Monthly Archives: July 2013

Message from Maman Jenni

Dear all
As you may remember, I sent a penultimate e mail before leaving Toulon but failed to send the ultimate one. Now seems a good time to do so as we are all hoping that Russ will be repatriated tomorrow.  Saying “goodbye” to Russ on the evening before I left Toulon was very sad and the next day was even more emotional saying ‘goodbye” to Dani.  I feel as if we have all been on a long journey with Russ, the inevitable ups and downs during the nearly seven weeks since he was admitted to ‘Hopital ste. Anne”.  His recovery from his most terrible injuries have, in part, been due to his strength and fortitude and to the unwavering, dedicated care he has received by doctors and nurses alike.  Also I think the love and enduring support of his family and friends have gone a very  long way in determining his recovery. Russ has been cocooned in love by his parents, brothers, in laws and many fantastic friends.
Now, Dani!  Danielle has behaved with enormous courage, dignity and and unwavering strength, in what must be every wife’s worst nightmare.  She has been amazing with their beautiful daughters, finding the strength, during the worst moments, to talk to them nightly on the phone, keeping their spirits raised whilst gently, little by little expressing the seriousness of their Daddy’s injuries.  When each in turn arrived to visit, they were both quite amazing with Russ, a true testament to their mother’s strength.
So now we shall have a new chapter when Russ is repatriated to London Bridge Hospital and I. for one, believe with all my heart that Russ will continue to amaze us all.  Bon courage, Russ, we all love you.
Lastly, for Stuart’s eyes only!!! Please note that this e mail was written mid morning hence no errors or over exuberance!!!!
Dear love to you all
Jenni xxx

My visit to Monsieur Roussell 29th/30th July by NIcola Hodges

The departures hall at Marseille's airport is a fairly sterile, unprepossessing 'environ' in stark contrast to the warmth of the Toulon sea breezes and the warmth of Monsieur R's smile.
Over the last 2 days I have enjoyed the company of this extraordinary man, his superhuman, peerless wife Dani and stoic Dan and Saskia White ....who have quite possibly the most adorable 3 children in history.

Not forgetting a delightful new acquaintance; Oliver Smallman- who I bumped into on my arrival at the Holiday Inn. Oliver is a good friend of Dan Whites and we visited Russ together which caused R much circumspect musings and raised eyebrows. Now;whilst we are on the subject of eyebrows; how many of you have noticed what an impressive , 'Healy-esque' bushy set that Russ has?? At R's bidding I gave them a quick trim-they almost needed their own scaffolding beforehand - with Dani perfecting my work this morning.

M.Rousselle himself was on good form yesterday and we covered a wide variety of zany subjects as he is 80% coherent with his raspy mouthings with the other 20% made up of very legible inscribing.

Russ educated me on the fact that people's ears and noses keep growing throughout their lifetimes. I seriously did not know this. He informed me that the best playlist on spotify is 'Topsify' ; he expressed surprise that there was a shop in the hospital and quickly took Oliver up on his generous offer to purchase an I-phone from there to replace his 'Shite' temporary one.....then twinkled his eyes and said he was only joking!

We reminisced away about Russell's fall out of a tree in Chiswick on his 30th/35th?? birthday; leading me to ask a long awaited question of mine which was why he had felt the need to email pictures of his brutalised face to his entire contact list at the time. Russell positively lit up at this and asked asked with glee whether said photos had been posted on 'his' blog; my emphatic 'NO' rendered him very crestfallen.

Mr.R expressed sadness that he wasn't actually coming 'home' on Thursday(fingers crossed he is flying home then) but to 'another hospital' in the UK.

I believe that both Russ and Lily are allergic to animals and Russ to his chagrin has always discredited my passion for animals. However; i am shocked and delighted to report that even Russ showed(feigned) interest as I chattered on about a wheelchair-bound friend's 'carer dog'.
He could not believe that these dogs get their own seats on I attach proof...just for you Russ.

Indeed Mr.R's enthusiasm for having a 'carer dog' stretched to his asking me whether the soleros(that he is currently feasting on in hospital) could be delivered to him by the dog(well at least I think that's what his lascivious licking motions meant).
It was a pleasure to share my 3 hours of visiting time with Oliver Smallman; he was immensely upbeat, positive and reassuring to the great man himself and I am sure; raised his spirits no end plus I think we made a good double act.

I am almost sad to be leaving but they are calling my flight and I am looking forward to visiting as often as possible in the Uk

Love you so so much Russ
Love you so so much Dani(but less of the 'mad Nicola' title)
You are both truly inspirational

Signing off from ..the 'not so mad and ever so slightly boring now...' Nicola


Dotting the is and Crossing the ts

Still looking good for repatriation on Thursday. Lots of boxes to tick for everything to completely fall into place; hospital in Toulon have to be happy Russ is safe to fly, insurers have to sort all the logistics including, most importantly, having a jet with the appropriate equipment and medical team and then London Bridge Hospital has to also be (independently) satisfied that Russ is safe to travel and that they have sufficient information properly to prepare for his arrival into ICU. There is no obvious “connect” between these various channels, only me: as such, there is an awful lot of admin stuff to be sorted. In fact, it makes the Legal profession’s “Work Acceptance” Money Laundering processes look like a walk in the park (all lawyer mates will sympathise….:-s).

So, what else is new today? Various medical staff in Intensive Care are about to start their summer holidays. So, a few goodbyes to some really amazing people. They’ve all been invited to stay with us whenever they come to England and all seem very keen to accept our invitation – so look out for lots of lovely French people in London W4!

Tele and Nicola arrived today and, like most people who have seen Russ in the last week or so, have found it a very uplifting and positive experience. Russ loves seeing everyone and always puts in a maximum effort; although tiring, I think the stimulus of seeing different people each day is particularly important given that his days are otherwise governed by unwavering monotonous routine (same walls, same treatment, same interrupted sleep etc). He’s heard all about the blog and is dying to see it but no WiFi in the hospital in Toulon so he’ll have to wait till he gets to the 5 star accommodation at London Bridge Hospital for access to the blog. Mind you, he was amazed when I told him that Melissa says there have been 30,000 hits so far… At that rate, we should think about doing some advertising on the blog! :-s

So, fingers’ crossed for all to go according to plan for Thursday. I know everything is very scary for Russ at the moment but repatriation to London will be quite a significant step in a positive direction.

Nigh night, all xxxx

Excess Baggage

All progressing well in Toulon and the medical staff here (plus the insurers) are preparing Russ for air repatriation either tomorrow or Thursday. Russ will be flown back on a private medical jet from Toulon straight to an airport nearest to the London Bridge Hospital that they can get clearance to land at. I’m hoping to accompany him on that flight but it will depend on how big the accompanying medical team will be and the size of the particular jet that they have available for the transfer. Fingers’ crossed on that front (especially as it just won’t be fair if Russ has flown on a private jet and I haven’t! :-s ).

Russ is very keen to have all comms in place for when he arrives in London so with the undisputed talents of Andy Richards, we are making sure he has his iPhone, IPad and Mac linked up, upgraded and in super-functioning order. So, get ready for onslaught of texts and emails from the man himself….

Andy recently sent me the brilliant photo of Russ below under the strap line “Typical bonkers Russ”. Poor Andy popped over to pick up some glasses from our house earlier this year and was confronted by Russ looking like that!!!

Peeps out here with me at the moment are Dan, Saskia (and kiddies), Oli Smallman and Mad Nicola. Oli and Nicola saw Russ for the first time (post accident) last night and Oli described it as completely “uplifting” to see him and, in particular, to witness how amazing he is doing given where he was only 6 weeks ago.

Oh, and we’ve managed to engineer a haircut for Russ later today. One of the nurses is going to bring in some clippers. He’ll probably look like a jar head after but definitely preferable to looking like he was the inspiration for the male figure in the “Joy of Sex” books that were published in the 80s. Who remembers those………….? :-s

Love Dani xxxx

The photo I took of the dear boy just after Xmas. Classic bonkers Russ.

Thinking of you all – Russ, you, the girls, family and friends – everyday. 
Much love
Andy x

Vin Rouge

From Danibelle x:

Now that Russ is able to eat “normal” food, I arrived at the hospital with a bag of the local grocer’s finest fruit. This was clearly heavenly after 6 weeks on the “goo diet”.

Better still, the hospital catering tray then arrived incorporating a glass of red wine. Only in France! Anyway, Russ clearly hasn’t lost his discerning wine tastes as he had a sip of it and said it was crap! Luckily, help was on it’s way as a very old friend, Sian, arrived with a bottle of Châteauneuf-Du-Pape and a very nice Rose wine, both altogether more to Russ’s liking. So, a few sips of wine later, he was a very happy boy. Russ hadn’t seen Sian for 18 years so there was lots of reminiscing of old times and lots of catching up to be done. By the time lunchtime visiting hours came to an end, the poor guy was exhausted!

Later in the afternoon, Dan and Sas arrived with their gorgeous two boys and baby girl. The day before Dan had climbed the Dome de Miage in Chamonix (a 14 hour climb) which sounded like a gruelling slog (certainly his feet weren’t looking very pretty after the climb). That is one athletic endeavour that won’t be going on my “To Do” list….

So, evening visitors for Russ were me, Dan and Saskia. This is Dan’s 6th visit to see Russ in hospital here in Toulon. An almost “wifely” dedication, I would say (sorry, Dan, if that makes you sound a bit gay….:-s ).


Mission Possible


I literally was Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible  when I arrived at London City Airport this morning; I was armed with a coterie of  iPads, iPods, iPhones (all generations – as am too much of a techno moron to know what is now obsolete and what is still current so thought I’d just grab the lot), a kindle,  a “pay as you go ” mobile handset and a travel-DVD player. Basically, every communication/entertainment device known to mankind. All because “Monsieur” is keen to get his hands on his gadgetry (not intended to be a euphemism for anything rude by the way…..).

Bearing in mind the last time I saw Russ (6 days ago), he was face-down in an induced coma, it was truly brilliant to see him awake and sitting upright. He seems to have mastered the feat of very successfully communicating by “mouthing words” (with pen & paper back-up when needed) and so we chatted endlessly for 4 hours. He outwitted me a couple of times during the evening (yeah, I know, not hard….) so any earlier concerns regarding potential brain damage have completely subsided.

We had a chat with the very charming  (middle-age woman speak for “tasty” :-s ) Dr Bordes and he is still currently of the view that Russ should be OK to be repatriated by air ambulance either Wednesday or Thursday this coming week. He will go straight into intensive Care at London Bridge Hospital to continue treatment of his respiratory issues which still require him to remain on the ventilator. I was assured that these issues are improving albeit slowly. 

The only issue of immediate concern is Russ’s hair. He is currently sporting a “70’s porn-style” look. Not his finest look…..

Love Danielle xxxx 

Lilster’s Bday x

Am update July 26th 

Today is Lily’s  birthday.  Happy birthday lovely Lily!  Russell is looking forward to hearing your voice on the telephone this evening. We shall all shed a few tears.
To our great delight Russ was very awake, aware and was even cracking a few jokes this morning. 
The nurse was telling us that his priority was enabling  Russ to return home.  He explained that the change in pressure during take off and landing would adversely affect  Russell in his present condition. Russell responded in writing on his white pad…..’no probs, I will cycle home…….’.  We all laughed.  later he asked me what the NHS was like prewar……. I know that I am over 40 but….!   We were delighted as you can imagine. He managed to drink two cartons of orange juice and, when we left, was looking forward to his ….mashed…..lunch . A mashed lunch is a first for Russell.  The gastric tube is still in place but,  if he can cope with a mashed lunch, it will be removed soon. 
The two hours spent with him were a real boost for us. We are looking forward to 4.00 pm when we visit again today. Further update later so watch this space 

Message From Sarah Frankum from hers and Larry’s visit earlier in the week;

Larry and I arrived last Tuesday afternoon and were expecting Russ to still be sedated so we were delighted to find him wide awake. We hadn`t seen him for 4 weeks and were amazed at his progress as although the pneumonia had knocked him sideways the old Russ was definitely there. Over the next few days, although very tired at times, he continued to improve and communicated by mouthing and writing. He loved hearing about all the support from home and was staggered when we showed him the calender so he could see how many friends and family had been out to visit him as his short term memory seems to be very hazy. However this also appears to be improving as he was able to recall certain things over our visit – he remembered from the Wednesday to the Thursday that a royal baby had been born and even enlightened us on the choice of name. He has definitely not lost his sense of humour – for example – I am reading a text to him from my phone at which point he asks Larry for some paper, looks at me and writes “Get some f**king glasses” as I am clearly struggling to read the small print!! We left after seeing Russ Thursday afternoon with more positive news of a hopeful repatriation next week which Wonder Wife Dani is busy sorting – in fact another comment Russ wrote down to Larry was, “I wish you were as lucky as me with my wife”. No offense taken Mr Dawkins!!!!

Mummy Dawkins PM (prime minister…)

Part 2
We returned to the hospital après lunch to find Russell under going thoracic vibration ,we were banned for an hour. At 5.15 we were readmitted to find Russell looking very OK thank goodness. He complained that he was feeling hungry and wanted to ‘ order lunch ‘ which we did for him. Lunch provided was very appetizing  ‘ soup ‘ ,’ mashed potatoes and diced ham’ , ‘trifle’ ,  ‘ semolina ‘ and a drink. Wow , a bit of a change from a nasal drip feed ! But where was the wine that we had ordered? He can have some on Monday apparently !!
He managed to drink all the soup plus large amounts of mashed potato and ham plus some trifle. Well done Russ, really excellent.
He talked to us for the whole time . 
At 5.40 pm lily rang Russ to tell him about her birthday and her drama performance . Amber followed with her account of the day. His face was a picture of happiness, it was tearful for us to watch.
However, he was very tired by 7.30 and wanted to sleep and so we left a little before 8.00 feeling happier than we had for a very long time. Well done Russ.
It has been an eventful and emotional week for us and for Russ too.
Roy was there when we arrived on Tuesday. He was a great support to both Russ and to us. Sarah and Larry arrived on Tues and were invaluable, today was our only full day with Russ on our own. 
Russ has leapt forwards from Tuesday to today. We can leave tomorrow feeling much happier than when we arrived last Tuesday
Dani will be very happy with the progress that he has made since she saw him last Sunday
Am signing off as blog writer Melissa. Lol Di xxxxxxxxxxxxx

White Cliffs of Dover

From Mummy Dawkins

Huge improvement this am . Russ, although very quiet, is totally with it. We have arranged for Russ to speak to Lily on her birthday tomorrow. Although he cannot speak because of the tracheotomy, he can listen to her voice which, I quote, ‘will be lovely’. We bought him an ice cream which he enjoyed although we had to finish it for him. He knows that Dani is returning on sat but it is almost impossible for him to appreciate time. All we can do is constantly reassure him that today is Thursday, tomorrow is Friday, Lily’s birthday and the next day he will see his darling wife, Dani.
Poor Russ, he is living in a void where night and day have merged and where, every so often, loving family and friends appear from nowhere to support him.
We have just heard from Dani that as long as Russell’s lungs continue to improve he will be able to return to the UK towards the end of next week which is wonderful news.
 Bob and I have just enjoyed a lunch with Sarah and Larry sitting outside under a leafy French tree. Just what the doctor ordered,I think. More news later .


Russ was very sleepy this pm…almost too tired to speak or to write on his white board. Quite obviously, he is affected by his pneumonia . He has had a blood transfusion which should help him. He is looking forward to hearing birthday Lily,s voice on the phone tomorrow.
 We were asked to leave him an hour earlier so that he could be sedated to help him sleep well tonight.
Lol. Dianne
(The iPad up and coming genius and her advisor in everything but iPads – young Robert who thinks that an iPad is something worn by a pirate xxxxx)

Wednesday 24th – Bob and Di

This morning we found Russ very much calmer than yesterday. We explained that he was experiencing some drug withdrawal symptoms which he understood and accepted. Russell was wearing a pad around his chest which vibrates for a short period of time six times a day. The vibrations move the mucus around in his lungs which frees it allowing it to be sucked out. This is not a very pleasant procedure for Russell but is preferable to physiotherapy which he finds very painful. Further update this pm


Bob and I shared the afternoon and evening visiting time with Sarah and Larry. Russell was quite subdued. We massaged his shoulders and neck which seemed to make him more comfortable. Russ had a further session with the thoracic vibrator to bring up the mucus so that he could breathe more easily. This exhausted him but he rallied around before we left him. The nurses have told us that his pneumonia is responding to the course of antibiotics which is excellent news. We are hoping that he will feel much better tomorrow. 

Message from Jayne Creamer:

Hi Russ,
From reading the blog it sounds like you are showing some
true 'Russ form' in being annoyed and annoying - such a relief for us to
read ;) I can't believe that there is no mention of the biggest news -
no not the Lions caning the Wallabies - but the birth of the Little
Prince! who isn't a ginger - so you lost that bet - thanks, Ad and I
look forward to the beers you now owe us. Current debate is the name -
we have $2.50 on 'Kanye'.
As has been mentioned, Froome did win the
tour and in emphatic style - supported by an awesome team including the
fabulous Aussie package of Richie Porte. Felt sorry for poor Mark
Cavendish who seemed to be served a rough deal due to the fact that he's
only managed to win 15 stages this season not the 18 he did last
season.... what a slacker. 
There's some big cricket comp going on
too - the Ashes - I believe it's named. Can' tell you much about it as
they don't talk about it over here. 
Lots of love big boy, Ads and Jayne xxxx


Message from Roy Merrit:
I went to St. Anne’s Hospital this morning and was greeted by a nurse who told me that Russ would be sedated all of today and tomorrow so had a quiet morning.
After a peaceful lunch in Toulon old town I returned to the hospital and met Diana, Russ’s mum, and together we met his doctor to discuss his status and how his repatriation might work. Russ’s dad Bob then joined us and we went to his ward to be amazed on finding Russ completely awake and quite lucid.  He was able to communicate through speech for the most part though frustrated that this wasn’t easy, and if necessary was able to write down his questions/commands. We discussed his accident and I showed him some pictures but he has no recollection of the day itself but he does remember people and events from before then. He is evidently ‘with it’ though this brings it’s own challenges as he is finding the bed very uncomfortable and is dissatisfied with what he can do to get the nursing staff to address his various concerns. So this was really encouraging as the real Russ is clearly back, but an intro to the coming period as he tries to adjust to his new environment and situation. 
Larry and Sarah were also there so along with Bob and Diana Russ will not be short of support in the coming days.  The main problem that the doctors explained was that he has pneumonia in his lungs and this must be overcome before any substantial physical progress can be made. But he is now on an anti-biotic course for this and hopefully the next few days will show an improvement in this area. 
Thanks to Roy for the above. 
Russ has been on very strong pain killers since the outset; it is highly likely amongst this cocktail of drugs Morphine has been given too.  Morphine is a derivative of Heroin/Opium and the patient will usually experience some ‘come down’ when he is weened off the pain killer.  Some of the symptoms might be itchiness,  restlessness, irritability, loss of appetite, body aches, severe abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, tremors.  I imagine that the French nurses will not be able to convey to Russ that if he is experiencing these feelings that it is part and parcel of the withdrawal.  In addition it is quite common for patients coming out of sedation to experience frequent nightmares.  Russ may have had some nightmares and I suspect this might have explained his fascination with the cabinet at the end of his bed as he came round from his long induced coma a couple of weeks ago.  It may be a good idea for visitors to help Russ to understand that he might be experiencing these symptoms because of the drugs and to explain that they are all quite common and  that he will get through this stage once he is ‘weened off the drugs’. xxxx