Monthly Archives: February 2020


To help with transferring me from wheelchair to bed and back, and wheelchair to another wheelchair, and as I can’t do this myself since I was filled with metalwork, I now have 2 electric hoists. One’s in my bedroom and one is outside under cover on the terrace ( as I just don’t have room inside ) One is powered by a rechargeable battery and the other charges via the mains. Both however stop working when there’s a charging issue, and there’s no manual override or anything to enable me to go upwards. Occasionally I’m sort of halfway up and the hoist will start to beep, or just stop, and I’m left dangling. That’s ok if someone is there, but as I don’t always have assistance there it’s the case that sometimes I’m a bit buggered and by myself. The other day I was outside, it was bloody cold and the thing stopped about a foot up and a foot short of where I needed it. I managed to reach something to one side and hauled myself over to the right position, but it’s touch and go at best. I’ve decided to buy manual chain block and tackle hoists that are used in construction instead. Well they aren’t pretty but they are going to be reliable, and stop me being bloody stranded.
On the same topic, 2 nights ago I went outside to crack a coconut ( like you do ) against the railing on the terrace. Well there’s nothing hard enough indoors, hence my choice. I have to go side on to the railings and then smash the nut. It was dark and one wheel went into the soil flowerbed. … which I sort of ignored. But then when I tried to wheel away I couldn’t. I was stuck fast in the mud, tilted to one side and in the dark. Well bloody hell, I was pulling as hard as I could on the wheel rims and then the railing, trying to dislodge myself for about 10 minutes. It was dark, very cold and I just had a t shirt on. Because I have so much metal in my back I can’t turn my torso so my directions of travel are limited to forward and back, whereas I needed to go diagonally. Obviously I contemplated shouting for help but then I have the gamble of who jumps over the wall to help, perhaps opting to just leave me stranded and instead just rob me.. well you never know, right? Anyway after a shit load of effort, but definitely seeming to sink lower in the mud, I managed to escape , though unbelievably in the process managed to tangle a wheel in the solar lighting wires… and that’s a casualty.

Yet another lesson learned then. Life is a journey for sure!


I realised last night that I had a UTI. It’s been a while since one has got hold of me, and for a few hours I suppose I didn’t want to acknowledge it ( don’t know why that was ). I had gone to listen to a talk at the Royal Geograpical Society but my legs were spasming non stop in a familiar but thankfully not so familiar anymore way.
From about now, almost a day later, I feel ok again. I double dosed on antibiotic dose and as my urologist advised previously, that has had a rapid effect. What I realise now though, and is very sobering to realise, is how badly a UTI affects me. Last night seems really hazy to me, as though it was a dream. I recall going to the Royal Geograpical Society, I recall being there and in the audience in front of the speaker, a famous explorer, but I don’t recall anything he said, am aware of a feeling of panic, of being afraid and vulnerable and unhappy, of being able to think about nothing but stopping the spasms somehow, of not being able to think or speak coherently, and just wanting to get away.

I got myself back and somehow managed to remove the catheter from my abdomen and change it for another one ( something a nurse or doctor normally does ) because I suspected it just wasn’t draining properly ( and yes it did look all blocked up ) and finding my antibiotics, and feeling tearful, and calling Wendy and asking her to please help me, which of course she did, and having feelings of being unwanted and alone, and worthless and pointless, but trying to rationalise these feelings in the knowledge that I had a UTI which would hopefully soon be treated and gone.
What I also know is that for pretty much 2 whole years I had a non stop recurring UTI, for most of 2015 to 2017 which affected and dominated my thinking, and in that same period I lost my home, my business, and my wife and kids. Having had an infection for the 24/36 hours and feeling it’s awful effect on me, I can almost not see how I managed to survive ( literally ) for the 2 years that infections had me in their grip. I’m extremely surprised now that I chose life over ending it all, for all that time. I remember that people didn’t understand what I was going through, and didn’t seem to care although of course Pia did try her very best to. I looked ok ( albeit in a wheelchair ) so why couldn’t I just cheer up and appreciate being alive? Well having not had infections for 2 years I can now tell you that the difference mentally between having them and not having them is just vast. It’s really no wonder my life went into free fall. There haven’t been many unequivocal articles written about the mental effects of UTI’s on those with dementia and other disabling conditions, but for me the effects are dramatic.
I hope I don’t get many recurrences going forward. I don’t think I could go back to living like that, I really don’t.


I met up with my buddies last night in Richmond. I’m paralysed and P is blind with a guide dog. Until 7 years ago I wasn’t paralysed, and for the first 25 years P’s vision was fine. His diagnosis of a rare and progressive eye condition that would slowly but surely rob him of sight can’t have been anything other than profoundly shocking. He did however have years/ decades to adjust to the gradual loss, and actually didn’t tell anyone but his wife and son, who both kept it a secret. He held down a very senior role in a firm that’s a household name around the world, until he realised that he just couldn’t carry it off anymore. Pretending to be able to see normally is an impossible thing to do once you have deteriorated to a certain point.

He told me last night that I’d done him a real favour by explaining something to him last time. His wife had long accused him of having an annoying tendency to talk over people, not knowing when to stop. Looking at it from a vision perspective ( and that was my profession for a LONG time ) I put it to him that yes, he might well do that, but unintentionally. When you are in a group of people and you are having a conversation, well mannered people at least notice when other people are starting to speak, or are about to speak, because they give off visual signals that they are, usually with facial expressions or body language. Well if you can’t see people’s faces, or expressions, or body language, then you just speak when there’s a break in the audible conversation , and you miss all visual cues. P said that he’d slightly gleefully explained to his wife that I’d proven that he actually wasn’t just rude, it was merely in all likelihood just an effect of his vision loss.
When we talk to other people, most of us look at the others for visual affirmation that we are being heard, and that what we are saying is of interest to them. Affirmation can be from smiles, nods, and expressions by other people. When you can’t see any of those then how are you supposed to know someone’s reaction. Nodding and smiling, I pointed out to our mutual friend Chris, wasn’t going to be of any use to P, but audibly saying ‘ yes/ really/ no way/ wow etc ‘ would be very valuable. ‘ feedback’ for P when he was speaking. Obvs this makes perfect sense, but it hadn’t occurred to P either. When you lose your vision very gradually over many years, you don’t notice the gestures disappearing over time.

So there you go then. If you find yourself in a conversation with someone blind or partially sighted, you have to substitute your facial expressions with SOUND. In doing so you are helping the blind person a lot.

P and I talked about our respective losses a bit, and how you are ‘ dismissed’ by other people, in lots of ways. Sometimes it’s deliberate ( and that’s hurtful and very saddening ) but more often it’s not malicious. You get disempowered by people doing things for you that you CAN actually do yourself. I know it’s a minefield, the whole ‘ well should I help that poor bugger or not ‘ thing, but I’d say it’s best just to offer. Your offer may be declined but it may be VERY gratefully accepted. Please don’t not offer just in case the person says No thanks …

We had a real laugh, and Bolt the blind dog was again the most popular being in the bar. I can quite see that if you are a single fella, then having a cute dog or carrying a baby around is definitely a way to attract the chicks. Of the 2 options I think the dog is probably the least complicated.

I’ve got a sore throat. I never get sore throats. I have just been to 2 airports. You know what I’m saying, I’m sure. The thing is that the planet DOES need to shed several billion people in order to endure. It sounds a tad cold, but as a practical kinda fella, I’m ok with the concept of a species threatening plague breaking out. You have to look at the bigger picture and not be selfish, surely ….?

Life and death.

I met up with a fella I knew from Uni yesterday.
We played rugby together back then.

We met by pure chance in France on the same cycle trip as each other about 12 years ago, having not seen each other for 20 odd years, and we met a few times after that. The last time I saw him was just a few weeks after I was paralysed. He came to see me in hospital and I remember thinking how nervous he seemed. Yesterday I mentioned that, and he confessed to having been ‘ shitting himself’ seeing a mate who had so nearly died and was now 30 KGs lighter and forever disabled.
Not having ever read this diary he didn’t know much else about what happened next either. I skipped through the more significant bits, including my very very nearly successful suicide, and we talked a lot about depression. It’s very trendy now to have mental health issues, and at least publicly it has lost its stigma. In reality though it hasn’t. People are still really uncomfortable with it. Those that don’t can’t relate to those that do, but those that do can relate very well. Unless you have experience then it’s not something you can appreciate properly. I had no clue until my injury and the aftermath, I have to say.
I didn’t know a lot about my buddy’s ‘ history’. He told me about his violent father, who beat him, his sister and his mum. He told me how he eventually got to an age and weight when he could fight back, and did when he heard his father took it a step too far by raping his own daughter.
After giving his dad a taste of his own violence, he left home and never saw him again ( hearing more recently of his death ).
Perhaps his childhood traumas were responsible for his depression in adulthood, despite an extremely financially successful career and 2 kids he doted on. When he told his wife he just had to leave her, it went badly, and cost him everything he’d ‘ built ‘. One child sees him a lot, his other refuses to. They are both now adults. For many years he pondered suicide, but meeting a brilliant lady seemed to be his salvation. He quit his lucrative career and now does something he enjoys, for far less Money.
We talked a lot about depression. Let’s face it, I’ve had my moments, and he was visibly shocked when I described what I’d done to myself in 2017, particularly when I described the scene I found in my bedroom upon my return from hospital. Tbh it was hard to believe that someone who had left that much of his blood in that room could still be alive. It seems like a long time ago now, though isn’t really. I said that by and large I don’t feel down anymore, though sometimes I have fairly acute but short lived feelings of not wanting to be here.

Listening to all the Caroline Flack stuff reacquaints me with the mindset that only seriously suicidal people can know, and I imagine that most of those people don’t actually survive to talk about them. These days they call the people that seem to push you to do it the Haters. Some of those Haters do it ‘ actively’ and others push you passively by not making any attempt at all to help save you. Inaction can be as damaging as more obvious unpleasantness.

So if you know someone that you think is very down, if you do care at all then do something to help them. Please don’t do nothing, is my advice to you. Tributes after they are gone are inexcusably insufficient.

Having now seen the Big 3/4..

That’s Joker, 1917 and The Parasite… as well as The Irishman… I can say adamantly that ( in my opinion as a punter ) 4 of the Oscars went to the wrong film. Joker and 1917 are by far the best in every category and should share the honours, except for the Actress ones, cos they don’t really have women in them a lot. The Parasite is ok for sure. It’s a black comedy with a non Western approach for sure. Blood and death are ‘ funny’ in the film, but I’m not sure anyone watching in the screening we went to was laughing.
Im not big into film award stuff, but this definitely looks like it’s just about voting the winner to be non English speaking and ‘ foreign’ with no white people, so yet again a politically correct typa statement…perhaps I should enrol as an actor, given it can’t be long before someone in a wheelchair that’s disabled wins Best Actor.

Recently I’ve seen a few plays ( well I get cheaper tickets so it’s affordable ) Lily and I saw My Cousin Rachel, which was absolutely brilliant, full of twists to the very end. I’d not read it, nor the more famous Rebecca by the same author ( Daphne du Maurier ) as I’m not that well read really, but I’ve since bought Rebecca on Audible ( the audiobook app ). I do find it far easier to listen to someone reading it to me, than actually reading it myself. When you have half the number of functional limbs that you used to have, your arms become your legs too, which means that reading a book means you can’t move – your ‘ legs’ now holding the book. So audiobooks are the way forward. At the moment I’m listening to The State of The Affair which is all about infidelity. It’s not fiction, it’s written and read by the lady that ‘ meets and counsels’ the couples who are going through difficulties brought on usually by the big capital I.

It’s said that between 33 and 76 percent of couples ‘ enjoy ‘ 1 of the couple having been unfaithful to the other ( and of course quite possibly both of them at it ). That makes it ever so normal… yet in the West it’s frowned upon big style, even a small indiscretion spelling catastrophic consequences to the partnership and the household that they are in. Perhaps people ought lighten up about it… the author examines lots of reasons that people are unfaithful, and it’s fascinating the way she looks at it all without at any point ‘ judging’ anyone.

My English class is going strong though the charity that organises it is having its funding stopped, so officially it’s not for much longer. That doesn’t stop me continuing though, as I don’t get paid or anything. I can theoretically just keep going on the same day at the same time to the same place and assist anyone that wants to come along. We’ll see what happens!

I’m almost certainly buggered then..

That’s because every time I wheel into an elevator on the Underground or at a railway station, the lift has at least one Chinese person in it, and possibly what looks like half a village…

Well I’m bound to get Corona virus eventually from all that statistical risky exposure, aren’t I ? And then I’ll be wheeling it about all over the place, like a rabid coughing extra from a Mad Max film.

Just saying.