Ollie’s Poorly Friends

As any dog-walker will tell you, regular haunts mean meeting lots of other dogs, and their owners. At one time, Ollie enjoyed the company of the same afternoon gang. We could have up to eight dogs in a very happy pack, and they would play together as we chatted walking around Beetley Meadows, or Hoe Rough.

Sadly, some of those dogs have since died, or owners have moved away. Each year, the old canine faces become fewer, and new ones arrive to replace them. But the boisterous new arrivals rarely interest Ollie, and he still scans the paths and fields for a sight of some of his ‘best mates’.

Just lately, we have been hearing some bad news about some of Ollie’s oldest friends and companions. Winston is fifteen now, and has recently suffered a stroke. He can still come out, but only for around ten minutes a day. Big Rocky the Newfoundland has suffered a complete collapse of his back legs. His owners bought a special cart to wheel him around in, as once in the river, he can still swim to his heart’s content. But he can no longer walk without assistance, and wears a harness with handles so that he can be lifted in and out of his cart.

Yesterday, I heard some sad news about Spike, the Rhodesian Ridgeback. He was born in February 2012, the same time as Ollie. For many years, they were firm friends, and used to enjoy the rough and tumble of dominant play. But for some time now, I haven’t seen him around. I spoke to his owner yesterday who informed me that he has a complete deterioration of his spine, and can hardly walk. If he stands still, he falls over. The prognosis is not good, and they are just ‘keeping him comfortable’.

Earlier this year, Buster the Lhasa Apso died unexpectedly from kidney failure. Paddy, the Collie who lives next door, is over fifteen years old. His back legs have crossed-over, and although he can still manage to walk, it is upsetting to see him struggling.

Some of the old gang are still the same. Toby the Jack Russell, as mad for his ball as ever. Poppy the Lakeland Terrier, still lively at ten years old. And a few of the new arrivals are slowly being accepted by Ollie too. Marley the black Labradoodle, and his terrier partner, Duke. Buddy and Walter, the frantic yellow Labradors, and Flossie the young Whippet, who trembles with delight every time she sees him.

Ollie is one of the ‘old guys’ now. Respected, sometimes avoided, but still in charge of his walking grounds.

At least as far as he is concerned.

Thinking Aloud On a Sunday

A Heavy Cold

All I could think about today was the fact that I have had a bloody awful heavy head cold since Wednesday.

I presume that having to sit with no heating on and windows open when the living room was being painted made me susceptible.
A niggly sore throat on Wednesday morning soon turned into hot watery eyes, sneezing, and occasional fits of coughing.

That night, it was hard to sleep, so I started taking regular doses of tablets to reduce the effect of the symptoms.

Three days later, and it shows no sign of improving, or going away. At least it isn’t Flu, as I don’t have any aches and pains.

What I was actually thinking about was how quickly we forget what it was like before the cold overwhelmed us.

It seems as if I have always had this, and it is impossible to remember when I felt perfectly fine on Tuesday.

I know, it’s just a cold. No big deal. It will pass soon, hopefully.

But it got me thinking.

Trick, No Treat: An Urgent Warning for Cat-Lovers, Writers, and…Everyone Else

A warning to all cat lovers! Plastic can cause thyroid problems!
Please read this post, and the linked post too.

Lara Trace Hentz

We have caused this one. I am talking about plastics in our environment. And I am talking about their insidious effect on the thyroid – HUMAN and animal.

This post is about an emerging health crisis facing cats in particular and everything and everyone else in addition, and we have caused it

…This is not going to go away. And if you have ever loved a cat, you know how emotionally charged this issue is about to become.” –

MUST READ: Trick, No Treat: An Urgent Warning for Cat-Lovers, Writers, and…Everyone Else

This post must be widely shared since it is now a matter of life and death. Thank you my friend KC.

** Buffalo dreams ebook coverMy friend Jaga’de has just died of a rare cancer. [Salivary gland tumors are rare types of tumors that begin in the salivary glands; these cancerous tumors can begin in any of the…

View original post 46 more words

Looking after Mum

After the post remembering my Mum’s birthday this week, I was interested to see something similar on the blog of American writer, Pete Springer. That reminded me of this post from 2013, which few of you have seen before. Anyone who has ever cared for an elderly relative might be able to identify with this.

beetleypete

When I was young, my Mum was always there. She worked hard, looking after the house, cooking and cleaning, and doing all the washing and ironing. In addition to this, she also had a full-time job, and looked in on her own parents, as well as her sisters and brother. She rarely told me off, always seemed pleased to see me, and gave me constant encouragement in my school work, reading, and the development of my imagination. If I was ill, she tended me, sitting up all night by my bed if need be. She worried constantly about my eating, to the extent of overfeeding me, and making sure I always had sweets, and any other treats I desired. Though not a spoilt child, I was certainly a well-nurtured one.

As I got older, she continued in kind. When I was on school holidays, she arranged for her mother to…

View original post 2,273 more words

Thinking Aloud On a Sunday

Weather, and illness.

I went to bed last night with an annoying chesty cough. I took some tablets, and retired early. I had been feeling cold for two days, after a change in the weather from twenty degrees and sunny, to thirteen degrees and showery. I woke up not feeling that much better, even though I had slept soundly for over ten hours. That got me thinking about the connection between illness, and weather.

When I was young, many forms of illness were blamed on the weather. Coming home in wet clothes, I would be told, “Get out of those wet things, or you will catch your death of cold”.
During some of the famous London smogs, we were issued with cloth ‘smog masks’ at school, and told that we must not breathe the air outside without wearing them. Apparently, the air would affect our breathing, and leave us with long-term lung problems. They seemed to forget that I was returning home to a house heated by smoky coal fires, and to parents who chain-smoked cigarettes.

Sitting too long in the sun was never considered to be a health hazard though. I never knew that sun cream existed, until I was in my mid twenties. But when I started to get severe hay fever in my teens, I was told it was ‘the hot air’, and that I should shut my bedroom window as I slept, so as not to breathe too much in. Visiting sick relatives or friends was never an issue either, as long as they put their hand over their mouths when they coughed or sneezed, I was reliably informed. Once they had finished coughing or sneezing, we were of course expected to hug them, and kiss them goodbye as we left.

It wasn’t long before the government became involved with trying to tell us all that it was nothing to do with the weather. It was ‘viruses’, and they were spread by close contact, especially among families, and on public transport. Information films began to appear, with catchy titles like, ‘Coughs and Sneezes spread Diseases’. They showed people using handkerchiefs, and covering their mouths when they coughed. But despite this new information, my Mum still insisted that the weather was mostly to blame, and that I should always take a jumper or coat when I went out, “Just in case”.

Now I am older, I have discovered that I am more susceptible to illness. A long life has weakened my immune system, making things like cuts take longer to heal, and other medical conditions much harder to shake off, once established. But I socialise rarely, and use public transport even less. Other than walking around with Ollie, I am inside most of the time, and always dressed appropriately for any conditions. But having gone from walking in warm and pleasant sunshine, to having to dress up in warm clothes to take my dog out, in the space of three days, something has got into my system and has left me with a cough that seems difficult to shift.

I blame the weather.

Thinking Aloud On a Sunday

Age and infirmity.

As I have mentioned, I haven’t been at all well lately. So it is no surprise that I woke up (early) from a feverish sleep, thinking about how things change as you get older. I have written about this before of course, but in a few weeks from now, I will be adding an even bigger number next to the 6 in my age. And I woke up thinking about just how fast that seems to come around.

If you have a long time to go before you can even think about retiring, or the thought of sixty candles on your birthday cake seems like some distant event in an uncertain future, then you might do well to read this, and take pause for thought.

I spent the last fifteen years of my working life planning for the time when I could retire on the pensions I had paid into. Research informed me that I would have to work until I was 60, to make it financially possible. So like many before me, I started to ‘count down’ the years until I would no longer have to work, more or less wishing away a great deal of my life, hoping to get older faster. Does that seem crazy to you? Then maybe wait until you get close to that yourself, and see how you feel. By the time I got to my 58th birthday, I was coasting in neutral. I had a date fixed, and had already applied to retire on that day, excited to receive pension forecasts and confirmation in the post.

One week after my 60th birthday, I was no longer a ‘worker’. I was now one of ‘The Retired’, a ‘Pensioner’. With five years still to go before the addition of my official State Pension, I took a 60% drop in monthly income, and moved to Norfolk to live the quiet life. Well, I didn’t plan on it being quiet. I would get a dog, do a lot of gardening, some decorating, and various jobs around the house.

At first, it went just as expected. I didn’t get around to the decorating, but I tackled the big jobs in the garden, painted some fences, and got that dog. That got me out of the house, exploring the local area, and meeting new people. And I tried my hand at starting a blog too. In most respects, life was quiet, also peaceful, and content. This was how I had hoped it would be, and I could anticipate the coming years, planning ahead.

Then one day, I found it difficult to lift a shopping bag from the back of the car. I thought I must have misjudged the weight of it, and was surprised to discover I needed two hands to lift it. After doing some minor digging and weed-clearing the following week, I could hardly hold a cup of coffee later. I went to the doctor, and she took blood tests. I had been taking medication for high cholesterol for around five years before retiring, and it turned out that I was one of the unlucky ones. The tablets had caused muscle wastage, predominantly in my arms. Cells and muscle tissue were found in record numbers in a liver function test, and the medication was stopped immediately, never to recommence.

I had to readjust. I was never again going to have the upper body strength I had enjoyed for most of my life. Jobs would have to be tackled slowly, and I had to buy a small hand-truck to move things around. My arms ached to the point of bringing me to tears, and simple things like opening a stubborn jar lid were now almost laughably impossible.

I was annoyed with myself, but had to learn to live with it.

Not long after that, I felt dizzy in the bath one day. I was sure that the bath had overturned with me in it. Impossible as that sounds, I scrambled out the bath in a panic, knocking over everything in the bathroom. I considered that it might be a stroke, and spent a long time waiting for the symptoms to subside. Then I went to the doctor again. It was Vertigo, a simple painless condition that can seriously blight your life. Lying for even a short time flat on my back was now impossible. Look up at a tree, or down at some weeds, and an overwhelming dizziness would convince me that I was about to fall. The doctor suggested head manipulation exercises, but they didn’t work. So she told me that I would have to learn to live with it.

I needed to readjust, again.

The next summer, I was bitten badly by horseflies, when out walking Ollie. Some of the bites became grossly swollen, and others I had scratched continued to hurt, and bleed constantly too. Back to the doctor, and this time I saw the nurse. She told me not to scratch them, (yeah, like that works) and gave me some cream to help with the swelling and itching. I remarked that I was surprised how long they were taking to heal, and she smiled. “You’re not as young as you were, unfortunately”. On top of having arm muscles with the strength of bath sponges, and feeling dizzy doing so much as changing a light bulb, I now had to contemplate the possibility that a simple insect bite might never quite heal, and provide the possibility of worse infections attacking my bloodstream.

Retirement was becoming a contest with my own rapidly-ageing body. And a contest I was losing.

So the next time you dream about the day of your own retirement, whether it be sailing that yacht around the world, spending time with your grandchildren, or landscaping your beloved garden, I have a tip for you.

Check with your body first.

You’re not the one in charge, whatever your brain tells you.

A Viral Delay

For the last few days, I have been revisited by the body-crushing virus that I have christened ‘The Boomerang Virus’.
(Because it keeps coming back of course)

It has a distinct combination of symptoms, and once they appear, there is no mistake that it has returned.

Hot, painful, and watery eyes.
High temperature followed by feeling ice cold.
Weakness, tiredness, and lethargy.
A sore throat that feels like broken glass.
Random coughing fits that can last for up to fifteen minutes.

Yesterday, I was in bed for almost 20 of the available 24 hours. And for 16 of those 20 hours, I was asleep, in something akin to a feverish coma. I only emerged to take Ollie for a 90-minute walk, and later to eat dinner. I am taking the usual shop-bought medications to reduce the effects of a runny nose, and a headache that feels like an Eagle’s claw around my skull. They are helping a little, but I suspect it must be left to run its course, like the last time I had it. Meanwhile, much of my normal life has been put on hold, not unlike waiting for a delayed train, on a windy station platform.

So many people now have this here, that I am beginning to wonder if it is biological warfare, gone wrong.

I am unable to concentrate on anything for too long. So no reading, very little TV, and no long sessions on the blogs. Sitting in my office chair for more than an hour is too uncomfortable, and lack of enthusiasm and energy means that nothing else gets done at all.

To everyone who is awaiting the next part of my current fiction serial, I apologise. I haven’t been up to writing it, sorry to say.

If I feel better later tonight, which seems unlikely at the moment, I will try to get it done.