Ashley a month ago, just the once. Oh, and I shared a pizza with Pia pre gig, twice  in Camden .

Its a chicken n chips place, and we’ll go there by bicycle, so not exactly flash, but the less you do stuff the most you appreciate it when you do, right? I might even have a glass of wine, but no certainty, having had maybe 2 pints of beer in a month, which is a good thing in times of potential emotional stress. Daft really that so many people do the opposite, and try to drink their way through stress, or think that drink is a solution – well it’s not, is it? The drugs don’t work, they just make it worse… as someone once sang.

Funny what people do to make themselves feel better, knowing that what they’re doing will only make it worse. Drinkers drink, over eaters eat more et etc. As I eat like a sparrow, thé latter cant possibly happen, and I’ve made a conscious decision to avoid the former, so that bit of my life I definitely have control over. Other bits, it would seem not ever for some, and not for the foreseeable, with others.

But i am lookin forward to the chicken. It is raining so we’ll get wet on the way. Never mind.

Day 4.

Thé sun has come out today, which is welcome. 

Ashley helped me to oil and get working the Mountain Trike wheelchair which is self propelled through pump action. Since my extra fixation it’s more difficult to use, as my body is pushed back by my metalwork so much, but I can tell that my aerobic fitness is awful compared to the last time I was able to use it. It takes me back to being in Stoke Mandeville hospital and trying to propel my wheelchair for the first times, having lost all my muscle and being in a coma. The shock of being so physically weak was a nightmare scenario for me, having always been so strong.

From now on then I’ll use it every day. The improvements should come fast, and i want to be less reliant on sleeping tablets to sleep. Being more physically tired will make a big difference in that need to sleep. Sleeping tablets are addictive, and I’m sure that I’m addicted to mine, having taken them every night for 18 months.

Lets see what happens.

Day 3 here.

So every now and then when I irrigate my insides, i get all this black stuff that comes out.

Google says that if it’s black then it’s most likely to be blood, but what I get isn’t ‘ tarry’, rather it’s like horse manure – if you have ever smelt or looked at mature when its old, its really fibrous and full of vegetable matter, and doesn’t really smell like poo. Well that’s what comes out of me – as though it’s stuff that’s been there for ages, deep within me, fermenting away. I’m definitely bloated, and have been for a long time now. I’d hoped that having a stoma would make all the bowel stuff more straightforward rather than less, but it hasn’t – it is different, and overall better than before I’d say,but straightforward it is definitely not. I never really know what’s going to happen day to day with it, but live in hope that one day it might settle. Perhaps once all this black stuff is out ( if indeed there is a pocket of it inside me somewhere ) it’ll get better, but I really don’t know.


On  another note, it was fantastic to briefly see Ken Curtis thé other day – Ken, what a lovely, sincere fella you are ( praise indeed, given he’s an American ! ) I value every message i get from Ken – hes one of the Good Guys for sure.

Good to see Miles Watson too – ive known him since he was a newborn, and now he’s 21 I think – and a great lad. Good to see Neal, and Larry before I left the UK, and Dan too, who is always there in the background keeping an eye on me, so to speak.  I miss doing normal stuff with my old mates – skiing, cycling in particular. This time of year they all go skiing and I find it hard to even listen to them telling me about it. I can’t however pretend that the world doesn’t go on, and if they were paralysed and I wasn’t, I’d definitely still be skiing and talking about it to them. I sold my ski boots 2 days ago for a pittance, but they went to a mate, and they weren’t any good to me anymore, so it doesn’t really matter – but still it hurts ( quite a lot, inside)


Actually it’s not a lot warmer, and it rains too, but hey, the weather has never been something I really think about – obviously I’m not that British ? – after all, you can’t do anything at all about the weather, so why talk about it at all? You just have to dress properly, which is the bit I invariably get wrong – always wearing too few clothes is my error. Pre injury it didn’t matter, but now that I get  far colder because I can’t move lots of me, I get colder much more easily, which actually does bother me psychologically as well as more physically – I just don’t like it that I cannot tolerate the cold anymore, even though it’s bloody obvious that I can’t possibly be expected to.

Anyway, I made it to the Algarve – the day of all my possessions being moved out coincided with me having to go and have lots of X-Rays in hospital ( as I’ve been convinced that my fixation in my spine is moving again ) As usual, my days are never easy – moving is supposed to be about the most stressful thing you do, but in my case I get a bit of extra pressure on top just for good measure, with a 4 hour chunk of the same day being dedicated to hospital stuff.

As I need so much stuff every day for my paralysis thing, I couldn’t possibly commit to everything being moved out on the same day, so the next day, as well as leaving the country to live elsewhere, there was lots of packing of my essential stuff to do, and then taking that with me to the airport, as well as taking stuff and putting it into storage, before midday. And oh, also that day I took delivery of a different car, as I found it ever so difficult to get in and out of the one I had, after all the titanium was added to my spine 18 months ago. We used the car, which is like a Mr Magoo car, to go to the airport, with 3 large bags packed in around me ( full of paralysis typa survival stuff ). It’s a car that I wheelchair into the back of, up a ramp, and then stay in the chair for the ride. I am in the back, so not driving it, so my Carer has to do that bit, as well as fixing all the clamps to my wheelchair before driving off, but overall it’s ‘ easier’ and will definitely mean I can go further than I currently do, with less complication than I currently have. Once I’ve pimped it up a bit, with a full body karma sutra images  car wrap, spot lights on the front, and a bangin sound system, it’ll be a real head turner, like a Gangsta PopeMobile… tho of course I’ll have to run those modifications by the Motability Scheme that provided it.

Now in Portugal, i have slept a fait bit more than I normally do, 2 days in,and tried to reduce my spasms by getting help to turn onto my front whilst in bed, so that my stiff legs get stretched in a different way, from their normal seized up position of bent in the chair all day, or semi bent in bed, as they just don’t straighten, and I can’t make them, obviously.

Tonight we’ve been out for a cycle ( me on the Triride ) in the dark, Ashley and hér Lovely son ( thank God they were with me too, to help massively on the last day, and to make the huge transition far more palatable ) down to the beach boardwalk, which was cut short by the cold, but was nonetheless pretty cool to be honest. Without the big city light pollution that im now used to, it is seriously dark when it’s dark, which is how it is supposed to be, after all. My bike lights     in real darkness assume a different use from their use in London, which is almost purely to prevent you being run over by a bus, or motorist in a hurry to get back 2 Minutes earlier than he/ she otherwise would.

My various legal ‘ battles ‘ continue no matter where I am in the world, though im conscious already how much less im inclined to use my phone, other than for essential admin that I can’t avoid or ignore.

Ive been drinking mint tea, using mint from outside the place hère, in a teapot, which did have an unusual flavour. Having just stirred the pot, it turned out there was ‘ something extra ‘ on those leaves- a large caterpillar  – maybe some more careful checking before we make the next pot….?

P Day.

So today I move to Portugal.

Who’d have thought it? I leave what was supposed to have been the matrimonial home, in Chiswick, for an apartment in the Algarve. It’s not going to be permanent I hope, but hey you never know.

I have mixed feelings, but ultimately I had no choice at all, so I’m being as positive as I can be.

Its definitely warmer there, though I’m not supposed to sit in the sun – or i get a bloody big hat that doesn’t blow off as I can’t bend down to pick it up if it does…

Thank you.

To Cress and Toby for throwing me a surprise leaving party/ drinks

Very touched to see everyone, and also for them all to meet Ashley.

Today the removal guys came, but thanks so much for Dan’s guy’s significant (!) help, as well as Hanna’s, Krisztina’s and Ashley’s.


Big love.