Back to the brain

Martin's Progress Log

M J Dempsey
Copyright (C)
2005

Number of visitors to these pages

Previous Daily reports

Tuesday 18th October 2005

Like all good things, eventually someone will declare them a serious health risk, or they will simply come to an end.  Martin has indicated that his goldfish bowl existence should now come to an end, and he should be allowed to continue his recovery without each days events being documented for all to see.   We understand, and fully support him in this decision, and thus I hereby declare this 'progress log' officially closed.  That is not to say that current content will be removed, because it won't.  All of the logs from 'day 1' until today ('day 230') are available in forward and reverse chronological order (see links below).   There's quite a lot of material that's been published on this site and apparently 'removed', but it's all still there, behind the scenes.  You might find that this site gets a make-over and links to all past and present content are made available.  Of course the guestbook will remain active, so if you want to know anything about Martin's health, or happiness (I'm not sure about 'wealth'), place a suitable message therein. 

Don't forget to scroll down for the final set of statistics....!!

--------oo--------

Here's the final set of statistics - in fact for the total period that I collected them (week 24 thro' to present week 42 - did someone say '42'!!!!).  There's many a commercial web site that would be more than a little happy to have had such traffic. 

  Page Loads Unique Visitors First Time Visitors Returning Visitors
Total 25,504 8,132 3,654 4,478
Average 1,342 428 192 236
 
Week Page Loads Unique Visitors First Time Visitors Returning Visitors
W42 2005 330 91 29 62
W41 2005 1,228 431 219 212
W40 2005 1,294 462 219 243
W39 2005 1,313 415 179 236
W38 2005 1,123 384 162 222
W37 2005 1,612 469 198 271
W36 2005 1,140 365 194 171
W35 2005 997 358 177 181
W34 2005 1,101 333 125 208
W33 2005 1,464 471 228 243
W32 2005 1,697 524 239 285
W31 2005 1,958 582 252 330
W30 2005 1,844 533 190 343
W29 2005 2,265 754 333 421
W28 2005 2,198 646 259 387
W27 2005 1,593 506 197 309
W26 2005 1,762 530 221 309
W25 2005 585 278 233 45
W24 2005 0 0 0 0

 

Monday 17th October 2005

As I write this log and change the date (above), I'm suddenly reminded that in 10 days time it will be Martin's birthday.  Birthdays are times when we traditionally look both back over the previous year and forwards into the next year.  Looking back over the last 6 or 7 months is no easy task, but looking forward to the next 12 months, it's likely to be a year of achievement which hopefully will see Martin's physical improvement continue and also see him get back to work.  Only then will we able to really 'wind down' and relax from our parental responsibilities, that have covered a multitude of duties, from 'fighting his corner' whilst confronting officialdom, to simple taxiing jobs.  I chuckled today, to hear that when Martin visited the Job Centre to complete some specific paperwork, the official asked him how he was doing generally.  'Oh, OK' said Martin, 'I'm getting there slowly!', to which the official replied 'I should think so - especially if she's got anything to do with it!', gesturing at Jan.   It seems that her reputation precedes her.  Speaking of reputations, I've kept you all in suspense for long enough.  Here tonight, is the final chapter of 'Martin's Story' - it's appended to 'Martin's Story' (follow the link from the home page).

Sunday 16th October 2005

For a pleasant change I found that I'd got nothing mechanical to 'fettle' on either of the 'fine' French cars (how quickly attitudes can change), so I spent most of the day painting and replacing all those odds and ends that normally adorned the outside of our house, that were recently removed to assist the decorator.  You know the sort of stuff, hanging basket hangers, gateposts and even weather station brackets.   Martin called today to check on my condition - I wasn't so well yesterday due to too much heaving and grunting (when French cars were anything but 'fine') - I was pleased to report that I had recovered substantially.  He also reported that he was under attack from another wasp, and wondered whether Jan had indeed despatched the previous one, which she most certainly did.  Martin called back later - he'd got the wasp - so he'll be able to use his bedroom tonight.  He also checked on some of his appointments for next week - Jan will be able to ferry him here and there, now that we've got her car back on the road.  Bad news at the MOT though - the inspector said the car was in pretty good condition 'down under', due primarily to the layers of 'Waxoyl' that yours truly has applied over the years.  Of course after 230,000 miles it is to be expected that some things will simply break - clutch cable and hydraulic pipe being classic examples, but after a thorough check he could find nothing worthy of a 'keep an eye on that' warning.  Oh damn!!  Without an excuse to scrap it, I'll just have to keep it going - on and on and on.....   You'll all be pleased to hear that now I'm not up to my arm-pits in black oily stuff, I'm able to proof read the final chapter (Chapter 8) of Martin's Story.  This will be coming to these pages very soon, so don't go away.  Speaking of coming to this page, the table below shows the statistics for the last 1,100-ish 'hits' on the site.  Can you find yourself in the list?  Who's visiting from the UAE?   Answers on a 'post card' please....  

 

  Num City Region Country Name  
  717 - - - -
  78 Stoke On Trent England United Kingdom United Kingdom
  77 London England United Kingdom United Kingdom
  52 Manchester England United Kingdom United Kingdom
  44 Santa Cruz De Tenerife Canary Islands Spain Spain
  30 Blackpool England United Kingdom United Kingdom
  28 Leicester England United Kingdom United Kingdom
  16 Grimsby England United Kingdom United Kingdom
  14 Worcester England United Kingdom United Kingdom
  6 Derby England United Kingdom United Kingdom
  5 Eastbourne England United Kingdom United Kingdom
  5 Guildford England United Kingdom United Kingdom
  3 Cheltenham England United Kingdom United Kingdom
  3 Milton Keynes England United Kingdom United Kingdom
  2 Dubai Dubai United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates
  2 Ramsey Man, Isle Of United Kingdom United Kingdom
  2 Exeter England United Kingdom United Kingdom
  2 Maidstone England United Kingdom United Kingdom
  2 Oxford England United Kingdom United Kingdom
  2 Ely England United Kingdom United Kingdom
  1 Birmingham England United Kingdom United Kingdom

 

Saturday 15th October 2005

The tiredness that I had expected yesterday descended on Martin with a vengeance today.  He answered his phone at 12.30, but holding a conversation was a big struggle.  To celebrate my car back on the road (yes - it's finished) and passing it's MOT without a hitch (weehee!), Jack and I decided to go out for lunch.  We invited Martin along but he politely refused saying 'Not today thank you' As it turned out we didn't go.  Jack did a long awaited oil change on his own car and due to a stubborn oil filter he ended up -well and truly 'cream crackered' - having relied too much on his brute strength and ignorance.  We have delayed the celebratory dinner to another time.  Later in the afternoon I delivered the software Martin requested yesterday, but didn't stop as I was anxious to get back to see how Jack was.  I'm happy to report he was a lot better by teatime.   He's also looking forward to a few days rest from car maintenance (we just need to convince the cars of this decision).

Friday 14th October 2005

I was fairly certain that Martin would having a day of rest, after yesterday's startling exploits. A solo journey, on a bus, to his work place was no small achievement.  I picked up a parcel from the post office for him, had his prescription filled at the chemist and left them with his neighbour not wanting to disturb him.  However shortly after I returned home Martin rang me and we chatted for sometime and he requested a trip into Leek.  We decided to incorporate this arrangement into picking Jack up from work as we are still sharing Jack's car till mine is ready.  I elected to take 'Bella' along rather than shutting her in at home on her own.  Martin was delighted to see her, as always, and we let her escort us round Leek.  Afterwards we picked Jack up from work, and then dropped Martin off at Wetley Rocks and finally went home.  Jack decided he'd take the night off and planned to have a beer and watch a DVD, which is exactly what we did with only one interruption when Martin rang asking about a particular software package. We are guessing that he is starting a new project now that he has finished his 'story' the final chapter of which, will be published very shortly. This is a real sign that Martin is now motivated to strengthening his mind and his body, trying as hard as he can to get his life back on track.

Thursday 13th October 2005

Although I didn't know it, this morning as I went to work, accompanied by Jan and Bella (en route to the now almost routine exercise session in the nearby playing fields), today was going to be a 'landmark' day.  Jan had arranged to call back to see me just before lunch before delivering some stuff  to Martin's just after that.  I'd got to work and settled into my early morning routine of checking overnight processes and making sure there was nothing that had gone terribly wrong - some times a lot happens between me arriving and the arrival of the masses - but to be fair, more often than not it's a quick look around then on with whatever the current job in hand happens to be.  I'd not been there too long when the phone rang - nothing unusual in that, except I was slightly thrown when the voice on the other end turned out to be Martin. 'Hello' he said.  My mind was quickly trying to work out why Martin would phone me at such an early hour.  'Are you OK?'  I asked him.  'Yes'  he replied, and in the background I could hear some more voices.  'Whose there with you'  I asked, 'Or is that the TV I can hear?'.   Martin said it was not the TV but a couple of his work colleagues I could hear.  I asked if they'd called in to see him, my mind now working overtime, trying to make sense of all the circumstances.  'No, I'm upstairs - at work'  Martin responded.  'I woke up this morning and decided I'd come to work, to see if I could do it'  he added.  Wow!  I dropped the phone back on the hook and went upstairs to see him - and true to his word, there he was all smartly dressed in his working clothes, with a big smile on his face.   It seems he woke early,  saw his work clothes on the back of the door (where they'd been since 3rd March) and this triggered the desire to, well, to just do it.   He dressed, walked to the bus stop, caught a bus to Leek, made sure he was near someone else who would be getting off at the correct stop, left the bus, crossed the main road (using a pedestrian subway), walked up the (fairly steep) path, got through the automatic barriers with his swipe card and entry code, and reported for duty (well he can't legally do any work because he's got a long term sick note - but that doesn't stop him socialising).  He'd already ordered, and was just about to tuck into, a bacon roll from the kitchen.  It seems he probably was there, at work, before me.  I do think that this was a truly fantastic achievement, not just a single success, but each of the steps listed earlier present problems of their own which Martin put his mind into overcoming - and did it.  Jan and I had no idea he was planning to do this, but never the less we are very proud of what he did today.  Well done Martin.

Wednesday 12th October 2005

Once again I was taxied to work this morning so that Jan could retain my car - her car being still 'under maintenance' in the back yard.  It's almost there - I think, although I'm praying that a leak I've detected is from a loose rubber tube, although this could turn out to be something more sinister.   So Bella got a good run at Birchall fields this morning, and I understand a good meal at lunchtime, which was going to be Jan's dinner - but Bella got to it when she wasn't looking.  It wasn't just the bacon that was 'wolfed' down, there is a fair amount of concern as to the whereabouts of the aluminium foil that this had been wrapped in.  So perhaps tomorrow will bring some time for reflection.   Jan says it's been a busy day for her working on Martin's behalf.  Negotiating with various Social Services departments, filling out forms and making phone calls to the DWP (which we all know is the Department of Works and Pensions) and is always an answering service and then dubious music whilst on hold.  After that, which took most of the morning, she called into the Jobcentre with more forms, but they needed Martin's 'monica' so off she went to Wetley Rocks for his signature and used the opportunity to take Bella along for a short visit.  Later in the afternoon Martin had an  appointment at the 'docs' after which we all had a take away (thank you Martin) and then I took him home.  As promised last night, here is chapter 7 of Martin's story....it's appended to Martin's Story.

Tuesday 11th October 2005

It's been a quiet day today.  Jan took me to work (her 'car' is still elevated in the back yard), then exercised 'Bella' on Birchall, before returning home to check out some documents that Martin had asked her to review and print, prior to his appointment this afternoon at Haywood.  The task was much bigger than either had anticipated and this ultimately resulted in them being slightly late for his meeting.  Jan had phoned and explained that they were running behind schedule, and checked that it was OK to be a little late.  It seems that the journey there and back was also very quiet, with Martin feeling quite poorly (travel sickness), so he was dropped off at Wetley Rocks on the way home.  Jan saw a couple of people at the Haywood, including Martin's namesake - who noticed that (our) Martin looked 'off colour'.  Janet called me to explain she'd not be along to pick me up at 4pm, but fortunately I got a lift home from work, thanks to a colleague, and decided to give 'the car' a rest tonight (more likely - give my back a rest from the cold concrete).  Martin has sent me an interesting light bulb to evaluate - it's an LED version of a mains 'candle light' bulb.  It draws an impressive 1 watt of power, and gives off about 10 watts of light (relative to a more standard tungsten bulb).  I now have 'Chapter 7' and hopefully will be publishing it tomorrow - so come back real soon.

Monday 10th October 2005

Martin was incommunicado, as it were, for most of the weekend, and my over active imagination got to work, thinking things like that monster wasp had stung him, and maybe sent him into anaphylactic shock.  That's why I was knocking on his door at 8.55 this morning.  I had 'Bella' with me because Martin is always pleased to see her.  He was in good humour and we past a pleasant hour together discussing allsorts (not the liquorice ones).  The wasp had not been seen since Friday and Martin declared it impossible to find, but said that I could look anyway if I wanted to.  I did, but eventually gave up.  Later as I was about to leave I chased after Bella, to put her lead on and found her toying with the wasp at Martin's bedroom window.  I am a poor substitute for Buffy but I did what had to be done and dispatch the evil beast.  The 'work in progress' on my car (another evil beast) is progressing as Jack put in another few hours this evening. Unfortunately lying on cold wet concrete, under the car for hours on end, is not doing his chesty cough any good and it's a bit worse today.  

Sunday 9th October 2005

Today has been another mammoth struggle for Jack with my car, however, he has made small but significant progress.  It still looks like I will be accompanying him to work each morning so that I will have transport for the various appointments that Martin has this week.  Martin must be resting today, or maybe the wasp got him, because in spite of phone calls, messages and email I have had no communication from him.  I bought a couple of copies of today's Sunday Sentinel.  In it this week is a large piece about the work that Occupational Therapists do and they featured Martin as an example of the cases they deal with every day.  It is a good article but I feel it worth mentioning that OT is only one small, all be it important, part of Martin's rehabilitation.   There have been numerous other parties involved and of course Martin's self determination has played no small part either, in fact the list is endless.  He has come a long, long way but let's not forget that there's still miles to go, and each step is arduous and presents its own opportunities.

Saturday 8th October 2005

Yet again Jack is having to wrestle with my car. A hydraulic pipe that had been rubbing against something underneath failed and due to some wonderful stroke of timing finally ruptured during it's annual MOT.  The contents of the hydraulic system emptied into the pit and the MOT was aborted.  The new pipe cost a staggering £4.50 - not enough to warrant scrapping the car especially as only the day before I taxed it for 6 months, not to mention having just fitted a new clutch cable.  It looks like a simple enough job, a length of pipe with a union at each end, although access to the unions is a little restricted.  This new task is proving somewhat difficult and thwarting Jack's best efforts.  So far, after 3 days effort he's managed to remove a total of no unions.  Those of you who know Jack will know that he does not give up easily.  Martin rang this morning to relate in the most amusing way how he is battling with a rather large wasp that has taken up residence in his bedroom. This brute emerged in the middle of the night and made a bee (wasp) line for Martin's bed side light. Too close for comfort. Martin escaped and returned later to do battle armed with a jar and other useful equipment. The blighter had gone to ground, and could not be found. I have yet to find out any further details but I know I wouldn't be happy sharing my bedroom with such a beast. Around 1 o'clock Martin was expecting a visitor from the south, not one of the regulars from that area but a colleague that visited Martin in the first few weeks after the accident and has not seen him again until today. I wonder what impression he got!  The painter has finished, packed up and left.  If you click on the guest book link you will see I have scanned in his business card.  He did a good job and we thought it was worth giving him a little free advertising.
 

Friday 7th October 2005

Another quiet day, with nothing much to report.  As you'd perhaps expect Martin was, after his energetic afternoon yesterday, very tired today.  It's all part of the process of building up strength and stamina I suppose - do something strenuous one day, spend the next day or two recovering from it.   With each iteration of this pattern he'll get stronger and stronger and the recovery time will reduce and eventually he'll be able to catch up overnight - well that would be the ideal situation.   I'm still keeping a 'healthy' distance from Martin because I've had (still got!) this chest infection, that I wouldn't want to wish on my worst enemy (well perhaps I would), but I certainly don't want to be responsible for passing it on to Martin.  Remember to get your Sunday Sentinel and check for any articles featuring Martin.  We'll try and reproduce, in these pages, anything that is published there-in.

Thursday 6th October 2005

Nothing much to report tonight, Jan and Martin spent some time together this morning, filling in some forms, before Martin got the 'nod' that his colleague from work was on his way to pick him up and take him to the cinema.  I understand they were going via PC world, and probably calling at an American style burger restaurant afterwards.  It's good to see him going out with his friends and an important part of his recovery process.  Let's hope he had a really good time.  I note that one or two comments have been lodged in the guestbook about 'Chapter 6' of 'Martins Story' - so why not tell us what you think.  It's only the responses in the guest book that will motivate Martin to write his story to completion - so come on let's get motivating.

Wednesday 5th October 2005

Martin's plans for his outing to the pictures on Thursday has gone through another change - it seems Jan is now relieved of Taxi duties, but still invited to the cinema, should she wish to attend.  Martin will be collected from and returned to home by one of his friends from work.  We think that it will be good for Martin to spend some time with his friends without one of his parents listening and observing everything he says and does.  I do know that the film is one that Jan is really looking forward to seeing - but, as I pointed out, her time could be better spent filling in the excavations in the yard we had to do when yours truly got a set of 'drain rods' stuck underground (that's another story).  Anyway at the risk of you all suffering from shock, I have attached the next part of Martin's Story to the 'Martin's Story' page.

Tuesday 4th October 2005

I spoke to Martin last night and again this morning.  He'd asked me to mail the weekly 'canteen' menu to him, I think he'd a visit to the factory in mind.  However as I sent them off to him this morning I noticed that they were last weeks menus - so at least he'll be able to see what he's missed.  I note that the catering manager, who sees to the menus, is away this week so I guess they'll not get updated until he returns.  Anyway I think that there are some alternative plans already taking shape that will see Martin, Jan and maybe a couple of colleagues, visiting the cinema some time later this week.   Martin told me also that he'd found some rather 'snazzy' light fittings - well 'bulbs' actually - or rather multiple LEDs in a bulb like device.  They looked very interesting and Martin and I were quite sold on them, even though they were only available in the 'screw in' variety, until we found that they were only supplied for 120 volt circuits - Doh!  Never mind I'm sure it's only a matter of time before they become available for 240 volts and hopefully with bayonet fittings too.  After a fairly busy day yesterday with his newspaper folk I think its been relatively quieter today.  I thought that it would be a good time to review some statistics as I've spared you from them for a few weeks.

So the graph below shows how the hits on Martin's site have been distributed on a daily basis over the last month
(hmmm, I wonder what happened on September 12th?).  

Monday 3rd October 2005

The next part of Martin's story (Chapter 6b) has not made it to press quite yet, it will, however, be coming soon.  Todays the day Martin was to be interviewed by the Sentinel about 'Occupational Therapy', and as expected Martin's OT arrived around 1pm in readiness for the reporter and photographer who were anticipated at 1.30 pm.  As it happens only the photographer came along and he told Martin the 'interview' was to be conducted over the telephone.  Pictures of Martin were taken doing various activities, including preparing food on a specially designed chopping board with gadgets to help when the user has only one good hand.  The photographer told him to look happier while cutting a piece of cheese.  Martin couldn't imagine why he should grin at a dairy product and the thought made him laugh which was the moment the picture was taken - we'll see the result in due course.  Indoor pictures done, and on to the great outdoors, where Martin was photographed crossing the road.  Of course we have no idea which pictures will be used and lots were taken.  The telephone interview took a good hour and I gather the very nice lady reporter asked a great deal of questions, which Martin was glad to supply full answers to.  Thanks to all those of you have read and commented on Martin's latest chapter, and as I already said there's more coming soon.

Sunday 2nd October 2005

I know that a lot of us have been putting pressure on Martin to put pen to paper (figuratively speaking) and continue with the next instalment of his 'story'.  We've used various methods to do this, the guestbook being the one mostly used by the readers of this report, but direct confrontation has on occasions been used, even though this has been received with mostly negative acknowledgement.  It has been a rather taboo subject in our close family circle, only those remote and 'bold' souls have been able to subtly tell him to 'get on with it'.  Even Leek fire brigade have dropped fairly large hints within the pages of the guestbook.  And so for the last few weeks we've not dared to mention, for fear of completely getting him 'anti', the continuation that everyone agrees is a must (I think that Martin actually would have agreed that it was something that he should finish - that he had to finish - something that could not reasonably be left undone).  Well today Jan received a phone call from Martin, who asked if she'd read the email he sent to her.   Why is it that you're always around when those uninteresting 'pharmaceutical', and cheap 'rolex' watches for all, emails arrive but always seem to be 'away' when the really important stuff comes in.  Jan and I had been running around doing 'decorator's mate' duties this morning, making the coffee, taking the fall pipes off, making the coffee, shifting anything and everything that might get in the way of brush or roller, and (did I mention) making the coffee.  Keeping the workers motivated was assignment number 1 this morning - after all here we had some British workers, working on a Sunday.  It's something to do with the weather apparently and as the job is a 'fixed price' one there's no real penalty for us if the guys want to 'make hay whilst the sun shines'.  Anyway, back to Martin's phone call - after checking her email she found that Martin had sent to her the next part of his 'story', and by the wonders of email (twice in one day) Janet forwarded it on to me for publishing (we don't talk much these days - we just drop the odd email to each other).  After you've read it, why not drop a line into the guestbook - how else will Martin know that you want more, assuming of course that you do.   So without further ado go straight to the 'Martin's Story' page, for the next chapter......Chapter 6 - paradise regained.

Saturday 1st October 2005

The painters made a start on our house this morning, the outside is getting a long overdue facelift.  Jack and I spent all morning, chasing about outside, moving and removing all potential obstacles out of their way.  That's why I didn't know until much later that Martin had tried to ring us.  I rang him back and was pleased to hear that he'd slept the clock round and only woke because a wasp had somehow invaded his bedroom and the relentless buzzing drove him from his bed.  He declined my offer of me bringing a takeaway around, preferring to cook for himself, as he had already defrosted some chicken.  Tomorrow, however, I will be doing a pizza run. We are going to try Dominos and have already chosen our order http://www.dominos.co.uk/.  This will be a bit of a change from my Sunday usual of 'roast beef, Yorkshire pud and two veg'. 

Friday 30th September 2005

It was pouring with rain at around midnight, Thursday, when we left the Red Lion and as luck would have it I was parked directly outside the doors.  We followed our plan which was to go to Abbey's - which, for those of you who don't know Leek,  is a burger bar about 200 yards from the place we just left.  I set off in the car and parked about 100 yards nearer.  Laden with large 'burgers and chips' we returned to Martin's at Wetley Rocks.  Although he was more than a little tired (to say the least) he demolished the food and I wished him goodnight and left him chatting to his friend.  Today he was so tired speech was a huge effort and made our telephone conversation a little difficult.  He told me a number of things though, including his plans to keep abreast of what is going on at work, so that when the time comes to go back, he will be reasonably up to speed.  I mentioned on Wednesday night's log that the Sentinel had contacted Martin and would tell you more - well I don't know very much but I'm told that there is going to be a feature on OT's (Occupational Therapists) and Martin's OT recommended him as a good subject.  A reporter is going to Martin's house on Monday to interview him, together with a photographer to take his picture.  If, and when, the article is printed I shall scan it and put it up on this website.  Jack is still suffering in a big way with a racking cough and general feeling of utter tiredness and aching in every part of him.  This means Martin will not be featuring in much of our weekend activities.  So far I have escaped this rather nasty bug and lets hope it stays that way.

Thursday 29th September 2005

Well tonight (Thursday) is Martin's big night out.  It's at the 'Red Lion' where a band know as 'Badness' are playing.  According to form they're good entertainment so quite a few of Martin's colleagues are planning on being there too.  Much of the weeks activity, so far, has been to facilitate this evening, and Jan was engaged to Taxi him to and from the venue since my chest infection is far too nasty for me to be anywhere close to him at the moment.  Late yesterday Martin asked if Jan could possibly give a lift to two people, rather than just the one, to which she said yes.  He said it was important that she knew who the other person was and went on to tell that it was the friend of his who lives in High Wycombe who was in the car with him on that terrible night in March.  He's staying overnight at Martin's place, in the spare bed and presumably travelling back down South tomorrow - but I'm not sure about that.  Martin's pleased to see him and has welcomed him as a friend.  Jan and I both agree that there is absolutely nothing to be gained by not acknowledging this friendship and so Jan again replied that she would transport them both to and from the venue.  I hope that the group 'Badness' is as good as everyone expects, but most of all I hope that Martin manages to have a good night out and returns home safe and well.  You'll all have to wait until tomorrow to find out how it all went - except of course those of you that were there tonight.
 

Wednesday 28th September 2005

As reported, in yesterday's log, Martin planned to go shopping in Handley today (Wednesday) with me (Jan) tagging along to drive, carry purchases and pickup any unfortunate being that might unwittingly wander in Martin's wrong side (the left) and subsequently get knocked to the ground.  Our first call, however, was to North Staffs to have an errant stitch removed that eluded the former stitch removal process.  It turned out to be an internal stitch that had made a bid for freedom and worked it's way out though his scalp.  Martin was advised not to pull at it under any circumstances lest some of his brain be attached to the other end.  Apparently they dissolve internally but they don't in the open.  Hanley was not overly busy, which suited us, but we mainly confined the shopping to the Potteries Centre where there is a bench to relax (collapse) on at regular intervals.  On our way to W H Smiths Martin disappeared and I discovered him in 'Game' - he claimed that a strange force had kidnapped him and drawn him in there. Uh!  We met a colleague in H W Smith who was comparing CD prices, and if you are reading this P M (not The PM), the pen works very well.  On to Debenhams, which made a considerable hole in Martin's bank account, followed by a bite to eat and then home - exhausted.  I left him and his shopping on his sofa, planning to stay put for a long time.  No sooner had I got through my front door when Martin phoned me to tell me that the Sentinel (the local paper) had phoned him.  More about that tomorrow.

Tuesday 27th September 2005

According to reports Martin was in a good frame of mind today, and the various planned activities went without significant incident.  When Jan arrived at Wetley Rocks this morning she found him out and about - he'd locked the house and was contemplating crossing the busy road to get to the post office.  His next door neighbour had seen him outside and had gone out to see if he could help, not knowing what Martin had in mind.   Anyway Jan arrived in time to pick Martin up and then drive to the post office - which is not as extravagant as it might sound, as they had to go past it anyway on their way towards 'town'.   First stop was the Haywood hospital where Martin was to see his rehabilitation coordinator.  Martin has located a 'stitch', on his scalp, that either got overlooked when he had the others removed recently or is an internal one that's found it's way to the surface.  Whatever the reason, it's got to go, so a firm-ish appointment has been made to call in tomorrow (Wednesday) morning to Ward 23, where one of the staff will remove the offending stitch, and presumably check to see if there are any more of them.  After his medical appointment Martin and Jan went swimming, where once again Martin was quite ambitious and tried to exercise his arms as best as he could.  All that treading water (as if - the pool has a maximum depth of something under 6 feet) - a great hunger had been worked up so it was a short drive to 'Fatty Arbuckles' where Martin demolished an impressive burger 'stack'.  By then it was time for home, Jan dropping Martin at Wetley Rocks, before returning to liberate Bella from her indoor kennel.  Tomorrow's plans have been 'firmed up now with the above visit to Ward 23, which is to be followed by a shopping session 'up Hanley duck'. 

Monday 26th September 2005

Back to work this morning after a weekend under the car that was best forgotten.  Having said that I had a dream last night and in it was a social gathering of French car factory workers who were sitting around drinking wine and eating snails.  They were laughing at my exploits comprising a series of  failures in my attempts at hooking that clutch cable end over it's impossible to see little hook behind the pedals.   My how they laughed.  I'd just about decided to get my own back on them by waking up when I saw one of them insert a strange little tool into the aperture of a snail and 'winkle' out the meaty bit.  Wait a minute, that was tool that I needed for the clutch cable.  Obviously a job that can be done in a few minutes by a Frenchman with access to such a device, whilst for us 'Roast Beef' English it took virtually two days and the occasional airing of an 'interesting' vocabulary.   Anyway, you'll all be pleased to hear that the job was finally completed, as reported last night, and 'it' was taken for an acceptance test run this morning to Froghall.  This is where Jan takes Bella for her morning exercise.  You'll also be pleased to hear that Martin continues his gradual improvement.   At work today people stopped me to say how very pleased they were to see him on Friday, when he spent a few hours there.   Everyone who spoke to him impressed upon me how good they thought he was, chatting away, and returning their greetings by saying how pleased he was to see them.   I was further moved today when I received a note to say that the canteen manager, who has always been a good friend of mine and Martin's (not least because of his regular consumption of 'Coke'), decided that a collection of loose coins that had over the months accumulated in the shop (grown from the few pence change that people sometimes don't wait for) should be credited into Martin's recovery fund.  I'm sure that Martin will be as touched by this gesture as I was.  Swimming is on the agenda tomorrow, and he and Jan will be off to Festival Park to so do (Hmmm nice one Jan - that's a good way of getting all that French grease out from under your nails).

Sunday 25th September 2005

Log by Jan

After having no contact with Martin since Friday night my concern as to his welfare grew as time went on. I'd left several messages and he eventually phoned me this afternoon, and all was well.  His guest, former girl friend from down south, had just left to catch her bus so he decided to ring.  We chatted for a while and he told me that they'd walked to the nearby garage which has a well stocked shop attached to it and did some shopping.  Martin prepared a meal and they watched a French film on TV which had sub titles.  Martin found the sub titles almost impossible to follow because of his sight problems, he could only read the ends of the sentences.  I dared not stay on the phone too long as I was leaving Jack to do all the work on my car.  To say that changing a clutch cable on a BX is tricky is a huge understatement.  Jack said "if it happens again - scrap it!".  It was all done and dusted by 5pm but it had taken the two of us 2 days to do it . A shower, tea, and turn in, were the next things on the agenda and Jack managed that OK.  I'm not so lucky as there is always jobs to be done and the log to write but once I've finished I'm going to hit the sack too.

Saturday 24th September 2005

Well, nothings been heard from Martin today.  Jan spoke to him last night and the conversation was interrupted by a knock at his door.   This we believe was the 'expected' surprise visitor, who'd travelled up from Guilford to see him.  We've been busy for most of the day sorting out Jan's car.  The clutch cable had snapped and a quick look in the manual suggested that it was a fairly straight forward DIY job.   First problem was tracking one down - yes we've one in stock - err no we haven't although the computer says we have...!!   Fortunately the sales assistant did track down another but it meant a trip to Kidsgrove to finally procure it.  Then to remove the old broken cable......or not!!   Jan and I wrestled with the metalwork around the pedals trying to release the old cable - it just hangs over a simple hook on the pedal and ought to just about fall off.   It didn't fall off and couldn't be coaxed off either.  Anyway I eventually succumbed to the 'brute force and ignorance' approach (both of which I'm proudly overqualified in) and grabbed all the pedals and heaved.  Easy really - if only I'd been heavy handed and aggressive from the start it would have been easy.   Of course it got too dark to start fitting the new one - well we've got to have something to do tomorrow.   Many congratulations to Mr and Mrs Joke Man who's 'bumper bundle' has finally arrived.  Hello to 'Katie Louise' - and indeed well done to Julie who's had to all the hard work.  Still no news from Martin, even though we've left a couple of messages on his phone.  Not to worry, he must be OK because we know what happens when he isn't.  

Friday 23rd September 2005

As planned Martin had lunch with his mates in the staff canteen, but not until he'd had an important meeting at our house this morning.  Everyone at work seemed really pleased to see him, and he sort of drifted from area to area as people almost queued to greet him.  He had a really good meal from the 'World Marche' servery, was introduced informally to the new chef, and welcomed like a long lost mate by the canteen manager (who must have taken a loss with all those cans of Coke and cartons of chips not sold over the last 7 months).  After lunch it was back to his section to chat about all sorts of things; quite a lot of work related stuff, a few on-line games  hints and tips, and last but not least catching up with the latest gossip news.  Jan, who'd ferried him about during the morning was able to retire home  for the afternoon, well not for too long because she'd been booked for the homeward leg at 4 pm. (she was driving my car because hers has - errr - I don't want to talk about it!)   When she did return she was slightly disappointed that her 'fares' were no where to be seen - I was up to my eyebrows with work related problems, and Martin was still in maxi chat mode in his department.  In fact Martin had signalled that he'd have to leave but his line manager had squirreled him off into a meeting room to discuss some financial arrangements regarding Martin's immediate future.  Anyway after about 30 minutes we both managed to convene at the car for the journey home.   Martin had been up and about, climbing stairs, walking up and down corridors etc., for a lengthy 4 hours or so, and he was pretty much exhausted.  On the way home we suggested a 'take away' for tea, at our house, which Martin agreed to, so that's what we had.  I took him home about 7.30 pm, as he didn't want to be very late for two reasons; he's very tired, and he's expecting a surprise visitor from the south (can you expect a surprise visitor? - I wonder).  So lots of people have come into really close contact with Martin today, so I'm expecting a significant 'flurry' of guestbook entries from folk telling the rest of us exactly what they thought - how they found him.  So come on guys lets hear it - lets push 'looney-lass' into second position on the guestbook front.

Thursday 22nd September 2005

I gather that sometime after I left Martin's yesterday (around teatime), he had a couple of visitors (from the factory), who Martin was very pleased to see - nice one guys. Also today Jack had a phone call from a friend in Portugal who wanted to know all about Martin's current condition - he'd been reading the logs but couldn't believe he was making such good progress following his recent operation. Jack was able to tell him that the log hardly does his improvement justice. There's an open invitation for us all to get together for a good meal somewhere, sometime soon - it's just that the travel might present a bit of a problem at the moment, not to mention the time off work.  Anyway Jack challenged him to a pool tournament, hoping that he'd forgotten the secret of winning - get the hosts tired and preferably 'well oiled' then, wait until the 'wee small hours' and finally take them to the cleaners.  Nice one!  This morning was Bella's training class and, as some of you may remember she somewhat disgraced herself a few weeks ago. Well, she didn't do anything like that this week but 'wait' seemed to mean 'come' and 'come' was the signal for 'I can't hear you'. I called in to see Martin very briefly on my way home and as usual he and Bella were delighted to see each other. Bella goes slightly mad and gallops upstairs and stays there until Martin goes after her, then she immediately gallops back down again. Martin is ready for this, which is a lucky because otherwise they would both end up in a heap on the flag-stones at the foot of the stairs - not to be recommended.  Jack is suffering with a nasty bug (sore throat, cough, etc.,) and is wisely staying well away from Martin. Also, since his work load at the moment is very heavy, I have hardly seen him for days either. I will be delivering Martin to his work place at dinner time tomorrow (Friday), where he's going to have lunch with some of his colleagues. So if you are around the canteen at lunch time, watch out for him. I think Martin is looking lots better than he did a couple of weeks ago - but since I see him every day it's hard to tell. So if you see him, tell us what you think - put a comment in the guest book - it's easy to do.... and Martin reads it regularly.
 

Wednesday 21st September 2005

Last night (Tuesday) Martin ran himself a hot deep bath.  After enjoying a lengthy soak during which he washed his hair and scalp, he reported that he felt much better, and his hair although 7 months 'long', when combed, quite nicely concealed his most recent surgery scars.  Of course he's recently had the stitches removed from his scalp and after his bath he said he was getting just a slight 'itch' from that area - hardly surprising if you ask me.  He's also been considering a visit to work later in the week and has been checking up on the 'canteen' menu, and rather fancies Friday's.  So it looks as though he'll be coming along to the factory on Friday, at about 1 pm, having lunch with some of his friends, then perhaps doing a bit of socialising later until I take him back home at about 4 pm.  I think he'll be speaking to key people at work over the next couple of days to help him facilitate this plan.  Lets hope he has a good time and that all his colleagues get a chance to talk to him and encourage him with his recovery plan - which I know includes a goal of  'get back to work'.  Still no news of Joke Man's little 'bun' (watch the guestbook for up to date information).

Tuesday 20th September 2005

Bella our mischievous lurcher spent last night (Sunday) in Martin's room and it seems that at 4am she decided she wanted to play.  I rather think that he welcomed this as preferable to his normal lying awake for hours on end staring at the walls.  At 8am he was wide awake as I was preparing to take Bella for her regular morning walk by the canal at Froghall.  I hinted that it would be nice if he came along and to my utter surprise he said that he too was just thinking along those lines.  Bella certainly liked the idea and kept throwing his socks at his feet, as if to say 'come on then get dressed' - I kid you not!  Martin walked confidently and further than he had done for a long time.  This afternoon he had an appointment at Haywood with a different sort of head doctor.  We got there early so that we could visit 'rehab' and catch up with his ward buddy who shares his name.  Both he and the nurses were pleased to to see him and commented on how well he looked.  The next thing was getting him back to his own home at Wetley Rocks where we watched a thriller DVD which we both enjoyed.  Today I could see a real positive attitude and feel his ambition to start back to work is strong now.  I believe he is trying to organise a trip to work on Thursday.

Monday 19th September 2005

We were all up, bright, and relatively early this morning.  I'd to get to the factory early to 'baby sit' some new facilities that were going 'live', and Jan and Martin had to be up early to go to the hospital where Martin had some tests planned.  Jan took him and decided to leave him there as there were a few things to do - stitches to be removed and an MRI scan to be carried out - she to go back there later for afternoon visiting.   This gave her an opportunity to do some shopping to get the ingredients to make a special apple crumble for Gina and her boyfriend, who were calling by after their successful camping weekend in the Derbyshire Dales.  When she returned to the hospital in the afternoon, Martin was still away at the other hospital (City) where he was to have his MRI scan - so a plan was agreed whereby Jan would go there and deliver him back to his ward - thus cutting out the potentially frustrating wait for organised transportation.   After delivering him, and his documents, back,  she left him so she could come home to prepare for 'us lot' (that's me, Gina and Simon) who were expected home between 4.30 and 6.00.   As it was, we all more or less arrived at the same time, a little after six, and tucked into a good tea and a really super apple crumble.  Jan then left for the hospital again, and after about an hour or so, Gina and Simon left for Lincolnshire - and then, within minutes Jan returned from the hospital, with Martin who's been discharged.  He's got no bandages on his head, and we can see for the first time that he no longer sports a 'depression' but rather a smooth and properly rounded head.  There are the stitches of course - even though removed it is currently clear to see where they were - but from previous experience with such things we know these will almost disappear in a relatively short period of time.  Martin has done a lot of walking today, something that we and he are proud of, as he walked much better than he has for some time.  I think that the final barrier has now been removed (actually replaced) and he can look forward to a steady recovery process in the future.  He's hoping to spend a little more time with his colleagues, maybe even by spending a couple of hours at work with them.  This I'm sure is what he needs more that anything now - to integrate with his work mates and start to get his knees back under the proverbial table.

Sunday 18th September 2005

Log by Jan

I have to eat my words about 'the dog' having a sense of being careful around Martin. When I'd just got in from our morning walk,d she scuttled off and leaped straight on to Martin's bed and trampled all over him before I could stop her.  It was sheer luck that no damage was done but needless to say 'the dog' is in 'the dog house', - bad Bella!!   Whether it was due to that or something else I don't know but Martin has been in a very quiet mood today hardly saying a word - but he did assure me that there nothing wrong.  He told me he would like to go to his own house for a while.  I ferried him to Wetley Rocks at lunch time and alerted Jack, who was at work (as usual), to pick him up on his way back from the factory.  They arrived back late afternoon and had their dinner.  Then Martin helped me with the washing up and clearing away (was that a pig overhead?), whilst Jack retired to push up loads of `Zzzz's`.

Saturday 17th September 2005

This morning was full of commotion as Gina and her boyfriend prepared for their camping weekend in the Peak District and I set them up for the day with a cooked breakfast.  Martin who had been awake for hours elected to pass on the 'vittles' preferring to stay where it was warm and comfortable - who can blame him as there was a definite chill in the air and a good layer of frost on my car windscreen.  Bella sneaked in to his room and kept him company, while she's boisterous and apt to jump all over everyone else, she somehow knows not to do that with Martin.  Jack had commitments at work and disappeared, so by mid morning when Martin got up we were on our own.  We put on a DVD to watch - 'SAHARA' described as "Stunning, high-octane fun" . It was an entertaining adventure film but there was nothing particularly special about it and guest what - the hero got the girl in the end. Ooops! I hope I haven't spoilt it for anyone!  Martin is of course recuperating from his 'op' and is rightly taking things easy so chilling out and eating well is the order of the day.  He does very little complaining but I can see he is suffering from painful headaches and back pain most, if not all the time.

Friday 16th September 2005

Not a lot to report today - Martin's spent the day resting, mostly in a comfy chair in the lounge, and watching TV.  He's had 'Bella' at his feet for most of the day also, although I understand she had a 'mad half hour' this morning (Jan thought Bella must have been eating mushrooms or something similar).  Gina and Simon arrived this evening to stop over - they're on their way for a camping weekend in the Derbyshire Dales and thought it would be rather difficult to set up the tent in the dark and much easier in the morning.  They've had a late-ish night (by my standards that is), so maybe they won't be off that early tomorrow after all.  Martin seems to be bright enough, considering the week he's had, although he's still got a headache that sometimes gets him down.  There's been some interesting guest book entries, people wishing him well, and some humorous ones,  but as yet no news of Joke Man's expected arrival (a bumper bundle?).  The weekend is set to be a busy one for me, with quite a few commitments on the work front, but we'll try and do something as well that Martin can take part in.  Watch this space for more news tomorrow. 

Thursday 15th September 2005

I was just looking forward to finishing work this afternoon when I received a call from Jan, who was at the hospital.   I'd been expecting such a call to arrange how we were going to handle evening visiting, was I going to grab a snack at home and then make my way there, or was Jan going to come home after early visiting so that we could go back together this evening.   Imagine my surprise when, as soon as I answered the phone, Jan told me that Martin was being allowed to go home today, and that he was getting ready as we spoke.  I had to go straight to the hospital and pick them both up and bring them home.  What a journey!  Every possible obstruction, every single red light, and horrendous traffic in the town centre, all meant that I was nearly an hour getting there (it normally takes about 25 minutes from home and about the same from work, although via a different route).   Martin was quite eager to leave the hospital and was almost pacing up and down in the ward by the time I arrived.  However he said his goodbyes, and good lucks, to the other guys in the ward, and of course to the staff, and then we were off.  We called at a local 'chippy' to get some 'nosh' on the way home - which Martin tucked in to like a good 'un  - and he left a very clean plate.  The hospital say he's recovered really well from his surgery (it was on Monday and it's only Thursday) and that although they've made him an appointment for him on Monday, they saw no reason why he shouldn't be allowed to come home on 'ward leave'.  They've told him (and us) that if Martin has any problems whatsoever to contact them for advise - and if the worst came to the worst and he had to go back in, there'd be no problem because he still has a bed on the ward.  I was quite amazed at the efficiency of the arrangements this afternoon, specifically with medicines that were organised and acquired from the dispensary - within the hour (things that are notorious for taking a long time).   So I'll have to have a slice of 'humble pie' since I'm usually the first to criticise the apparent lack of efficiency within such institutions.   Right that's quite enough of that, thank you very much (I don't like humble pie anyway).  Apologies to any friends or colleagues who dropped by the hospital this evening, as I didn't get much of an opportunity to let everyone know what was happening.

Wednesday 14th September 2005

After a full day at work, for me today, I went along to the evening visiting where I met up, not just with Martin, but with Jan and her sister and brother in law.  They'd driven up from London and had been on target for arriving in time for the afternoon visiting, but the horrendous traffic they encountered when they left the motorway meant that they only managed a little over 30 minutes with Martin before the end of the early session.  They all stayed in town and had a pub meal - which was a bit of a DIY affair - but it sounded as though they enjoyed it.   Martin had a fairly severe headache, which when you think about it is no great surprise.  His bandage which had been wrapped around his head in what I'd term 'Crimean' fashion, had worked it's way upwards and off during the night and early morning.  Someone was going to come around and re-apply a bandage in a short while, but definitions of time periods change in hospitals and no longer seem to have the same meaning that we expect them to have.  Anyway he's been called pineapple head today because of his hair sticking upwards, trained by the now missing bandage and set with sticky stuff from his wound.  He's wondering how they'll clean things up and is not really looking forward to his next shampoo and shower.   He got a bit chatty later on and was telling more about his discussions with the surgeon before and after his operation.  OK he's still in a lot of pain and daren't touch those incredibly itchy areas on his scalp, but his overall condition is amazing, bearing in mind it's less than 3 days since his op'.  He's still plumbed up for doses of antibiotics which, we all know, he has to take the full course of.  The canula  (is that right) is capped after each application of these drugs and then becomes the source of annoyance as it tangles in the blanket whenever he moves his hand  (when it does catch it obviously pulls against the skin and vein and it hurts - a lot).   Anyway he's hoping to finish with the antibiotics soon and thus be able to have it removed (no - not his hand).  That'll be one less thing to annoy him.  He introduced quite a bit of humour into his conversations and we all had a bit of a chuckle.  I asked him if he'd got anything of note in his busy schedule tomorrow - which made him smile - then he said he didn't think so.  He also wanted a run down on who'd left messages on the guest book and what they'd said.  We're hopeful that he'll be allowed home on Friday, though this is by no means definite.  We'll just have to wait and see.

Tues
day 13th September 2005

When we arrived for visiting at 2pm we found Martin apprehensive about the imminent removal of his head drain.  He had been waiting quite some time but was told they would be along 'in a minute'.  Another hour passed and yet again he was assured by a passing nurse that they would be with him soon.  3 o'clock came and went and still no sign of action.  The drain bag had been secured to the chair he was sitting in, virtually keeping him a prisoner in the chair.  His back was getting more and more uncomfortable and he just wanted the drain out so that he could lie down.  We left him at 4pm and were betting that he would still be waiting for this procedure to be carried out when we returned at 6pm.  However when we did return we found him eating his tea and minus the drain.  The removal, he told us, was very unpleasant because the tube was 6-8 inches long lying between his scull and his brain....Ouch!!  Glad that was over, he gave us the low down on all the events of the day.  The consultant had visited him and was happy with Martin's progress but puzzled by his memory of events in theatre while under the anesthetic so the anesthetist is going to be asked to go and see Martin.  Although tired and sore Martin is doing well and was cheered by a visit from by a couple from work - thanks for popping in guys.  Martin's looking forward to seeing his Aunt and Uncle tomorrow who are coming up from London.

Monday 12th September 2005

After an sleepless night for us both, we checked with the hospital this morning to see if Martin's operation was on schedule - it was (there's been no overnight emergencies necessitating the postponement of his surgery).  We asked what time it would all be starting and we were told he'd be 'taken down' at about 09:30 and we should ring up about 11:30 - 12:00 to check on his return to the ward.  So we did all those things you do when you're stressed - I washed the car, Jan did some ironing, and we both paced about in no particular direction.  Jan called at 11:30 and again at 12:00.  I called again at 12:30 and again just before one.  In each case we were told that he wasn't yet back from theatre - although on the 1 o'clock call we were informed that he was in the recovery room and would be brought back to the ward soon, and to phone again in 30 minutes.   Instead of phoning we headed off to the hospital and got there just after the start of visiting at 2 pm.  I parked the car and headed for the ward where Martin had been last night - empty - gulp!   Just then I was spotted by a nurse who directed me to a room at the opposite end of the ward, which was fully occupied and as I went in there was Martin watching and (almost) smiling.  He was obviously very groggy still but I was amazed how well he was doing, only an hour or two after having fairly major surgery.  He wanted to tell us all how it had gone and says that he heard the voices of the surgeons throughout - even to the point that they were interfering with his dreams - which were centred on collecting grapes.  Anyway as he talked he got more and more with it and apart from the external signs, bandages and drips, it was as if he'd just woken from a deep sleep.  He asked for a drink and more or less insisted on the 'fizzy' variety and got annoyed when he thought we weren't listening to him - so I think that shows he's pretty much back to normal.  He's going to be in ward 23 for at least 3 or 4 days I think, but after that they'll be keen to move him on liberate the bed for someone else (though I doubt they'll keep the extra long bed).  If you want to call in and see him, no problem - he's not likely to be away - just remember visiting restrictions are in force ( 2 - 4 and 6 'till 8 ).  He's actually quite annoyed because he'd teed everyone up to shave his whole head as part of the procedure, but it's quite clear from the clumps of hair showing from under his bandage that his request was ignored.   

Sunday 11th September 2005

We spent a fair amount of time with Martin today, taking him first of all out for lunch and then conveying him to the hospital later.  When we phoned this morning to ascertain that there was indeed a bed available for him, we were greeted like long lost friends and told to just bring him along between 5 and 6 and they'd be ready for him.   Lunch was exceptional, even though we just went along to the nearest 'food' serving pub.  We'd hoped to get Gina to tag along but she wanted to dash off back to Lincolnshire,  so after spending a bit of quality time with Martin this morning, that's exactly what she did.  At lunch Martin had a whopping burger, with all the trimmings, which he managed to clear without any help from Jan or me.  It was good to see him tucking in and enjoying food - something that he rarely seems to do (which seems rather strange to both of his parents!!).  Anyway he was in 'good form' and seemed to be enjoying himself (between dizzy spells and the now obligatory headaches).  This evening he was all packed and ready to be collected for transportation to the hospital.  In fact as we pulled up outside his house we hardly had time to get out of the car - he'd set his alarm and slammed his door and was there!  When we got him to hospital we went straight to the back door of ward 23 and he went straight in.  He was ushered politely to a room in the ward, a four person ward with Martin being the only 'inmate', and lo and behold there in the corner was a 'super bed' - an extra long 'all singing and dancing' bed that they'd ordered in specially for him.  We stayed with him through visiting time (18:00 - 20:00) and then  before leaving we managed to ascertain that he's scheduled to be 'first on' in the morning - unexpected emergencies permitting.  We also cleared with the staff as what time we should start pestering them post operation (lunchtime-ish they said), and also made sure that we can go and visit him in the afternoon (which we can).   I'll drop a quick update into the 'guestbook' tomorrow, once we know how things are going ourselves, and I'll also update the log with the full information tomorrow evening.

Saturday 10th September 2005

A day of apprehension for us all - even though we're not 100% sure that Martin's going into hospital tomorrow, that is at least the master plan.   All could change if, due to some emergency, there's no bed for him at the hospital when we phone in the morning (Sunday) to check.  Assuming that there is, we'll be taking him along to Ward 23 at North Staffs Royal Infirmary (or as it's now known, the 'University Hospital of North Staffs').  After that there'll be a series of preparatory checks and tests that will be carried out to prepare him for surgery on Monday.  We will endeavour to keep all his family and friends up to date via these pages (logs) and also on the guestbook (for interim information).  Please feel free to use the guestbook for encouragement, as always.  Martin has been busy today doing those last minute jobs that you have to do before going into hospital. 

Friday 9th September 2005

Log by Jan

I pulled up outside Martin's house this morning and the front door opened a crack and a small 'white' cane waved at me followed by Martin's face with a cheeky grin and that familiar glint in his eye.  We went off to the Moat House for a swimming and exercise session.   The water seemed to be freezing, I think because the air temperature was higher, and it took a heroic effect from Martin to get himself submerged.  Once in he did several widths and a modicum of arm movements before retiring to the changing room to get dry and dressed.  Martin chose Fatty Arbuckle's for lunch and since he didn't eat at all yesterday I was so glad to see him enjoying a hearty meal.  Afterwards he had no desire to go any where else but home, so I dropped him off at his house leaving him with an open invitation to come over or go out somewhere at the weekend.  A great surprise was waiting for me when I got home and opened my email - Gina intends to come for the weekend.  She got here about 6pm and we got a fantastic Chinese takeaway and then polished off a couple of bottles of Rosé wine.

Thursday 8th September 2005

Martin's Occupational therapist arrived for her session at 10.30.and put Martin through his paces doing hand and arm exercises with him.  She had only just left when I turned up with Bella, hot foot and paw from the dog training class.  Bella required minor first aid after a slight altercation with a fellow student from the class before ours.  Just a little antiseptic to a small wound on her right hind leg, fortunately it's nothing serious.  Martin is always pleased to see Bella and it's obvious the feeling is mutual, as she settled down at his feet and stayed there the whole time.  We left him at 1pm because Martin was expecting a visit from his work's management.  He phoned me this afternoon with the news that the meeting had gone very well and his return to work plans were discussed.  This is Martin's ultimate goal.  After his recovery from the surgery he is due to have on Monday, he is determined to get himself fit enough to return to work part time (at least to start with).  He is very motivated to get his strength and stamina up and asked me if I could take him swimming tomorrow and he said that he'd treat me to lunch afterwards.  I'm picking him up a 11am.  Martin received his telescopic 'white' stick today - only slight problems are that it's metallic grey in colour and folds up - necessitating the use of two hands to actually do this.....hmmmm!!   Apparently the stick has a label on it 'Supplied by the  Institute for the Blind' - that probably explains why no one spotted is wasn't white.
 

Wednesday 7th September 2005

Martin was feeling better today, than he was yesterday, when I picked him up from Wetley Rocks this afternoon.  I called on my way home from work, and took him home for a nice cooked meal.  He seemed to appreciate the trouble that Jan had gone to to conjure up the food and certainly did it justice by cleaning his plate, and making sure that absolutely no meat was left on the bone when he'd finished his meal.  As I said earlier he was better than he had been recently, although he still had a fairly severe headache, something that he's had to learn to contend with of late.  Tablets don't really seem to help, they just introduce other effects that are in themselves unpleasant, so Martin just tries to 'overcome' the pain barrier without any artificial help.  I note from the guestbook that only one of our readers rose to the challenge and told us what has been happening in, and around, their neck of the woods.  There must be more tales to tell - I know of some myself, but it would perhaps be better if these were documented by people closer to those stories.  'Looneylass' (see guestbook) is in prolific form, as the entries she's placed will substantiate.  'Joke Man' has gone quiet again - I suspect he's waiting expectantly for something rather special to come along.  If I'm right, perhaps we'll soon hear what it is?  So come on, everybody - use it, the guestbook that is!   Here's some statistics gathered from Martin's web site over the last 6 weeks (not including this weeks data).  It seems that there's a general 'downward' trend from a little over 2,200 page loads at the start of this period to just 1000 last week. 

 

  

Tuesday 6th September 2005

It's been a busy day for us all today, especially Jan who's plans for a well organised day went straight out of the window when the man arrived to patch the damaged rendering on the house, minutes after she'd phoned someone else to do the job, because we'd heard nothing from him.  Anyway, he came along and wanted to get going, but hadn't brought enough materials (sand and cement) so sent us out to get some for him.  Anyway cutting a long story short we managed to furnish him with enough raw materials to do the job.  Meanwhile Martin had to be taken to the hospital, and Jan indeed did this but not until she'd had her hair done, which was one of the things in her original plan.  I'd arranged to have the afternoon off, because of Jan's commitments on the Martin front she'd not be available, to field an insurance loss adjuster who'd phoned last week to say he wanted to visit us to review a subsidence claim we have lodged.  Phew, everyone got sorted, including Martin who was subjected to a number of 'tests', including a chest x-ray, to ascertain if he's well enough for next weeks surgery - which it seems he is.  A planned meal out with us this evening was curtailed because Martin got a bit travel sick on the journey to and from the hospital and asked to be taken straight home, where he decided to stay.    

Monday 5th September 2005

Log by Jan

Last night (Sunday) I sent a text and left a message on Martin's answer machine saying I'd pick him up at 10am this morning (Monday) to go swimming. At 10.15 (I was a bit late) I hammered on his door for a while but got no response, so I went off to fill up with 'motion lotion' but Wetley Rocks was dry. Apparently with the impending petrol price increases everyone had got there before me.  I filled up further afield and returned to find Martin waiting for me.  He was suffering with severe headaches all yesterday and today was not much better.  Things didn't seem to being going too well and at the Moat House pool a couple of girls cut short their swimming session because, they said, the water was so cold.  Martin has a problem with cold as it can actually cause him to feel pain. I checked with the staff, they tested the water temp and declared it only 1 degree below normal. Martin steeled himself and waded in.  It wasn't that bad, and he set about exercising his arms and legs. He had a couple of short swims and out of the pool, dried, then home in time for the physio.  I left him there but he phoned later to say he'd worked very hard with the physio. Meanwhile I had a message from the Hospital wanting him to go as soon as possible for a chest x-ray and an MRSA test, so I guess that's what we will be doing tomorrow.  The other news they asked me to pass on to Martin was that they have located his piece of skull and he will be reunited with it next week.  Tonight Martin had a long phone conversation with his old friend who now lives down south and afterwards phoned me again. We discussed a number of issues including bone versus titanium plate. I think he rather hoped for the 'hi-tec' option.  He still has a bad headache and doesn't expect to sleep much again tonight.  At 12.45 am I bade him good night and set about writing this log and that's perhaps why it is now 2.21am. 

Sunday 4th September 2005

Six full calendar months have passed since the accident.  There's no indication yet when Martin will be able to go back to work, although everyone hopes it will be soon.  It seems, at times, much longer than  6 months.  Martin, of course, missed the first few weeks as he was in his 'never never land', the place that he wrote about so fluently in his story.  I don't know yet when it will be published, but Martin has intimated that he will finish off his story - perhaps he'll get to complete it once he's complete - that would be rather fitting.  I'm also reminded by family members that other things have been happening in the world, some notable events (weddings, christenings, etc.,) to family members.  Although these have not gone unnoticed, or unrecorded, they have been at times overshadowed by the events documented within these pages.  So guys and gals, family, friends or whoever (Oh and your 'Royal Highness' - just in case she reads this, you understand) , why not tell everyone what's been going on in your 'neck of the woods' by writing an entry to the guestbook - it's not just there for Martin specific news - you can put what you like there.  This way everyone who reads these pages and visits the guestbook will know.  Let's start with a theme....  'What's happened to you and your family since March 4th'.  If there's anything of super importance that you'd like to shout from the rooftops, you can always drop me an email (or tell me in the guestbook) and I'll publish it in these pages.  Over to you......

Saturday 3rd September 2005

We asked Martin to baby sit 'Bella' today (or was it the other way round - no I think I was right the first time) whilst Jan and me headed North to Wakefield to see my Mum.   It's not really that long since we last saw her, well I suppose it depends who you ask, as we took her to see friends and relations from Canada in July - oops perhaps it was a while since we saw her.  Anyway based on Bella's recent record and the likely period of loneliness, we thought it best if someone was around to keep her amused whilst we were away.  The plan worked well in that the house and contents survived intact during our absence, and Martin and Bella got the opportunity to do some serious 'bonding' which also seems to have been a success.  My mother was frail, as expected, and rather more 'wobbly' on her feet than normal (she's usually pretty bad), due to the fact that she took a fall yesterday (Friday) in the nursing home (fell off her bed apparently) and has hurt her knee.  This made even the shortest of journeys (wheel chair to car seat for example) take many minutes and have to done a fraction of an inch at a time.  However allowances have to be made, as they were, and we eventually headed off in the direction of the Yorkshire Dales, as per her request.  We had a meal in the car - well we didn't have time to get everyone from car to restaurant and back again afterwards - and we took in some of the classic points of interest, such as the 'Cow and Calf' rocks (overlooking the town of Ilkley, and thus on Ilkley Moor - and as the song goes we didn't have our hats on - so we're bound to catch our death of cold!!), quaint little villages such as Appletreewick, and more popular spots including Bolton Abbey, and Pateley Bridge.  We had a toilet stop and mini walk around the latter before returning to Wakefield via the bright lights of Harrogate and Leeds.  Grandma is getting very excited because she's expecting a great grandchild any time now - in fact it's due on the 12th September, which is by  chance the day that Martin's 'reunion' is planned (that's when his skull flap is to be replaced).  I think that perhaps 'Joke Man' may have other things on his mind over the next couple of weeks - let's watch the guestbook and see if this is the case.  We expect an announcement in the guest book when 'baby' arrives - whoever you are....Paul. 

Friday 2nd September 2005

Log by Jan

Due to the persistence of an unaccompanied dog that harassed Bella, as I took her for what was supposed to be a short walk, I was late picking Martin up for his medical appointment this morning.  I had just 20mins to get him from Wetley Rocks to Ward 23 at the  NSRI - no easy task.  A skilful selection of route ( I thought ), taking in to account traffic trends for the time of day,  got him in to Ward 23 with maybe 10 seconds to spare. Very pleased with myself I said to Martin 'Impressed?',  'NO' he said.  (Note to myself - must try harder).    The assessment medical started right on time.  They questioned, prodded, poked, and blood tested him. They listened to his lungs and heart and tested his eyesight, hearing and memory.  All done in just over 1 hour 30 minutes. Nothing 'bad' showed up and surgery should go ahead (apt word) as planned in 9 days time. We set off back - using 'Martin's route' - to Leek and to meet a few friends that were having a lunch time leaving  'get together' for one of the girl's from work.  At 2pm we left, to return later to a near by pub, for a second session in the evening.  Jack came along with us and we spent a very pleasant couple of hours in good company. Before we left Leek we called in briefly at the Red Lion where we talked to more of Martin's friends. Home via a chip shop (what diet?). Bella had somehow got a jar of beetroot off the worktop and it had smashed on the floor. No detectable cuts - luckily.  Her 'indoor kennel' arrived today so that should be the end of coming home to a wrecked kitchen.
 

Thursday 1st September 2005

Log by Jan

I called in at Wetley Rocks this afternoon with some paper work. Martin was waiting for the doctor from the Social services department who was coming to access him.  The doctor arrived on time and checked Martin's passport as a means of verifying his identity.  I had to chuckle because the photo is nearly ten years old and shows Martin in glasses which he dispensed with, a couple of years ago, when he underwent laser eye surgery.  Martin joked that he'd wasted his money having both eyes done since he can no longer see to his left.  The Doc asked many questions to establish the extent of his injuries and did a few very basic physical checks of Martin's limb functions and eye sight.  His report will be sent to the 'Works and Pensions' people and joins reports from lots of other sources like Martins GP and other Social service departments.  This sets the 'wheels in motion' and someone, somewhere will eventually make a decision on what Martin is entitled to.  This evening Jack and I picked a very 'trendy' turned out Martin, to take him to the Red Lion in Leek. We went early to avoid the masses and were given a warm welcome by the manager and staff. We had a drink and chatted for a while and then went for a steak at JD's - very nice - and then back to the Red Lion.  Several people that Martin knew came to talk to him and we could see he was enjoying it all.  As the night progressed the volume of the music got louder and the place filled up in readiness for - wait for it - a live tribute band to the 'Bay City Rollers' ! WOW !  We were just leaving at 10pm as they started their first number which was strangely ' I only wanna be with you' - a hit for Dusty Springfield, I think. We dropped Martin off at his home, tired, but lifted by his evening out.  Lets hope he gets his sleep because he faces another medical tomorrow at North Staffs.

Wednesday 31st August 2005

Today we were graced with an other 'flying visit' from 'Loonylass' and co. - who are doing their multi visit Alton Towers ticket justice.  They had a quiet day in the theme park today, mainly because the queues were so big that they didn't bother with the rides.  Besides with the height restrictions, little junior has difficulty tracking down rides that he can  use.  Apparently it was really hot and humid and later in the day it spotted with rain a little, but not enough to spoil their day.  Anyway I digress.  Last time they called they said they'd like to see Martin the next time, so I was intercepted by mobile phone, whilst on my way home, and directed to pick up Martin (which involved just a little back tracking) and take him to our house.  He seemed quite good (as good as you can be, bearing in mind his condition), and seemed to enjoy everyone's company - even that of little A** who asked 'is he the one that had the accident?'   He seemed quite amazed when we confirmed that 'yes he was'.  We all had a good meal, I mean all, and after a short while I took Martin back home as he was starting to get a bit tired.  He's got another medical assessment tomorrow, this one to be carried out at Wetley Rocks.  This is to see if he's entitled to any invalidity allowances.  Many power cuts this evening have been playing havoc with all things electrical in the local area - although fortunately we've not suffered any significant outages here.

Tuesday 30th August 2005

An early start this morning, with Martin ready at 9:45 to be picked up for his 10:30 appointment at the Haywood.  Jan decided she'd 'touch base' with the Haywood before she set off to get Martin - just as well she did because the appointment was not until later this afternoon.  Lucky that she checked because those hospital waiting rooms can be the most depressing places, and to have to wait all day, well it would have been totally unbearable.  Later in the morning there came some other news that we've been expecting.  The health service machine is as we know continuously turning, and on one of the 'cogs' is the requirement to re-unite Martin with the piece of his skull (or a suitably fashioned hi-tec substitute) that was removed 6 months ago.  Well there has been a preliminary contact from the hospital about this, supporting the previous estimates of 'at the 6 months point' that we'd always been told in the past.  I know that this is something that Martin misses, and that he has long joked about having a titanium plate fitted, but I guess that now the time has come to actually do this surgery it must be a very scary time for him, and us!! (it was different last time - he had no say in the matter and came round from his unconscious state with it done).  I'm sure he'll be looking to his friends to 'shore him up' emotionally during the next couple of weeks as he prepares himself for this next phase of his treatment.  We'll let you all know when this is going to happen - we've a good idea ourselves of the date, but as with most things non urgent, there's a possibility this could change.  This evening we headed off down the A50 to Hatton for a meal at the 'Salt Box' and Martin elected to come along too.  Jan had a 'bacon chop' (her favourite), I had  'toad in the hole' (one of my favourites) and Martin had 'Cajun Chicken' with rice and chips (obviously one of his favourites too).  Because Martin was not as quick at eating as Jan and me, we had to have an ice cream sundae each whilst he finished his main course.  The three of us being well and truly 'stuffed' at this point we  'wobbled' out to the car and headed for home.  I chose a route that took us through a small village called 'Fauld', which Martin and I have been reading about on the internet recently.  Apparently the fourth loudest bang in WW2 (beaten only by the 3 nuclear blasts) was produced here when an underground bomb dump exploded throwing hundreds of tons of earth over the surrounding area and creating a crater over half a mile wide.  There's not much to see now though. We then staged via Cheadle where I stayed, Jan continuing on to Wetley Rocks to spend an hour or so watching TV/DVDs with him.  Glad to here that 'looneylass and Co.' made it home OK last night (see guestbook) - and I accept your feeble excuse for not taking Bella.

Monday 29th August 2005

First, can I, again thank all you great folk out there that continue loyally to read mine and Jack's humble offerings and those who also add comments to the guest book.   I'm a big fan of, what shall I say - the less risqué jokes particularly, but then I have, on occasion, been accused of being slightly narrow minded.  BS - thank you for asking what film it was, I was kind hoping someone would.  It was 'SAW' with Cary Elwes, Monica Potter and Danny Glover (only one I've heard of) It's cert 18 and Martin tells me that 'SAW 2' is coming out soon.  If it's like the first one it's not for the faint hearted.  I, Jan that is, am writing the log again because Jack is quite 'cream crackered' after this mornings swim and hours of wrestling with yesterdays acquisition from Dudley.  This morning we rang Martin to warn him of our imminent arrival to pick him up for swimming and got a sleepy voice that told us he was still in bed and our call woke him up - oooops!!  It seem that the illusive 'sandman' only found Wetley Rocks and Martin's house at 8 o'clock this morning.  We only had to wait a short time as Martin's skill at one handed washing and dressing is phenomenal.  The pool was not too crowded, as we had feared it might be, and Martin was in, acclimatised and doing arm exercises in no time.  He also bravely made his first attempts at swimming and got on pretty well.  All that exercise gives you an appetite and so on to the Toby Carvery ('China Garden' as was) for a good old traditional English roast dinner - excellent.  Hope everyone enjoyed the Bank holiday - Jan.
p.s.  This evening 'Looneylass' and Co. dropped by on their way from Alton Towers, where they'd been for the afternoon (probably after some new material for the guestbook).   We had a good laugh, they were introduced to 'Bella' (but didn't offer to take her with them) and got off in good time, as they have a fair old way to travel (they live almost in the shadow of another famous 'tower').

Sunday 28th August 2005

Log by Jan

Normal Bank holiday things occupied our time today as you'd expect. Martin lent me a DVD earlier in the week, so, after a long early trek with Bella, Gina and I settled down to watch it.  Martin had already seen it at the pictures and warned me it was a bit scary and had it's fair share of violence.  After the last DVD (Kung fu Hustle), which I didn't rate, I wasn't expecting to like it much, however, it was very gripping, full of suspense and had me guessing all the way to the end.  Nice One.  Jack made an 'ebay' transaction which was close enough to collect so after Gina set off back to base we set off to Dudley. It wasn't until our return that I phoned Martin to see how he'd been today, which, as it turns out was a good thing because he'd been asleep all afternoon.  He is currently having trouble with his mobile phone and yesterday his BT handset was missing.  I was relieved when he answered the phone and told me where he'd found it.  Apparently it had slipped off his bed into a shoe and hidden there while the battery went flat and wasn't discovered until Martin observed some loose change taking the same route.  I suggested a trip to the swimming pool tomorrow (Monday) and he immediately welcomed the idea, so we are picking him up in the morning.

Saturday 27th August 2005

Martin joined us by invitation, here in Cheadle, for a meal this afternoon.  Gina had surprised us this morning by returning from Lincolnshire for the weekend and we thought it would be nice to have a 'full' family meal.  Lamb chops seem to go down particularly well and are to everyone's liking, so that's what we had.  Martin was a bit quiet and  was apparently feeling a bit 'iffy', but having said that he made a reasonable attempt at clearing his plate.  After eating we watched a bit of TV, and then I took him back home, where he can continue the search for his 'house' telephone handset - which has 'turned up missing'.  It's not responding to the paging signal either, it's Martin considered opinion that the battery may have gone flat.   It's bound to be somewhere close to hand, and maybe off somewhere to his left, where he tends to lose things due to his vision impairment.  During dinner he was telling us about the letter he received from the independent company charged with identifying his long term rehabilitation needs, and his 'get back to work' plan.  There are some goals - not that dissimilar to those set at the Haywood - that everyone would like to see Martin achieve.  They've identified a need for physio and occupational therapy and are recommending using 'private' organisations to provide these.  Martin's shoulder is giving cause for concern, as detailed yesterday, and will no doubt present 'challenges' to the therapists, but must be exercised to strengthen it (at the right rate though, since too much exercise too quickly could caused it to dislocate at the joint - a scary thought).  Let's all hope that he gets some rest tonight and feels better tomorrow.  We'll try and involve him in some activity tomorrow (Sunday) or Monday (bank holiday).  Meanwhile I note from the guestbook that there are demands being made for more of 'his story'.  I also not that A&S are back from their holidays on the Red Sea, and have managed to allocate enough time to catch up with Martin's progress logs.  Welcome back guys - no internet for how many weeks?  How long did the withdrawal symptoms last for?  Didn't everyone else in the hotel get fed up with you strumming your fingers on the tables all the time?  Have you got any fingers left?   As you can probably tell, I just can't imagine being without 'the net' for more than a couple of days.  Yes you're right, LooneyLass and Joke Man are on form, but who is 'Huh' (see guestbook)?

Friday 26th August 2005

Martin quizzed his physiotherapist this morning about his left shoulder, as he thought it felt as though it was dislocated from the joint.  This, it seems, is a problem caused by the lack of use of his arm, leading to the weakening of the ligaments and muscles that together would, normally that is, keep the shoulder properly engaged at the joint.  The only solution to this problem is exercise, and the recommendation is to do breast stroke like movements of his arm against the pressure of water in the swimming pool.  Pushing a suitably sized float down into the water is another activity that was suggested.  Both of these are easy to do whilst standing, or sitting, shoulder deep in water whilst at the pool and together should, over time, give the desired result.  Of course any other exercises of his arm will help too.  It seems that just allowing it to 'hang' there is responsible for much of the current problem.  It's a 'catch 22' sort of situation in that his arm is not mobile, yet the solution is to use it more.  At lunchtime, and as arranged earlier in the week, Jan picked him up from home and drove him to the Traveller's Rest pub at Leekbrook, where he met up with quite a few of his mates from work.  Apologies were received from some who were otherwise engaged with important business issues, but on the whole I was impressed by the 'turn out'.  Martin seemed to cope very well with the crowd, although once or twice I noted that people approached from his left and caught him out, as he hadn't seen them coming. As the first phase of his colleagues returned to work, the 'second sitting' turned up and maintained Martin's interest and enjoyment for longer.  He kept smiling throughout even though he was starting to get tired.  Once everyone had left, I headed back to work and Jan returned Martin to his house, where I think he 'flopped' for a couple of hours to rest.  He called us tonight to thank us for helping him cope with the arrangements and for 'being there'.  It's sometimes hard for people to fully accept it, but that's really part of what parents are for. 

Thursday 25th August 2005

Martin got off to a busy start this morning, filling in forms that hopefully will give rise to some special allowances that he could be entitled to.  He was to then get a visit from his 'helper' who takes him out and about doing things like crossing the road, and other spatial awareness type exercises.  However Martin got a phone call from her saying that due to an injury she'd suffered, she'd not be able to see him today - in effect she cancelled.  This left Martin with a bit of time on his plate that was unexpected - so after he'd made himself some lunch, he and Jan decided to go to the swimming pool again.  This time the pool was quieter, and according to Martin warmer, and he did quite a few exercises once he'd managed to acclimatise to the temperature of the water.  But although things didn't seem to go too badly they decided, after a while, to try the Jacuzzi - but this was apparently too hot and Martin couldn't put up with it for very long, so they called it a day and headed for home.  When Martin was dropped off at Wetley Rocks he'd still not fully recovered from his 'cold and hot' flushes but is looking forward to his lunchtime session tomorrow (Friday) with some of his mates at the Travellers Rest public house (Leekbrook).  Jan's picking him up and taking him there for 12 midday, anyone that can make it will be most welcome.  I note from the Guestbook there's an increasing demand for the rest of 'Martin's Story' - people are getting impatient and have begun putting into words their anticipation of the final (?) chapter(s). 
 

Wednesday 24th August 2005

Log by Jan

As planned I set off to collect Martin for our swimming expedition, first making sure that everything possible was out reach from our mischievous Bella. That's what I thought anyway but I'll come back to that later.  Martin was ready and waiting at 10am and so we set off with no delay. I was a little apprehensive and hoping that this first swimming session would go well. The pool was rather busier than we'd expected but not to worry the water was warm enough once acclimatised and he had no trouble with the steps into the water. The disappointing element was that the floor sloped inward to the deepest part (1.5m) in the centre of the pool. When standing by the wall the water barely reached Martin's rib cage and to do the recommended arm exercises he needs the water up to his shoulders. If the bottom had been level he could have bent his knees with his back against the wall and practised some swimming strokes but because of the slope his feet kept skidding away.  He bravely tried swimming forward doing a one armed breast stroke but his knees grazed the bottom and I suggested he swim on his back which he promptly tried and for one terrifying moment I thought he was going to hit his head on the side behind him, but he calmly rose up and asked me why I was screaming. Our next stop was the cinema but there was nothing that we particularly wanted to see so we went to Pizza hut for some lunch and having just got dried from swimming we got soaked in the rain just crossing the car park. The Pizza was tremendous and Martin left a clean plated I am delighted to say.  I returned him home and am quite sure that we will be venturing to the Moat House pool again soon. In spite of my safety measures Bella had found various things including a packet of Stanley knife blades, a tube of glue and a pot of nuts, bolts and screws which she liberally distributed around the kitchen. I sent her into the garden while I cleaned up and she dug the biggest hole to date. Growl snarl growl - and that's only me!

Tuesday 23rd August 2005

Jan was running a 'tombola' stall at a charity event that was held at Tittesworth Reservoir today.  I took the day off work so that I could 'baby-sit' the dog (Bella).   I decided to do something productive, like tidy my computer room, although before everyone who knows me rushes out to get the shovels in (because my planned action is so unlikely - like snow in August would be), be advised that I didn't really make a great impression and the place still looks like a tip.  I promised to make sure that Martin was 'ready' for his project leader who was visiting him from the Haywood - a kind of follow up to check on his progress and general well being.  I sent Martin a text and a little later he phoned me to say he was ready for the visit.  We also talked a bit about other things too.   Like he's decided that he's going to have a lunchtime session at the local ('The Travellers') on Friday (26th August) and hoping that some of his colleagues from work will come along too.  He's already spoken to his 'contact' who is setting the 'machinery' in motion to make it happen.  After his visitor had left, which was getting on into late afternoon, Martin called again to let us know how it went.  Jan spoke to him this time, as she'd just got in, and after quite a long chat she asked if Martin would like to come round for tea - and that if so she might call and get a take away.  Martin jumped at the invitation and spent the evening with us, Jan returning him to Wetley Rocks at about 9 pm.  He was in good humour, and not as tired as yesterday, but still a bit wobbly - more so than usual.   He's trying to find an acceptable dosage of his sleeping pills that doesn't leave him like a zombie all the next day.  Last night he chose not to take one of the tablets and he said the night was 'a long one' - he was awake until at least 5 am.  If he's up to it, Jan and he will be going swimming tomorrow - this is seen by most as a good therapy, one that should exercise him and his muscles, which must be no bad thing.   I note from the statistics, see previous logs (Sunday 21st August) that people are checking up on Martin from some far off places -Turkey, Azerbaijan, Jordan and China.  Hello to you all, and thanks for visiting us - we appreciate it.

Monday 22nd August 2005

Tonight's log by Jan

There is in life, it seems, always a price to pay - Martin is at last getting regular sleep at night, but the effects of the tablets are slow to wear off and leave him with his senses dulled and his legs week and wobbly.  Today he had a midday appointment with his Occupational Therapist for another trial run to Britannia on the bus.  I arrived at his house just in time for the de-brief.  He'd managed the bus part satisfactorily but he had difficulty walking through the underpass and crossing the road.  All in all he was far better a fortnight ago than he was today.  This afternoon I was taking him swimming but the OTs advised him to rest first.  He hadn't eaten so we went to Festival Park to have lunch before going on to the Moat house swimming pool. We each had a big fat juicy burger at 'Fatty Arbuckles' then, wisely I think, decided that today was not a good day to venture into new territory. We shall try again on Wednesday.  I dropped him home again and prepared myself for the havoc Bella may have reeked while I was out.  She'd already pinched and eaten a large tub of 'Flora' this morning, apparently dessert this afternoon was a cardboard box and a roll of paper towel.  Jack had got home first (!!) so I was greeted by a very sheepish looking dog who refused to come out of her 'sanctuary corner' in the back yard. 

Sunday 21st August 2005

There are only two sentences tonight in this log, this being the first and obviously containing nothing indicative of Martin's condition.  Here in the second sentence though, it is my pleasure to report that Martin phoned Jan today and told us that, after having some really meaningful sleep, he 'feels much, much better' (his words) - hurrah!
 

  Num ISP City Region Country Name  
  385 Britannia-building-society - - United Kingdom United Kingdom
  121 Easynet - - United Kingdom United Kingdom
  75 Ntl Infrastructure - Baguley Stoke On Trent England United Kingdom United Kingdom
  66 Energis Uk London England United Kingdom United Kingdom
  60 Provider Local Registry - - United Kingdom United Kingdom
  39 Aol-eu Brooklyn New York United States United States
  34 Opal Telecom Dsl Network Warrington England United Kingdom United Kingdom
  33 Freeuk Adsl Dynamic Pool Manchester England United Kingdom United Kingdom
  30 Manor_bakeries - - United Kingdom United Kingdom
  24 Residential Adsl - Manx Telecom Douglas Man, Isle Of United Kingdom United Kingdom
  18 Dynamic Consumer Dsl Customers Baku Abseron Azerbaijan Azerbaijan
  15 Cisco Systems Inc Fremont California United States United States
  15 Telewest Dialup Platform Slough England United Kingdom United Kingdom
  15 Ntl Infrastructure - Manchester Vn - - United Kingdom United Kingdom
  14 Atos Origin - - United Kingdom United Kingdom
  14 Bt-central-plus - - United Kingdom United Kingdom
  13 Taylor Nelson Sofres Plc Basildon England United Kingdom United Kingdom
  11 Ntl - - United Kingdom United Kingdom
  10 Ntli Grimsby England United Kingdom United Kingdom
  10 Ntl Baguley - Cable Headend Stoke On Trent England United Kingdom United Kingdom
  9 Routed Connection London England United Kingdom United Kingdom
  7 Stuart-wright London England United Kingdom United Kingdom
  7 Ntl Infrastructure - Norwich - - United Kingdom United Kingdom
  6 Hoare Govett Services London England United Kingdom United Kingdom
  6 North Staffordshire Hospital Nhs Trust - - United Kingdom United Kingdom
  6 Virgin Adsl Broadband - - United Kingdom United Kingdom
  5 Comcast Cable Communications Hayward California United States United States
  5 Ntl Infrastructure For Virgin - Guildford London England United Kingdom United Kingdom
  4 Ntl Standalone Cm - Baguley Runcorn England United Kingdom United Kingdom
  4 Scansafe Ltd Leeds England United Kingdom United Kingdom
  3 Energis Uk Dsl Customers Birmingham England United Kingdom United Kingdom
  3 Ip Tunnelling To Nas For 0808 Dialup Pools Sheffield England United Kingdom United Kingdom
  3 X-stream - - United Kingdom United Kingdom
  2 Ntl Infrastructure For Virgin - Birmingham - - United Kingdom United Kingdom
  2 Turk Telekom Ras Test Network Istanbul Istanbul Turkey Turkey
  2 Chinanet Guangdong Province Network - - China China
  1 Local Internet Provider Registry - - Jordan Jordan


Saturday 20th August 2005

Today we went to Ikea  - the original log was quite comprehensive but has been stupidly lost (my fault!!).  As well as spending a couple of hours winding our way through Ikea, we called at a Hotel and joined up (Jan and Martin) to use the leisure facilities.  Hopefully in the select location of a first class hotel, the swimming will be safe and enjoyable.  The access to the pool is via steps with a centre handrail - excellent for Martin as he can hold on with his right hand going in and coming out.  The Ikea trip was very tiring but Martin got what he went there for.  We had a meal on the way home at a 'Brewers Fayre' restaurant just off the Ikea estate.  Martin tucked in to a shoulder of lamb (obviously his favourite) and with a little help from Jan (in the carving department) made all but the bone disappear.

Friday 19th August 2005

Log by Jan

A short report tonight as I have only had a brief chat with Martin on the phone.  My car being out of commission I have not been over to Wetley Rocks today. The good news is that he managed a partial nights sleep with the help of the new medication he got yesterday.  I understand that the tablets didn't kick in till 5am and then he slept through the alarm which was set to alert him to be ready for the physio arriving at 10am. Her persistent knocking finally woke him at 10.15.  My own adventure today was to collect Jack's prescription from the Doctors and take it to the chemist. As I mentioned I am without my (formally) trusty motor so I cycled.  It's been a while but never before have I run over my own foot, it must have looked like something from a cartoon as I tottered about trying to regain my equilibrium and when I looked round a fellow cyclist had witnessed the whole thing and nearly fallen off his bike laughing at me. Fortunately the only injury was to my dignity and I only suffered embarrassment.

Thursday 18th August 2005

Today's log by Jan

This was a three miracle day. On Tuesday driving to Hayward Hospital with Martin for his appointment I hit a curb, later inspection showed terminal tyre damage so accordingly, at great expense, I had a new one fitted yesterday. This morning I arrived at Martin's house to pick him up for an appointment with his GP and noticed a trail of what turned out to be hydraulic fluid, a quick look under the car confirmed a steady stream of the green stuff. This is not good news. I set off with Martin back to Cheadle hoping to get there before brakes and steering were compromised. About half way the STOP flashed on the dash and in a Citroen BX that is not to be ignored. I coasted most of the rest of the way back home. As luck would have it Jack went to Bristol on the train today so I swapped my car for his, miraculously remembering the key-code (first miracle ) and got Martin to the Doctors almost on time. Phew! The afternoon plan was to assist Martin with the construction of a new bed being delivered from Argos and watch a new DVD 'Kung Fu Hustle'. As Bella had been left for a couple of hours I felt I had better return home and go back later. Bella had been up to her tricks chewed and choked on a plastic sieve and among other things was sick on the floor. I went back to Martin's at 6pm and discovered to my utter amazement that Martin had single handedly (he has no other choice) assembled a good deal of the bed (second miracle ). He was exhausted so we put on the DVD so he could rest a little and then we'd planned to finish building the bed. At 8pm I rang home to see if Jack was back, no reply, 8.15 no reply, same at 8.30, 9.00 and 9.15 then I rang his mobile and yes, he was home, in the garden. No house key and no idea where I was. I naturedly wasted no time getting home to let Jack in and found him good humoured taking the whole hour and a half on the door step very calmly indeed. Bella had been left alone for another three hours by now and I expected bad things but no, everything was fine (third miracle). The tablets Martin got from the doc this morning are to help him get a nights sleep and if that works it really will be a miracle. Let's hope so. As for the film, definitely not my 'cup of tea', I'd rate it lower than a snakes belly.
 

Wednesday 17th August 2005

Martin has been trying to catch up today, following his rather tiring day yesterday.  It must be said that it's not so easy for him to recharge his batteries because proper sleep generally eludes him.  He had to stay up and about today as he was expecting his OT to pop in and see him, although he didn't know when.  In the event the visit failed to materialise, so on reflection he could have stayed in bed and pretended to sleep for most of the day.  I'd arranged to call in on my way home this afternoon to wire up a 'remote' dimmer switch that he'd bought (with more than a nod of approval from me), only to find that once connected up, it wouldn't work.  After a couple of 'double checks' of the wiring and even the infamous 'two taps' treatment it was a case of RTFM (read the flippin' manual) which documented, in not so large characters, that this device wouldn't work with a toroidal transformer as a load - which, guess what we had, yep - one of those. Doh!  So all was not lost - at least I could replace the original switch plate and then replace the blown bulbs - no, that was not to be either because we'd bought 50 watt bulbs and the label said 20 watts maximum - Doh again!!   So I'll try and return the 50 watt bulbs and exchange them for the 20 watt variety - and as for the dimmer, well I think we'll have to look out for a 'direct off the mains' light unit (definitely not through a toroidal transformer that is).  Martin managed to keep a reasonable sense of humour throughout this mini series of failures.  I am feeling guilty because I advised that 'they'd be alright' and they weren't.  I'm also feeling guilty because when I eventually got home Jan said 'did you bring Martin?'  I wasn't aware this was an option that had been aired earlier by Jan, otherwise I'd have asked him myself before I left for home.  Martin's to see the doctor tomorrow (his GP) where we hope he'll get something to help with his sleep and his pain.

Tuesday 16th August 2005

As hinted, in yesterday's log, today was a rather busy one for Martin.  He started the day with an appointment with his psychologist at the Haywood.  Jan's taxi picked him up and transported him there in good time.  After his meeting they took some time to visit Martin's friend Martin, with whom he'd struck up a friendship with whilst an 'in-mate' there, and also said 'hi' to the staff.  Everyone there seemed to be pleased to see him and his friend Martin is continuing to make good progress.  After all this excitement it was time to head for home and Jan drove him back and dropped him off  in Wetley Rocks.  The afternoon was to be busy too with a couple of visits planned, from the 're-enablement' team.  Jan and I had already decided to go for a special Tuesday meal at the 'Salt Box' (just of the A50), immediately after work, and asked Martin if he'd like to tag along.  I think Jan must have caught him at a hungry moment, because he accepted.  I had to drop by on my way home from work to pick him, then to collect Jan from Cheadle, then off down the A50 and to the Salt Box.  Martin elected for an 'all day breakfast' (which surprised both Jan and I), and indeed did it justice - only requiring the minimum of assistance to reduce the bacon rashers down to a more manageable size.  He was telling us that he needed a couple of electrical items for the house, so on the way back up the A50 I suggested B&Q and once again to my surprise he said he was up for it.  So we called at the DIY shop and headed for the electrical shelves.  We typically couldn't see what we wanted to start with so I went and 'collared' one of the staff, who was very helpful and although the electrical area 'wasn't his department' quickly found the item that had been eluding us.  Martin was getting quite a bit wobbly, and his headache was really giving him a hard time by then, so much so that Jan thought he was going to fall backwards on a couple of occasions - but he didn't.  I suggested we should just go now as we'd located what we came for -  but Martin said he'd just like to go and have a look at the power tools section, specifically at the 'Dremmel' attachments.  After doing that and comparing prices of one or two attachment kits, it was obvious that Martin was very likely to fall down soon if we didn't get him back to the car and home.   On the way home he announced that I was to stop at a bank, so that he could draw out some cash and pay me back for something I'd recently purchased on his behalf.  I have to say that although he was obviously in much pain for a great deal of the afternoon, he tried very hard and mostly successfully, to maintain a up beat and positive approach in all we did.  Well done Martin.  He says he's going to stick a 'do not disturb' notice on his door and try and get some rest.  I do hope he remembers that he's got some more appointments to honour tomorrow. 

Monday 15th August 2005

Martin has been a bit better today than he was yesterday and has been in near constant touch with his P.A. (Jan) to make sure that he knows about all this weeks appointments and that none of them clash.  Those that did overlap required his P.A. to contact the people concerned and cancel, or make alternative arrangements.  Some tremendous unexpected news today came in an email from a colleague at work who'd a couple of Wembley Tour tickets, and as circumstances dictated that he couldn't use them himself, he decided to auction them off on e-bay and deposit the proceeds into Martin's fund.  The email was to inform me that this had all happened and that the funds had been transferred.  I was 'flabbergasted' - but not to the point that I couldn't thank him personally for his wonderful gesture, nor to do so publicly here.  Thanks Brian, and may your own problems get better soon.  I sent a copy of the email that I received to Martin and no doubt he'll be personally replying to Brian regarding this matter.  Jan did a cracking job of the log last night, I was stomping about the house in a bit of a mood, having had my tea devoured - before I'd even seen it I might add.  Anyway the replacement sandwiches were absolutely splendid, and the dog remained in exile for the remainder of the evening.  She (Bella - that is) is not too sure whether to approach me or not, and when she thinks she might try it her legs seem to retract and she gets closer to the ground the nearer she gets to me.  I've just noticed that she's been doing a bit of gardening whilst I've been typing  -it'll be Jan's turn to shout a her tonight I guess.  One of the things Martin fancies is going to a swimming pool, as he feels that this might be good therapy for his arm/shoulder, something that the physio-therapists have also recommended.  So whilst out and about, and specifically yesterday when we visited Fenton Manor leisure centre, we're checking out the swimming pools to see if they're suitable for him.  The 'ideal' pool is one that has either walk down stairs, rather than a ladder (which we're sure Martin would find extremely difficult), or has a gentle 'beach' like slope.  If anyone's got any recommendations - let's have them please.

Sunday 14th August 2005

Log by Jan

We went  to the Computer fair at Fenton Manor today as intended.  Martin was ready and waiting to be picked up from his house at 09.45 - quite early for a Sunday morning.  His nights sleep was yet again 'a nights awake', so to speak, and as is often the case sleep finally came just when it was time to get up. The computer fair was poorly attended by both sellers and buyers which made it reasonably easy for Martin to get around without stepping on too many others. In fact I think the count was only one. His quest was to find a special type of cooling fan for his mighty machine but none suitable could be found and pretty soon he was ready to find a quiet spot to sit down. Jack and my brother had a number of items in mind and had an extended browse of all that was on offer, and did a considerable amount of comparing prices and specs to make sure they got the best deal.  Events like this are not held in the IOM so Pete (bro) was impressed by the prices and snapped up several bargains including a microphone so that we will be able to use *Skype to make phone calls to each other at no charge.  Jack bumped in to a colleague who asked after Martin and was pleased to hear about his progress.  We had intended to eat before taking Martin to his home but he was fighting off fatigue and preferred to return home for some rest. We reluctantly dropped him off and wound our way to the Black Lion at Consall for a spot of lunch. At home Pete donned his leathers, fired up the 1100cc monster bike and headed off for the ferry.  Jack spent the afternoon wrestling with the satellite dish with limited success. A chatty Martin rang this evening and we discussed the coming weeks appointments.  The rest had obviously done him good as he was cheerful and enthusiastic about the coming week. 'Bella' ate Jack's sandwiches, which I'd prepared and left on the table for him.  When he came in, the plate was clean.  Bella has been banished to the back garden all evening, and it's pitch black out there now. I'll let her in when Jacks gone to bed.  The day ended with a successful conversation via the aforementioned *Skype with my bro who was, by then, safely back in the IOM.   

*http://www.skype.com/

Saturday 13th August 2005

As stated yesterday, Jan's brother from the Isle of Man, came to stay with us for the weekend.  He travelled on the ferry, then on his motorcycle and arrived just before lunch (or is that dinner).  Martin was 'keyed up' to come along, which he did - well actually someone had to fetch him (Jan).  Peter (from the IOM) tagged along and got the guided tour of Martin's house.  Dinner went well, thanks Jan, and Martin was in good form, ate well and generally had a good time.  He told Peter lots of stories and they discussed at length various topics from Sky TV to mobile phones.  Afterwards when Martin was starting to feel a bit tired, Jan and Peter took him home again - Peter tagging along again because Martin wanted to demonstrated a couple of things that had come up in conversation earlier - those being the 'tablet' PC and 'earth.google'.  Martin has a very fast broadband connection and his 'monster PC' outperforms mine in every aspect except 'lightness' (as in easy to carry), so this was the machine to demonstrate the fantastic 'earth.google' program.  For those not familiar with this software imagine looking down on Piccadilly Circus and being able to move around London by panning and zooming from the controls.  That sounds impressive but only really scratches the surface.  Now lets enter San Francisco (or better still Alameda - just across the bay from the big city) and watch as we 'fly' up into outer space, circumnavigate the Earth and drop back to a few thousand feet above our selected target.  Now lets find the name of the road we want in Alameda - so we enter it 'Mxxxxxxx Drive' (we don't want too many people dropping by, do we) and there it is - we can make out individual houses, the traffic on the roads and cars in the drive.  Hi Jim, we waved at you whilst hovering over your house, but we didn't see you waving back. Anyway I think that Peter was well impressed with what Martin showed him.  We're all off to a computer fair at Fenton Manor tomorrow, Martin included.  NO doubt we'll bump into people we both know from work.  Did I tell you all that the new guestbook is active - there's some good news already been posted in there by Billy (the firefighter) as well as some 'interesting' funnies from 'Sheila' in Blackpool.  There are several demands for more of Martin's story too.  Why don't you write a few words of encouragement to Martin in his guestbook.   

Friday 12th August 2005

Martin was out and about again today - he did 'crossing the road' practice and took advantage of being on 'the other side' and had a walk around the relatively new Somerfield store at the Wetley Rocks filling station.  He found the range of stock interesting and can maybe foresee the need to wander down there if he runs short of anything.  Mind you it's still quite a long way for him to go, almost an expedition.   He also had an interesting hour or two on the phone to Sky.  He'd ordered a new Sky card and it was delivered this morning.  The instructions said he had to 'insert ' the card into his satellite box and wait for a couple of hours, and if that didn't work, to call this number.  Well it didn't work - surprise surprise, so Martin called the number on the covering letter and found himself in an automatic telephone system - you know the type, press '1' for payment, '2' for enquiries and '3' if you don't know what else to press. Eventually he got to speak to someone and explained he was trying to 'set-up' his Sky card to his equipment.  He got passed around again and thinks he probably went via Scotland, Ireland and eventually India.  'Please can you tell me the number on the card please' the girl asked.  Martin asked was it the same as the 9 digit number  on the covering letter?  'No, it's the 12 digit number on the card I want' she said, 'do you have the card in your hand?'. Martin replied 'No it's in the satellite receiver at the moment, as per the instructions on the covering letter, do you want me to take it out?'  'Yes' she replied 'I need the 12 digit number off the card'.   So Martin got on his hand and knees and removed the card from the slot in the Sky box.  'Right' he said 'I've got the Sky card in my hand, where's the number?'  'It's a 12 digit number on the front of your card' she said.  'But there is no 12 digit number on the card, only a 9 digit one, which is the same as on the letter' explained Martin.  'Are you sure it's a Sky card?' she said.  'Yes, it says Sky on it and it fits into my Sky box' - Martin was getting desperate now.  'Is it a Sky card? Does it say Sky credit card on it?' she asked.  At this point it was clear that there had been a total breakdown in communications.  They said their goodbyes.  Martin found another number to ring and this time, and much to his surprise a human answered.  I think he was keyed up for all that press '1', '3', '5' malarkey and nearly demanded to speak to a machine.  However he was, this time, dealt with swiftly and efficiently and his card was 'enabled' within just a few minutes.  Martin's Uncle from the Isle of Man is visiting us this weekend so Martin has been invited, and he's graciously accepted, for a meal tomorrow, Saturday. 

Thursday 11th August 2005

In the newspaper business, today would be what's known as a slow news day - the papers would be full of those stories that are kept for such occasions, such as 'Elvis is alive and running a fish and chip shop on the far side of the moon', and 'man bites dog'.  The only thing that I'm aware of is that Martin's provided services continue to get whittled down, his lunchtime hour is to be, in future, his dinner half hour.  He continues to prove his independence though much to his praise.  I've not spoken to him today, because when I got home from a busy day at the office, I did a few jobs around the house including cleaning the pond filters and feeding the fish.  After tea I got down to sorting out the new graphics card and decided the best treatment was my tried and tested 'fix anything' method (family members will understand).  I took the card out, tapped it lightly twice and replaced it in the slot.  As if by magic it burst into life and has been running for some time now without error  - he says touching wood (well -  my head!).   So little time to write this log, before the sandman comes after me - no not the one from  'Logan's Run',  I'm referring to 'sleep'.  Martin, if you're reading this - YES the graphics is working fine now - and YES 'earth.google' is amazing (I can't put it down!!).  Just one (rather nice) entry for the guestbook tonight - you'll find it below.  More entries are requested - please.  Come on - we've had a couple of moving stories on here already - why don't you guys out there write a short story telling your perspective of the last 5 months. Email it in and we'll publish it.  A prize is on offer for every story published.

Wednesday 10th August 2005

It seems Martin has had a busy and fairly productive day today, and not one without a number of challenges (or opportunities).  The day started with an early rise, to be up when an expected delivery arrived.  This was a small fridge, which did arrive on time and immediately became the next challenge.  Martin had ordered this cooler to keep his Cherry Coke,  Dr Pepper and such like cool, where he spends most of his time - upstairs, where his computer is.  His new challenge was to transfer the fridge from doorstep to first floor, up his narrow and steep steps.  He managed to fashion from the wrapping material a 'natty' carrying handle that allowed him to elevate the 'package' one step at a time - in this way he could control his balance, and at the same time not drop the fridge.  Well, of course, he managed it and has now stocked his 'mini bar' with a supply of the aforementioned drinks that formed part of a recent 'Tesco' (home delivery) order.  Later his occupational therapist took him out, on a bus ride.  Martin managed the boarding of the bus very well, and was even 'smart' enough to correct the driver, who asked for £1.80.  Martin said "When did the price go up?".  The driver checked his table and said "Sorry that's £1.60".  Martin paid the going rate cheerfully.  They went to Leek, got off at Britannia and they crossed the road using the underpass, where they met up with their prearranged lift back to Wetley Rocks.  There was also some real 'crossing the road' practice, which was much more productive than the last attempt a few days ago.  It was done near to the garage where the apex of the road means you can see both ways.  It will also be handy to have practiced here if Martin has an urgent need for provisions - which can be obtained most (if not all) of the day from the store there.  When he called Jan for a chat, later in the day, he was as 'up beat' again as yesterday and during the conversation Martin revealed that there was one thing that was really troubling him.  How to scratch his right elbow, which apparently during the night was itching like mad, but he couldn't figure how to scratch it.  The usual suggestion were made - rub it on the furniture or the wall, but the best one came from Jan who said "Why not scratch it with your foot".  Martin thought this was a cracking idea and couldn't quite understand why he'd not thought of it himself.  After a short period of silence he said "I bet you can't guess what I'm doing now?"  "I bet you're scratching your elbow with your foot" said Jan.  "No" replied Martin, "I'm trying to untangle my legs after scratching my arm".  I had a quick chat with him tonight and although he's had a reasonable day during which his headaches not been quite so bad, its knocked him back a bit now, as he waits for the half of the pizza left over from lunchtime to warm up.  He said he's drinking a lot more fluids than he was - that's partly due to the readily available 'cool' drinks perhaps.   Martin's spent some time sympathising with me, because my 'new' graphics card arrived yesterday, and since then I've not managed more than about 5 minutes of 'up time' before my PC crashes - Oh Dear!!   Fortunately, like any good IT department, I've a DR box (disaster recovery) which is what I'm using to write this log tonight.   As we all know the chances of two machines breaking down at the same time are astronomical - except at work when 6 out of 8 servers all blue screened the other day within a few minutes of each other (one of life's great mysteries!).   I'm not going to mention my paranoia tonight - regular readers will know what that is.  Sorry no new emails to publish tonight!  No-one's sent one!!

Tuesday 9th August 2005

Another long day for Martin with little, if any sleep.  Every now and then he gets 'smitten' and grabs forty winks - but it's not what you'd call quality sleep, by any stretch of the imagination.  He apparently gave lunch a miss, but did have a more meaningful meal of chicken later in the day.  I suppose we Mums and Dads would normally be fussing around and recommending three proper meals each day to build up his strength - but in Martin's case this would make him more determined not to - so we've learnt to keep quiet (like the war time poster - 'Be like dad, keep Mum').   Anyway we've both had a rather pleasant chat to him this evening - that's not to say he's particularly well you understand, its just that the conversation was not so terse - like it has sometimes been of late.  It can't be easy for Martin to drag himself through the pain barrier to talk nicely to people, but he's shown he can do  a reasonable job of it when he tries.  I think that his 'female' visitors from work yesterday must have bucked him up a bit, as they always do.  So let's have some more visits please.   Now I do know he sometimes reads this log, so I'll just use it as a medium to thank him publicly for the strength he's mustered over the past months and to assure him that it will all be worth it in the end.  I just wish that the guestbook was 'sorted' so we can all encourage him - can anyone actually get to it - is it just a few of us that can't, or everyone?   I'm getting a bit paranoid about it now.  Anyway below are some new entries that have come our way via the alternate email facility.... Enjoy.

Monday 8th August 2005

A couple of Martin's work colleagues visited him today and from what I hear they had a good laugh.  Gina returned from a 'hen  party' at Longleat (Centre Parks that is - not the safari park - although it sounds as though there may have been some rare animals there) and she and Jan went round to Martin's, at his request.  They met a far more 'up beat' Martin than they've seen of late.   It must be something to do with his earlier visitors, so come on 'earlier visitors' drop a guestbook entry (or use the email option) to tell us what you did to cheer him up.  He showed Jan and Gina the program 'earth.google' that featured in yesterdays log - I still can't make it work, but my new graphics card is on order!!!  I've spent most of the evening leaving bad reviews on a number of web sites with respect to the guestbook facility that we were using.  If they (the people who actually run the site) have lost a server or something similar you'd expect them to put something on their home page.  They have an email address 'ardice@ardice.com' so I suggest everyone sends them a suitably worded complaint - lets see if the power of the (electronic) pen can get some action.  I have also send some complaints to the advertisers whose offerings used to adorn each guestbook page - I'm sure that they'll be interested in the site being down.  If you want to leave a similar complaint with 'google ads' do it by clicking here (this page will return your comments about 'ardice guestbook' - simply enter a compliant in the box and your email address which is optional).  I've got the web site stats for last week, but instead of just showing the weekly stats I thought it would be interesting to see what's happening over a longer period.

I note that the highest peak (notably so) was the day the firefighters story was published, and some of the other peaks coincide with released chapters of Martin's story, leading me to the conclusion that we need some more from Martin to maintain the momentum - what does everyone else think?
 

Sunday 7th August 2005

Sounds as though Martin's not had a particularly good day today.  He's still not sleeping and this coupled with his pain result in him having a short temper.  I've been at work for most of the day - one of the joys of working for a financial institution (all the systems work has to be done outside 'normal' working hours).  Jan was a bit upset after speaking to Martin this afternoon, mainly because she was unable to help him with his then state of mind, but he phoned back a little later and tried really hard to overcome those earlier problems.  He was telling me all about a piece of software he found, at about 4am this morning, and that he thought would be (literally) up my street.  It's rather large at a 10MB download (to start with) and then, well I'm not too sure what happens next because all I see is a BSOD or my machine just freezes up.  Martin says it's great and it does sound good too.  Anyone interested the site is 'earth.google.com'  and the software allows you to 'fly' to anywhere in the world  - to street level.  Martin was particularly impressed with the ferry that was just leaving Calais harbour.  I shall have to get a more compliant (up to date) graphics card before I can expect to use this software.  Not much else to report other than Bella's got an upset tummy - Jan's outside hosing the yard down!  The campaign continues to install some road signs (or similar) on 'that' stretch of road - I'll keep you informed.  Need sleep - so I'm off to bed now.  Night all!! 

Saturday 6th August 2005

Another day of silent separation, punctuated this evening by a lengthy phone-call between Martin and Jan.  Martin's 'ex' came up from London to see him - she arrived yesterday evening.  As she was staying until today (Saturday) Martin offered her his bed, not just because it was the chivalrous thing to do, but because he knew that he wouldn't get any sleep if he was to use it.  Instead he did all the stuff he normally does each night, when  the rest of us are sleeping - computer game for a bit, DVD for a bit, try and read for a bit, etc.  He hasn't got into a pattern of sleep, wake, sleep, like the rest of us - his seems to be wake, wake, wake and sleep only catches up with him every now and then.  Of course he still has head-aches pretty much most of the time - which result in him having two states of mind - angry and very angry.  Sometimes he manages to suppress his anger - at least on the outside, but at other times it can't help but make it to the surface, for all to see.  Martin was explaining in detail his 'crossing the road' exercise yesterday.  It's impossible to contemplate crossing just outside his house, the trouble is that by walking left or right and carrying on until you can see enough of the road both ways, you've introduced more roads to cross, or tricky paths, into the equation.  While they were waiting to cross, one or two people recognised Martin and stopped to offer him a lift - 'could you give me a lift to the other side of the road please' - 'I think not'.   Martin's master plan to use the 'lolly-pop' lady, at school times,  to get across the road  is about the best idea so far.  Jan was going to be going to Martin's tomorrow (Sunday) to watch a DVD - I'm unfortunately working most of the day so can't plan anything else - but she's developed this really nasty cough and she doesn't want to be 'barking' all over Martin all day.  Having said that we've seen him coughing in a way that you'd not wish to see anyone coughing - via a suction tube lowered through his trachea - not pleasant.  I saw someone from the MIU today in B&Q's, where I'd gone for some DIY stuff.  It was a fellow MIU patient (D) and his wife (H), and they recognised me straight away.  They were asking of Martin and saying how they'd read the recent newspaper article - which they found to be very good.  'D's made a marvellous recovery, although he remembers nothing of those bleak days in hospital, and 'H' is just thrilled to have him home again  It's good to see people getting on with their lives after such harrowing experiences - may they both live long, stay healthy and above all be happy. 

Friday 5th August 2005

One of the problems we have with respecting Martin's privacy, and not visiting or pestering him throughout the day, is that when it falls for someone to write up the days events (in this log), there is little if any experiences to document.  Today is such an example.  I've been to work and come home and I know that Martin is OK because he phoned Jan this evening.  The only other 'snippet' of information that I've got is that his OT today decided she was going to do an exercise called 'crossing the road'.  Some of you will know where Martin lives and will understand the difficulties of 'crossing the road' either because you've driven through Wetley Rocks yourselves or you've read or heard about it in the media.  It's a generally dangerous place - the traffic is pretty much relentless, and even though a string of speed cameras now festoon that stretch, crossing the road is extremely difficult even for the fittest of us.  I think the conclusion that was reached is that the only safe way to get Martin across that road is to sneak back in the dead of night and install a panda crossing from just outside his front door to the footpath opposite.  My thoughts yesterday, on Martin's Story and the outstanding Chapter(s) has prompted a few people to email me (and him), demanding that Martin produces more and soon.  What do you think?  I'll stick one or two of the messages at the end of this log (pending the restoration of the guestbook).  Meanwhile why not send him an email or give him a bell (mobile).  I shall refrain from publishing his mobile number here, but lots of you will know it anyway.

Thursday 4th August 2005

Today is my brother's birthday and although we don't get on that well (brotherly love and all that) we do send each other cards for birthdays and for Christmas.  Soon after Martin's accident, which happened 5 months ago on the 4th March, I contacted my brother and asked him to protect our Mum (Martin's grandma) from the full facts, as I wasn't sure that she'd be able to cope with all that uncertainty in those early days.  Of course once Martin's condition began to improve I 'filled her in' with all the details, which did upset her for a short while but she was able to focus on his recovery and gain some comfort from it.  I never really got chance to properly thank Eamonn for shouldering the responsibility of keeping this terrible secret from 'grandma', until I was able to write just a few words of thanks on his birthday card.  He, being an ex policeman, is no stranger to accidents of this magnitude, and has seen many casualties not so fortunate as Martin resulting from them.   So not only have I thanked him directly and privately via his birthday card, but I've done so publicly thanks to this log.  Thanks Eamonn. 

Martin has been checked out today by some independent medical examiners who will prepare a report as to his short term needs and likely long term requirements.  This report has been commissioned by the driver's insurance company.  It is, of course, in their interests to understand what effect the accident had upon Martin and how best they can help him to cope with those changes. 

After work I called and plugged his Sky Box in and wired it all up.  I left him with a handful of remote controls and a simple task (not) - get everything properly set up and communicating with each other.  I did manage to offer some advice by SMS text, after getting home and speaking to Gina, who'd done her own sky box recently and had to integrate it with similar hardware to Martin's.  It seems that this snippet of information was invaluable and Martin sent a couple of texts later, one to say he was making progress, and the other to say he'd 'cracked' it.  This means he'll be able to spend even more time sat in front of the TV now - which means he'll spend less time in front of his PC - or will he?  I wonder which technology will win through in the end (answers on a post card - or a guestbook).  

It looks as though the demand for his next 'chapter' has waned, and this has effected his motivation.  We'll have to wait and see if he manages to finish 'Martin's Story' or not.

Wednesday 3rd August 2005

As mentioned yesterday, today was Martin's last 'shower with a stranger' so he'll be on his own from here on in.  Today the local newspaper 'Your Leek Paper' featured Martin's visit to the fire station last Friday and put into print many of the  things that had been said there.  If you want to have a sneak peek at the article, you're in luck because the 'Your Leek Paper' is published on the internet.  So to have a look, go to the following URL and then select page 9 from the links at the top.

http://www.leekonline.co.uk/media/leekpaper/index.htm

The reporter has done a good job in capturing the spirit of the conversation between us all at the fire station.  Unfortunately Martin is referred to as Mark on the picture - but to be fair that is the only mistake in the piece.  Better that than some misinterpretation of some other point that was made.  I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the photographer (Tony Smith) and reporter (Joel Shenton) from 'Your Leek Paper' for sitting through the proceedings and handling the questioning of Martin both sensibly and sensitively.  Thanks also to the fire fighters of Leek who helped make all this possible - not specifically on Friday,  but also on that dark, cold, wet night in early March.

You'll probably also notice on page 1 of the paper that there was another serious accident, over the weekend, literally 20 yards from the scene of Martin's crash.  As the paper goes on to say, there have been three very serious accidents on a very short stretch of the A520 in the last 5 months.  There's also been more than a couple of less serious crashes there too!!  By 'short stretch' we are talking no more than 50 yards.  The firefighters of Leek are hoping to get some measures put in place, especially at that location, to make people think twice about their driving.  Be it speed, lack of concentration, or whatever, they're hoping that something can be done to make us all think twice about our own safety, and indeed the safety of those in our charge!!  

Martin paid a visit to work today to deal with some paperwork that is necessary because of his extended sick leave.  You'll see one of the staff has sent him an email (in lieu of a guestbook entry), by looking at the bottom of today's log.  It is obvious that she was delighted to see Martin back in the workplace - even though he was only there for an hour or two.  We're all hoping that he'll be able to get back to work, for real, sooner rather than later.  He still has to have his skull flap replaced - which is likely to be done sometime in September.  Then there'll be another period of recovery I suspect.

Tuesday 2nd August 2005

Good news today (I think) is that a decision has been made that after tomorrow (Wednesday), there'll be no more 'shower with a stranger' sessions.   This means that Martin will be able to shower as early as he likes on subsequent mornings, without having to wait for his watcher to oversee him.  He'll still gets his 'dinner lady' who comes along between 12 and 1, but that is likely to stop soon.  It's a similar story with his occupational, and physio therapy, in that these are likely to continue for a short while before being 'pulled' at which point Martin will be 'on his own'.  I know he's going to be at work, attending a meeting with his bosses tomorrow afternoon (Wednesday).  Jan's taxi is bringing him along, and Dad's taxi will be taking him home afterwards.  My neighbour brought a copy of Monday's Sentinel (newspaper) around tonight to show me that another serious RTC (road traffic crash) had occurred less than 20 yards from the scene of Martin's.   The paper goes on to describe again the circumstances of Martin's incident and points out that there have been five serious RTC's on that short stretch of road in just five months.  Makes you think!!  Someone at work suggested that maybe they should declare it an official 'accident black spot' - maybe people would drive with more care - who knows.  If anyone else wants to write anything (so long as its generally related to the main theme) that can be published in these logs then write away - just send me the copy and I'll make sure it gets in here - rather like the 'firefighters story' (below).    

If you haven't yet, you should read the firefighter's story by following the link from the main page or by clicking here - 'go to firefighters story'.

Monday 1st August 2005

Martin's schedule is quite a busy one and at times he has to double check with his PA (Jan) to make sure that he's not double booked at any specific time (this must surely make him management material).  This morning he had his 'shower with a stranger' appointment (you'll have to get him to explain that to you), which was followed at lunchtime with his 'can cook - will cook' session, which is again monitored by the 'powers that be', to make sure that he's safely adapting to looking after himself.   His lunchtime meeting with friends from work was put on 'hold' for a short while to clear the house of those mentioned above.  Martin showed two of his colleagues around his house and kept them amused for an hour or so by introducing them to his gadgets, his DVD collection and discussing work related 'stuff'.  I saw one of them later and she said she found Martin to be 'in good form' and that his house was very nice - although she couldn't bring herself to share Martin's fascination towards his resident 'tunnel web spiders' (not the dangerous ones - but a domesticated equivalent).  I spoke to Martin this afternoon and it seems that he's moved his computer about on his desk, as you'd probably expect - well I just made, what you might call, an (un)educated guess where it all should go.  Full marks for this effort thought, because it must have been quite hard for Martin to do this on his own - nearly as hard, it seems, as getting into a tin can; Martin says it's blooming impossible to open a tin with one hand.  We're going to look out for an 'electric' can opener - I have an inkling that one of these might just be the answer.  I think that Martin has some more of his (much in demand) story 'on the drawing board' (I'm not sure if it's made it onto file yet), but we are all eagerly awaiting the next chapter. 

Here's the weekly statistics:-
 

  Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun Total Avg
Pageloads 350 277 266 260 249 227 215 1,844 263
Unique Visitors 113 66 77 83 86 54 54 533 76
First Time Visitors 35 10 25 32 40 23 25 190 27
Returning Visitors 78 56 52 51 46 31 29 343 49


Sunday 31st July 2005

Martin's computer has now been returned to his house.  I did it this afternoon whilst he and Jan were at the cinema (I nearly said at the pictures - how un-cool is that).  He invited her along during conversation yesterday, and as picture-houses are not my scene, I decided to go to his house and finish off what I started yesterday.  The computer, is very heavy, and my back was still a bit sore from yesterday, but I was able to lift it a step at a time, and avoid twisting and turning, so I think I've avoided aggravating my back - hopefully that is.  Seems that there was a huge queue at the Warner Village (in Newcastle) when they got there, and projected waiting time took them past the film start time, so they decided to go to Festival Park instead - where they got straight in - no problem, with time to spare before the start.  Of course the seats aren't as comfy at Festival Park, but you can't have everything.  Martin wanted to visit Currys afterwards to price up a sky box - he just wants to buy a box as he's got the dish and cable already.  Seems that is not an option open to your average retailer (as in Currys, Comet, etc) - you have  to buy a full system with fitting and commissioning service - heaps more dosh than just buying the receiver and plugging it in yourself.  Martin made it perfectly clear that he didn't want a man refitting and rewiring his existing dish - thank you very much - but they were having none of it.  Seems they were having none of Martin's money either - touché!   Whilst they were still away enjoying themselves, and once I'd finished moving big heavy boxes at Martins, I've been transcribing the notes that one of the Leek firefighters showed us on Friday, about his recollection of the night of March 4th.  It's a very powerful note that details a side of that night that we hadn't really any perception of ourselves, until we read his story.  It really does amplify the message that accidents don't just happen to the victims they affect lots and lots of people.  You can read the firefighter's story by following the link from the main page or by clicking here - 'go to fireman's story'.   Martin is entertaining friends from work tomorrow lunch time (Monday), something that he arranged with them last week.  Let's hope this is a success - he will be working on his own and making something appropriate.  I understand that the suggestion of a candle lit dinner has been fed back to him - he says he can do candles, no problem - but dinner, that's another story.

Saturday 30th July 2005 (actually it's Sunday already)

After our busy day yesterday (Friday), I'd arranged with Martin that Jan and I would call around about 11-ish to shift some furniture around to facilitate the return of his computer ('gargantuan 5') from it's temporary location at our house.  This shifting was to involve the removal of one of his desks (substantial draughtsman workstations) and the repositioning of the second one.  These desks are exceedingly heavy!!  Anyway one of them was quickly dismantled and moved to the side whilst the floor area was cleared to facilitate the big move of the second desk.  This was eventually redeployed as specified after much heaving, twisting, grunting and sweating.  Then we had to get the dismantled one down the stairs.  This was the most difficult exercise of the lot.  Martin, of course, knew that the desk would fit as he'd taken both of them upstairs when he moved in, but manoeuvring a 5ft X 4ft X 2inch heavy desktop around the corner on the stairs seemed at times impossible to achieve.  However, in time and with only a handful of trapped fingers, we did it.  It was about then, when I came to straighten up that my back announced that it didn't want to be straight just now, thank you very much.  It would rather remain in a twisted position.  As it was now obvious that any more 'humping and dumping' was going to be out of the question, I made my excuses to Martin, who was helping by keeping out of the way,  and headed for home taking Jan with me.  Once there it was a case of getting myself horizontal, which I did, and that's where I remained for 18 hours - I only just got up at 8 a.m. this morning.  My back is still a bit sore, but nowhere near as bad as it was yesterday.  So sometime later, when we're sure he'll be up, we'll be setting off back to Martin's place, with the aforementioned gargantuan 5.  This will have to go upstairs (oh no!) but that should see an end to the lifting requirements (and maybe to me!).   Please note that Martin's Story (that's a compilation of his words and none of mine) is accessible from a link on the main web page - select  'Martin's Story'.

Friday 29th July 2005

As we enter week 22, or day 148 to be precise (not that we've been counting the days - much!) Martin gets an opportunity to thank some of those fine people, who working together with other emergency services and coordinated like some fantastic 'well oiled machine', were (I'm in no doubt) responsible for his survival from the dreadful injuries he sustained that awful night in March.  It was the firefighters of Leek, who'd asked Martin to come along to the Fire Station. They also invited members of the Leek press along as this would of course be a public interest 'story'.  They wanted Martin to give his account of how he'd been affected following the crash, and also how so many other people, including his immediate family,  fanning out to the far corners of the world, in fact literally hundreds of people had also been influenced in some way.  It's a tragic fact that in such incidents the injured party is often the only one that people generally consider as being affected.  The truth of the matter is that many lives are upset following such an event.  Jan and myself will never forget that life changing moment when the policemen knocked heavily on our door in the middle of that cold wet night on March 4th.  It was the start of what has been our own personal nightmare.  These logs have tried to convey our desperation and near constant worry, particularly in those early weeks, but most people would find it difficult to really imagine what a journey to hell and back we've all had, Martin included.  This was the reason for our meeting with the firefighters.  They, as part of their duties, have been tasked with reducing the number of road accidents in this area.   There are at least two 'accident blackspot' roads around Leek, the A520 and the A53.   They're going to try to educate the public that when accidents happen, so many more people are affected than those directly involved in the accident.  By building up case studies of accidents, like the one Martin was injured in, they hope to make us all think twice (at least twice) before taking risks with our lives, and those under our care.  We wish them every success and sincerely hope that if Martin's input to this process could save just one family (and their hundreds of friends and relations) having to suffer as we have since March, then it will have been well worth it.  After our meeting we were shown the equipment that they used that night, and some of the difficulties of Martin's rescue were revealed to us.  See pictures on the guestbook page.  One of the firefighters had written an account of that night, from his pager waking him from his sleep, to returning to his bed afterwards.  It's a fascinating read and with his permission I'll publish it in this log - in a day or two (so watch this space).   I'm also reminded that members of Leek Fire Station will be in attendance at the Leek show today (Saturday) - so get along there and have a chat with them whilst sheltering from the rain that's forecast.  Please note that Martin's Story (that's a compilation of his words and none of mine) is accessible from a link on the main web page - select 'Martin's Story'.           

Thursday 28th July 2005

At the end of Martin's first day back at his own home we sincerely hope that all is going well.  Jan called to see him this morning, he was waiting to take his shower, which he had to be supervised for.  Jan was on her way with 'Bella' to obedience classes.  'Bella' disgraced herself by leaving a non returnable deposit in the middle of the venue floor.  Oh the joys of animals.  On her way home, Jan called to check that Martin was OK (he'd had his shower) and whether the lunchtime appointment was going OK which it was, so she left him to it.  It will be a difficult time for Martin and I'm sure that he would welcome some input from his friends to keep him up to date with what's going on and where.  The 'blessed' guestbook couldn't have failed at a more inconvenient time, because he looked regularly to that facility to get feedback and support from us all.  I would urge you to use the alternate 'click here to send an email' link, if the guestbook is down when you try to use it.  Using this link will send an email to Martin's private email address (that is NOT to his work address) and a copy will be sent to me (the master plan being that I can write them into the guestbook when it returns - which it surely must?).  I have been looking at the feasibility of using a different guestbook provider, but I can't find one that would allow me to 'bulk load' the existing entries (which were forwarded to me as emails, as well as appearing in the guestbook), nor for that matter one that would allow me to 'merge' the two at some later date.   Therefore I'm going to call upon your collective skills, which you've demonstrated so convincingly in the past, to sort this out.   I want you all to really hope that the guestbook will recover, and soon.  Shouldn't be too difficult, should it. You all did it before and Martin recovered, against (I have to say) quite poor odds at times.  So lets all do it tonight and hopefully it'll be up and running tomorrow morning.   Speaking of tomorrow, Martin has a special appointment in the afternoon  He's been invited, along with me and Jan, to pay a visit to the fire station in Leek to meet some of those special people who looked after him at the scene of his accident. He's quite keen to see them, and I think that they're quite keen to see him.  So it looks as though it should be a 'win win' situation.

Wednesday 27th July 2005

Today was the day that Martin moved back into his own home.  He did it this morning and had his lunchtime 're-enablement' session, where he's observed cooking, there.  Jan's Taxi took him there and she departed after lunch leaving him to re-acquaint himself with his own things.   I called in on my way home, after work that is, to offer some assistance in a bit of furniture shifting.  I invited Martin for dinner at our house, mentioned we were having lamb (his favourite), and he graciously accepted.  The furniture shifting requires a bit of consideration so I measured everything up and we shall create to scale, some 'paper' furniture and shift it about on a piece of graph paper to see how we can best fit things in the room.  So apart from a bit of measuring up I did no 'Mr Shifter' work - hurrah.  I had to appraise Martin of some things that were happening at work that would directly effect him and to inform him that his boss would be along to see him at home soon.  Martin and I also discussed the logs (these logs) and we both thought it would be nice to have the 'previous' logs in both the current format (latest daily log first) and in a chronological order (oldest first, current at the end).  This would make it easier for people who wanted to read sections (or indeed all) of the logs, when catching up after perhaps being away.  This sounds easy but developed into a real 'labour of love' - there's a lot of text that had to be shuffled about to so achieve.  Anyway at the bottom of this page you'll find a second link to view logs in chronological order. Another feature that I shall be providing (but not today) is a link to Martin's story - which will be collection of his words extracted from the logs and presented as a book like document (watch out for this soon).    Jan has taken Martin back home now - he's decided to leave his computer here until I've got his room sorted out, but he's not completely out of touch thanks to his 'tablet' and his mobile.  He's got enough DVD's to watch - they've been falling through his letter box fairly constantly whilst he's been out of action - to keep him amused until Christmas.  So if you fancy a night in watching movies, you know who to call.   

Tuesday 26th July 2005

Today was another fairly uneventful day.  Martin got up quite late.  This meant he had to dash off via Jan's Taxi service to the hospital for an appointment, and then returned to Cheadle, which is where he was when I first saw him today on my return from work.   I don't know how the appointment went, he'll no doubt tell us in due course, what went on, or was said.  Bella has been 'mining' again, holes big enough to bury herself in it would seem.  Jan is now also considering 'mining' the garden to discourage Bella from such 'mining'.   I suppose if she was a German Shepherd or a Doberman Pinscher or even a Rottweiler the phrase 'achtung minen' might mean something to her - but she seems to have enough trouble getting to grips with English words and phrases like 'no' and 'stop' and 'come here' and 'you little bug***'.   Martin and Jan are catching up on some film or other, on DVD, whilst I'm typing away in my office.  Bella is out in the garden - I must go and check on her soon.  Martin doesn't seem to be particularly well today - he seems a bit down and suffering a bit with various pains.   It can't be very easy for him at the moment.  He's planning on moving back to his own house tomorrow, which is a big big step.   I'm not 100% sure that he should be doing this so early  - but at the same time I admire him for setting such aspirations and trying to meet them.  There's always the option of  him coming back to stay with us if things don't pan out too well to start with.   There's also a bit of work to do at his house to adapt things to make them friendlier for Martin in his current condition.   The social services have already installed the dreaded hand rails - which I'm not supposed to mention, for fear of Martin blowing a gasket about them (he didn't really want these - can you tell?).  His computer is currently here in Cheadle so I guess that will have to be relocated back to Wetley Rocks, once I've completed the body building course.  In the short term he can use the 'tablet' to keep in touch digitally.  If you can think of anything that you'd like to ask Martin about then drop an email to us (via the guestbook pages) and he'll try and answer your question ASAP. Oh! oh! I've just found the dog chewing what's left of some ceramic garden ornaments - Jan's little 'quiet secluded spot' ornamental mushrooms to be precise.  Jan is going to go ballistic - I'm going to hide in bed (I know my place) - the dog is on her own!!  Apologies to the neighbours!!

Monday 25th July 2005

I'm really quite annoyed and downright disappointed about the lack of the guestbook, particularly at the time when Martin is writing such brilliant work and needs the positive feedback to maintain his motivation.  It has of course failed before, but at that time it returned within a couple of days, and worked perfectly until recently.  Maybe it's full of She's 'funnies', or overloaded with the hundreds of entries that Martin has attracted, who knows.  I've not had any response from the site administrators, so all I can do is speculate as to why it's broken.   One or two of you have used the alternative 'email me direct' (many thanks for doing this) which sends your email to Martin directly and to me for ultimate inclusion in the guestbook,  for all to see.  Those emails that I've received have also gone to Martin, as described above, so there has been some encouragement (at least) - he's been very pleased with your positive feedback.   Today's been a bit of a non-event day, the sort of day when newspapers and news broadcasts feature those little stories that normally wouldn't actually make it into the local editions.  There's really not that much to report.  It seems today's lunchtime extravaganza was sweet-corn, which Martin demonstrated his ability to cook and then not bother eating.  I not sure that this is the best recipe to build up his strength somehow.  Never mind, I see he's tucking into a big fat juicy burger tonight, with some turkey sausages to augment that if required.  Martin has an appointment at the Haywood tomorrow (that'll be your today - if you're reading this on Tuesday).  He's to see his psycho-analyst, where they'll try and decide if he's really nuts, like he keeps on telling us he is, or just very clever.  Either way it'll give him something else to 'write up' in his own journal of events.  I don't know if there'll be any more tests, particularly word tests - if they've read his most recent logs they might be on their guard this time.  Being at the Haywood will give him, and Jan, the opportunity to drop in on friends, both staff and patients.  Some bad news that we heard yesterday was that the young woman who'd followed Martin through the hospital system and arrived at Haywood the day he left, has suffered a problem and is now back in ward 23 at NSRI.  We hope that she recovers quickly, and fully, from this latest set back.  Additionally we share our concern with and offer what support we can to her partner, who has displayed dedication 'above and beyond the call of duty', as we used to say in the armed services.  We have seen so much strength in so many people in the last 21 weeks - it makes you feel proud to be associated with them.        

Sunday 24th July 2005

OK - first of all, as usual at the weekend, here are the 'stats' for the last week.  This table shows the daily figures for page uploads, and breaks that down into unique, first time and returning visitors (see what these terms mean below).  As you can see our 'hits' increase until they peak mid week, then taper slowly off.  This has been the pattern over the weeks.   So here's the figures:-

 

    Page Loads Unique Visitors First Time Visitors Returning Visitors
Total 2,436 815 362 453
Average 305 102 45 57
 
Day Date Page Loads Unique Visitors First Time Visitors Returning Visitors
Sunday 24th July 2005 150 76 51 25
Saturday 23rd July 2005 202 84 43 41
Friday 22nd July 2005 329 103 42 61
Thursday 21st July 2005 366 126 54 72
Wednesday 20th July 2005 375 120 47 73
Tuesday 19th July 2005 407 115 43 72
Monday 18th July 2005 433 128 53 75
Sunday 17th July 2005 174 63 29 34

Returning Visitors - Based purely on a cookie, if this person is returning to your website for another visit an hour or more later.

First Time Visitors - Based purely on a cookie, if this person has no cookie then this is considered their first time at your website.

Unique Visitor - Based purely on a cookie, this is the total of the returning visitors and first time visitors - all your visitors.

Page Load - The number of times your page has been visited.

 


Martin has been working hard to complete the next chapter of his 'work' and that appears below.  It's Chapter 5 and is split into a number of sub-chapters.  He's not had a lot of time over the weekend to progress this chapter because his 'ex' girlfriend from London came to spend some time with him.  She had to catch an afternoon train to return back 'down South', and we all hope she had a safe journey.  We'd also like to thank her for coming along - I know that she and Martin are very good friends still, even though she's his 'ex' - so thank you!.   So without any more ado, lets get straight into Chapter 5 of Martin's story......

This section now removed - you can find it in Martin's Story

Saturday 23rd July 2005

I had thought, wrongly as it turns out, that when I wrote last Thursday's log I would be doing so for the last time. Yes, it's me again, Jan, Martin's Mum - Jack's first wife*.

An early morning text from Martin's former girl friend started the day to prepare us for her arrival later.  Due to the recent troubles with terrorist activity in the capital and subsequent transport upheavals, Martin advised her not to travel here today.  Undeterred she crossed London at 6.30 am successfully completing the first, of a 5 leg journey and arrived here shortly before midday.  Martin and her wished to spend the day at Wetley Rock (his house).  He is slightly reluctant to go to his house at the moment as he feels that the hand rails installed on Wednesday have desecrated his property, and fears that exposure to the mere sight of them will incite him to rip them off the wall.  I understand how he feels.  Since the accident so much of his life has been beyond his control and, naturally, he resents anything interfering with his own domain regardless if it is for his own safety or not.   Martin and Bella  (he calls her Honey) are inseparable now, she guards the door to his room and sneaks in at every opportunity, and the next thing you know she's stretched out on the duvet next to him.  This practice of jumping on the bed is strictly forbidden but it makes Martin smile - what can I say!   I just look the other way.   I picked him up from Wetley Rock around 10 pm  and was relieved to see the hand rails still attached to the walls   Common sense has prevailed at least for the time being.

*  -  Jack often introduces me as his first wife, just (he says ) to keep me on my toes.  Bless him.

Friday 22nd July 2005

Well, after my night off last night, at least from this log if not from work, I'm back in the chair for tonight's effort.  Martin has had a fairly busy day with his usual lunch time appointment, followed by some activities requiring his presence at his house, and then tonight he announced he would like to go shopping to Tesco with his Mum.  Of course they've both missed all the excitement here, because whilst they were away some hooligans 'torched' a vehicle that we noticed had been abandoned (a couple of days ago) out the back of our house.  I dialled the emergency services, and as I did so some really strange feelings came over me - I think I was imagining Martin's accident and that someone had to dial 999 then.  Thank god there was no fire back then, because this car here was totally ablaze, in next to no time). Anyway a 'chappie' took the details and said that someone else had reported it and they were on their way.   Eventually the fire tender turned up and copious amounts of water later, the fire was out.  There's nothing much left of the car - I gave them the registration number because we'd reported it a couple of nights ago to the police as abandoned - but they're not able to do much unless its been stolen or used in a crime.  It seems it has now been the subject of a crime.  Ah well at least we tried.  Speaking of trying, I've not been able to raise anybody on the site that the guestbook is hosted on - I can only assume that they've gone away, or are totally oblivious to it failing.  I've checked other services that they host and they seem to be OK - so it looks as though its just the one server that's gone down (the guestbook one).  I've sent emails and shouted really loudly, all to no avail.  If  I knew where they were located I'd send 'the boys' round to see them.  I think that Martin is holding back on his 'work' because he was expecting some feedback from what he'd done already, and is a little disappointed that there's not been much.  So I've put an email link on the guestbook page and I would ask you to use that to encourage him to finish off what he's started (I'm sure there's not much to do now).  So what do we want  -  more of Martin's stuff - when do we want it  - now!!   Gina is doing a flying visit tomorrow - no she's not doing an aerobatic display or anything like that - she's calling on her way back from Hanley to Lincolnshire after her shopping trip.  They don't have shops in the east apparently.  She was going to spend more time with us but there are some accommodation difficulties and it would not be easy to meet everyone's expectations on this front, hence the flying visit.  I was ever so slightly shocked today when Jan pointed out, in her excellent log from last night, that it was 20 weeks since the accident - but I counted up the weeks  (several times) today and can indeed confirm that we are into week 21 - frightening!!  At least there is a little opportunity each day to 'wind down' - just a little.  Something always seems to happen when you think there's a chance to really relax for a bit - so we don't assume we'll be able to do so.  Tomorrow, I think I've a few jobs to do at Wetley Rocks in preparation for Martin's return there during the week.  

Thursday 21st July 2005

Jan here - Once a month, usually on a Thursday night, Jack gets to not only spend all day at work, but all evening as well.  He is rightfully "pushing up the Zzzs now" - hence writing the log has fallen to me. 

Where's Martin - I imagining you are wondering. The next instalment of his account is (like a good project) way overdue. I can vouch for the fact that he has been working on it diligently between other actives all day.  He sends his apologies and begs that you be patient.

This morning he accompanied me and Bella to a K9 behaviour/obedience training class, it went really well - 'Top of the Class' - and Bella did OK too (I'm sorry, I bet you all saw that one coming).  The 'TENS' machine finally arrived this morning which if all goes well will help to ease the pain in Martin's shoulder.  It has a mind boggling number of modes and settings, all we have to do is identify what is required and set it up.  The trickiest part is finding the page with instructions in English on it.  It has almost every language except 'Klingon' which is the only other one Martin understands!   At lunch time the care worker arrived and Martin impressed us both by skilfully managing to single handedly wash and dissect a number of potatoes, coat them with butter and honey, and roast them in the oven.  Another excellent lunch.

I have just checked my watch (01.45) and realise that at this time exactly 20 weeks ago Martin was being freed from the wreck of the car, as it, and Martin's life, hung precariously in the balance on those iron railings. The policeman's knock on the front door that cold wintry night still haunts me and was the 'shove' that started the roller coaster ride which has now slowed and come onto a more level (but still a bit bumpy at times) track.  Normality is returning and there are so many of you to thank, so I offer grateful thanks to each and everyone of you - Martin's Mum.

Wednesday 20th July 2005

I've been told that the next part of Martin's work is not complete and he doesn't want to publish only part of it (you know what these authors and artists are like!).  There is a growing 'Martin Dempsey Appreciation Society' out there and many of them will be waiting anxiously for the next chapter (that'll be chapter 5 then).  I'm hoping that tomorrow evening we'll be able to bring this to you.  When I was writing the logs each night I was conscious that I was occasionally exceeding a page full of text.  Martin it would seem is not happy unless he's up around the 3 to 5 thousand words in each chapter.  Mind you, he sets a start and end for each chapter before he begins and then pads out the gap between those points with the relevant information.  I can report that many people have told me how much they like the style of his writing, and the subtle (and sometimes somewhat more direct) humour.  He really seems to have a talent for telling it pretty much like it is (or was).  Well at least it will give me a night off as duty 'proof reader' and 'punctuator'.  Martin must be getting really fed up with me asking him to 'say it like you want it to be read', so that I can punctuate it accordingly.  Yesterday's "it was time to try standing standing and if I could stand standing", was a bit mind boggling to start with, until I got Martin to 'say it like he meant it to sound'.  I think we managed to get it suitably punctuated so that it came across as it was meant to.  Jan went to Martin's house in Wetley Rocks today to oversee the man who'd come to fit 'hand rails' at strategic points around the house (primarily on the stairs).  Martin has a bit of a down on these additions - which in many respects I can understand.  He's had a bit of a 'jibber' about them (and unfortunately we don't have a 'jibber room' here) - but at the end of the day (I really hate using that expression) they are likely to be the final piece of the jig-saw that will enable his return to his own house.  OK, once he's got a bit steadier, he'll be able to 'whip out' the old screwdriver (lets hope he's already got a right handed screw driver set - or we'll be buying new ones for him) and remove the offending articles.  Then with a bit of 'poly-filler' and a blob or two of paint and he'll be able to restore that original look - single handed.  Already plans are being finalised to move him back in next week (probably on Wednesday).   Anyway I digress - getting back to Jan at Martin's house, she got out the vacuum to clean up the mess after all that drilling,  and then she decided to empty the cleaner's 'bag' (although I think it's more of a container).  She took it out to the dustbin and emptied it into the bin, just as a gust of wind got behind the contents and threw them back all over her (perhaps there'd been a rogue cyclone trapped in the cleaner).  Hmmmm - not very clever she thought as she shook the majority off.  Just then she heard someone knocking at the front door, which she obviously answered.  It was Martin's department boss - who's seen the activity at the house as he drove past, and called in on the off chance that Martin was there.  He must have formed an interesting opinion of Jan.  So if you're reading this she's not always like that, she usually dusts herself down before she goes out in public.  ;-o

Tuesday 19th July 2005

As Martin is getting into the 'swing' of this 'ere log writing, I'd like to precede his work tonight with a short letter of encouragement that's been received via email (since the 'guestbook' isn't up at the moment) and passed on to him.  He was really pleased - firstly to find out that someone actually took the time to read his missive, and secondly that they seemingly liked it.  Here's what the email said: 

"Martin, You should seriously consider publishing this biographette!  It's easy read, written in an open and honest style, with no holds barred.  The humour is superb and I can see where that comes from!  Really enjoying your account.  It's this kind of read that would give hope and encouragement to other parents / relations in similar situations.  Well done!! Keep it up!"

So with no more ado here's chapter 4....

This section now removed - you can find it in Martin's Story

Monday 18th July 2005

Today Martin went to see his GP and introduced himself, and his injuries to him.   He was given a 'sick note' which I shall have to take in to work for him.   Jan and he went with Bella to a nearby field (a short car journey) to take a little exercise.  They were all tired when they returned, especially Martin.   The dog then 'begged' to go out and after a short while we found that she was making a bid for Australia, by digging in a flower bed - naughty Bella !!!

Martin's account continues with Chapter 3. 

This section now removed - you can find it in Martin's Story

Sunday 17th July 2005

As promised on Friday, Martin's own account continues today with a new chapter titled 'limbo' which details those early days when we, as parents and visitors, could only look on and wonder what was going on 'in there'.  It seems that there was more than a little going on and what amazes me is that Martin has been able to recall these mostly imaginary events with such detail, depth and passion.  See what you think - apologies for the length of this chapter but it does continue from Friday's log - so it's effectively 3 days worth - enjoy Chapter 2.

This section now removed - you can find it in Martin's Story

Saturday 16th July 2005

Today was my birthday!  So I was up to a full English breakfast this morning with cards and presents to open - wonderful.  Martin presented me with a little something that's quite fascinating and which I've never seen before - so full marks there, to everyone.  Later on I got absorbed into a neighbours PC problem  I only went to help him configure a USB card, and have finished up rebuilding from scratch the whole thing.  Well it had a Pentium 166 and a huge 1.2 GByte disk drive - oh! and 32 MBytes of ram.  On the bottom it said 'Property of Adam and Eve' - or at least it ought to have.   Martin has been writing some more of his 'War and Peace', so watch out tomorrow (Monday) for the next instalment.  He's been suffering a bit with his head hurting, not deep inside but just under the skin, where the stitches were placed around the bone flap area after his operation.  He's been told that this is probably the nerves growing back through the scar tissue and that it should (eventually) stop hurting.  I think its driving him mad!!   The dog has been keeping him company especially whilst Jan and I were out.   I'm not exactly sure who's idea it was to eat the front door mat, but there were great chunks of it all over the hall.  How's it go?  Who's a naughty girl then.....  Bella now seems to dash to hide behind Martin when I shout at her, and Martin then convinces me that she's OK  - so I back off and get on with whatever I was doing beforehand.   I've had some interesting feed back about the weekly 'stats', so here are some simpler ones showing the number of page hits over the last few days and where they are from.
 

Number of page hits Percent Country Name
1042 95.51% United Kingdom
31 2.84% United States
15 1.37% Australia
3 0.27% Canada

 

Friday 15th July 2005

Martin's style of writing seems vaguely familiar.  I think that my demands for a short précis of the early part of 'his story' has got off to a really good start.  Mind you he's spending every hour that he's awake documenting his experience.  I was going to publish the second section tonight but Martin feels it should wait until Sunday night as there are more visitors to his site Monday to Friday than at the weekends.  So the log tonight is being written by me (Jack), as usual.  What did Martin do today, is the usual format for these logs and today will be no exception.  He went to work!  No not to 'work', but to socialise and (no doubt) to check up on what people are doing, and make sure that no-ones changed any of his previous work without good reason.  He'd spoken to his colleagues during the week and they'd decided that they'd all have lunch together, in the staff restaurant.  Jan dropped him off at reception a little later than anticipated, but no problem since the guys and gals in the office had 'booked' a table - normally only reserved for vip's (well I suppose he is a 'very injured person' - or perhaps a 'very intelligent person' - or if you know something better or funnier tell us via the guest book).  I furnished him with his dinner - stood in the queue and waited for his chicken noodle dinner to be prepared in the wok - and then after a brief stay (to eat my chips!) left him to entertain his mates, who'd joined us by this time.  As I was leaving I heard someone say 'Mr Dempsey', so I waited and said 'that's my name'.  An employee came up to me and explained how pleased she was to see Martin back in the building and went on to say how powerful she found these logs.  She doesn't really know either of us personally - only via the logs - but was in no doubt as to our identity when she saw Martin.  I was touched by this brief encounter and would like to thank you very much for what you said (yes you're all right - I didn't get her name!).  Martin took some time over his lunch (not easy mastering noodle twisting with a fork in your knife hand) and then did a bit of mingling around his section.  After an hour or so he was all 'mingled out' and hailed his Mum to drive him back to our house (good old 'Mum's Taxi').   I've had quite a bit of positive feedback after Martin's first 'self written' log, what do you think about it - tell us all.   I note that Martin tells us that he's not cut out to be a Bond villain, like 'jaws' or 'odd-job'.  Hmmmm, at one point recently he told me that perhaps he could be a modern 'odd-job' perhaps going under the name of 'random-task'.  Like 'odd-job' he too has an interesting hat which, assuming the throwing of it could be perfected, would definitely hurt when it hit you.  Mind you he's not in to crushing golf balls or gold plating the ladies (as far as I'm aware). 

Thursday 14th July 2005

As promised yesterday, and to coincide with the start of the 19th week since the accident, Martin has put pen to paper (figuratively speaking) and written an account of this period from his perspective (which should be very interesting).  We have not edited the following account in any way - other than running it through a quick spell and grammar check (that's not to say that we haven't missed any errors - but if we have I apologise).   So pin back your ears and enjoy Martin's work.

This section now removed - you can find it in Martin's Story

Wednesday 13th July 2005

I came home from work today to find that Martin, Jan, and the one with four legs (Bella) had just returned from a trip out in the car to a little place nearby where the dog can have a good run.  Apparently that's exactly what she did do, run, but not specifically in the direction that they wanted her to.   Nor did she run in the direction from where all the 'come here' shouting was emanating - bad dog!!.  The result was that one of the humans got to do some running too - can you guess who?  Yes you're probably right, it was not Martin but Jan who had to run after the dog and bring her back.  I'm told that she liked the freedom of the open space, and ran very very well and very fast and that we should consider racing her, but who would look after Martin and Bella if Jan went off to compete in the Olympics?   I shall no doubt have to go into hiding after that comment (I know my place !! - move up dog, make room for me).   It'll probably be Thursday when most of you get to read this entry so I'll let you know that tomorrow (Friday) Martin is planning to visit work and have a lunch in the canteen before doing a bit of mixing afterwards.  He'll perhaps need to set up some arrangement with his OT, who usually attends here (Cheadle) at lunchtime (Monday to Friday) to check out Martin's cooking capabilities.  Disregard the previous point as Martin has already sorted out the OT visit and it will not interfere with his plans (I just went to check with him).   What I've just found out is that Martin is currently 'beavering' away with his own 'story' that will be published here in due course.  Thanks go out to all of you who placed encouraging guest book entries for him to do this - that'll be both of you then - you know who you are.  It appears that Martin wishes to publish his first 'work' on Friday to coincide with the 19th week since his accident.  I'm going to proof read some of it later, but will not be hinting as to the content or format of the document.  These will be Martin's words, in his style, and with his interpretation of the previous 19 weeks.  That'll definitely be worth looking forward to - maybe even worth getting in a box of 'kleenex tissues' - just in case, you never know!  Other news is that Martin's house, in Wetley Rocks, is to be checked out tomorrow so that they can 'harden' or 'soften' it as required.  There's likely to be some recommendations for grab rails and the like at strategic positions, especially on the stairs.  This is the first stage in Martin's relocation back to his own home, and any required work will have to be completed before he can do so.  Tomorrow afternoon Jan is going back to the Haywood Hospital and will be taking Martin with her.  They're visiting this time, other patients that is, as they promised they would.  I shall ask them to convey my good wishes to those I know that are still there, and of course our collective thanks to the staff.   

Tuesday 12th July 2005

Martin's had a busy day today.  There was an important meeting this morning, which went reasonably well, and this was followed by his OT lunchtime visit which had Martin cooking.  As I was at home today he was preparing a meal for three,  although  I ducked out of the kitchen before he started (too many cooks....etc).  I was not sure what he might conjure up, specifically since he knows that I'm not into any of that foreign stuff,  unlike he and Jan.  Anyway I was pleasantly surprised a short while later to be served up with a rather delicious toasted sausage sandwich, which I made short work of (I can tell you).   During the afternoon he spent a lot of time on the phone, speaking to friends both near and far, and arranging another trip in to the 'factory'.  He still has some paperwork to complete regarding his mortgage (which he's in the process of reorganising), so a visit to the branch will no doubt be on the cards too.  There's been some rather disturbing news from his distant friend, which has given us all 'food for thought', but this medium is not the place for such issues, and although we're very concerned they're actually outside our control anyway (distant friend please note).  Martin and Jan have now gone to Wetley Rocks to await the Tesco delivery truck, since Martin has ordered up some more 'vittals' for his future therapy sessions, and using the 'online' ordering method the goods have to be delivered to the credit card address (I think).   So apologies to anyone trying to negotiate the main road through Wetley Rocks tonight.  I was pleased to see an entry on the guest book today written by Martin - OK it's a couple of jokes that he dreamt-up during the last 18 weeks.  It's a good start for sure although you'd have thought he might have come up with a few more...?   I'm going to try and encourage him to put something else on there - maybe a bit more meaningful - although I might need some additional encouragement (so come on guys - encourage away).  Seems that my 'stats' which were attached yesterday have indicated to someone that their network traffic is being routed via a distant holiday destination - I knew someone would find them useful.  More stats next week....(network administrators please note).  I did hear thunder this evening (I don't know if it rained anywhere local - it certainly didn't here) and for what it's worth I'd like to put the record straight - I did not touch the BBQ today. 

Monday 11th July 2005

Today was Martin's first home visit by his new occupational therapist (OT).  The master plan was that she'd come along at 12 o'clock midday and watch and encourage Martin whilst he prepared a meal.  Everything went quite well, Martin had pre-prepared some of the meal and this required heating in the oven, whilst some other things had to be done in 'real time'.  According to the OT Martin displayed good reasoning when presented with various difficulties, and worked his way round the problems very well.  An example of overcoming a difficult operation was using a 'tin opener', which Martin had to do predominantly using his right hand, although he found he was able to stabilise everything by introducing his left arm into the procedure.   Some minor difficulties were the fault of an unfamiliarity of Mum's kitchen equipment, like a grill that has apparently a range of settings but is only ever 'full on' or 'off' and an oven that takes longer to heat up than Martin's own appliance does.  Never the less the end product was, according to Jan and Gina (who were the guinea pigs), absolutely delicious.  Soon after eating Gina had to set off back to darkest and flattest Lincolnshire, a journey of anything between 2 and 4 hours (depending on the time of day/traffic), to continue in her chosen career working on aircraft engines (they're referred to as 'sooties' - for fairly obvious reasons).  Martin's got lots of people to see over the next few days, more OT at lunch time each day, his GP (who'll want to be brought up to speed on Martin's condition and medication needs) and a few other people who're planning to 'pop in' to see him.  All these people will be working with Martin (and with his Mum and Dad) to expedite his eventual (complete) return to his own house.  We've encouraged him to spend some time there already, as regular readers will be aware, but the upper floor is off limits until its been assessed by the relevant people, and any grabs, handles or other equipment has been installed to make it 'safer' for him.   That's not to say he hasn't been upstairs already, he has, but only under maximum supervision with someone above and someone below - to cater for most eventualities.  Some more stats follow - showing recent page hits and from some interesting places.

Num ISP City Region Country Name  
465 Britannia-building-society - - United Kingdom United Kingdom
107 Dynamic Consumer Dsl Customers Liverpool England United Kingdom United Kingdom
66 Ntl Infrastructure - Baguley - - United Kingdom United Kingdom
56 Provider Local Registry Blackpool England United Kingdom United Kingdom
53 Energis Uk Burnley England United Kingdom United Kingdom
37 Residential Adsl - Manx Telecom Ramsey Man, Isle Of United Kingdom United Kingdom
28 Opal Telecommunications Internet Service Provider - - United Kingdom United Kingdom
25 European Technology Consultants Santa Cruz De Tenerife Canarias Spain Spain
22 Freeuk Adsl Dynamic Pool Manchester England United Kingdom United Kingdom
21 Ntli Grimsby England United Kingdom United Kingdom
18 Aol-eu New York New York United States United States
18 Telewest Dialup Platform Slough England United Kingdom United Kingdom
17 Ntl Standalone Cm - Baguley Stoke On Trent England United Kingdom United Kingdom
16 Manor_bakeries - - United Kingdom United Kingdom
16 Dial-up And Adsl Pool London England United Kingdom United Kingdom
14 X-stream Porto Porto Portugal Portugal
11 Adsl Ip's (static) For Customer Use - - United Kingdom United Kingdom
7 Ntl Infrastructure For Virgin - Birmingham - - United Kingdom United Kingdom
6 Ntl Infrastructure - Manchester London England United Kingdom United Kingdom
6 Nildram - - United Kingdom United Kingdom
6 Broadband Business London England United Kingdom United Kingdom
5 Earthlink Network Inc Atlanta Georgia United States United States
5 Residential Dial-up And Adsl Pool London England United Kingdom United Kingdom
4 Demon Internet / Thus Plc Goa Goa India India
3 Atos Internet Core And E-business Group - - United Kingdom United Kingdom
3 Ntl Bia - Stoke Cable Modem Dhcp Pool Stoke On Trent England United Kingdom United Kingdom
3 Stuart-wright London England United Kingdom United Kingdom
2 Narrowband Ip Pools - - United Kingdom United Kingdom
2 Ntl Infrastructure - Guildford - - United Kingdom United Kingdom
1 Easynet - - United Kingdom United Kingdom

Sunday 10th July 2005

(Jan) Yesterday saw the arrival of an expected letter from Martin's consultant following the appointment he had a couple of weeks ago. At that time the consultant gave Martin a glimmer of hope that an early replacement of the bone flap may well mean getting some use back in his left hand.  We left that meeting feeling pretty optimistic. Unfortunately the letter stated that after close inspection of the CT scan done in May, putting the missing piece of scull back is unlikely to help, so this operation will go ahead as originally planned sometime in September. This is naturally a big disappointment but Martin has taken it bravely as with everything else he has had to endure in the last eighteen weeks.   He had a restless and sleepless night as his back, shoulder and head were aching and he just couldn't get comfortable.  He still rose reasonably early though and  requested a lift to his house to spend the day with his former girl friend who had stayed there last night.  This left us, me, Jack and Gina free for the day.  We enjoyed a trip to Trentham Gardens Koi show (a bit fishy) and a visit to a local DIY store before returning home for a light lunch. This kept us in close proximity just in case Martin needed assistance. He didn't of course, in fact, when Jack went to collect him at tea time he was in fine spirits and apparently had loved being at home cooking lunch with his own equipment in his own kitchen.  He was not without his 'window to the world' however as he had the 'tablet ' with him which was hooked up to the web via his wireless connection.  Tonight after tea and walking a very well behaved dog we, that is me, Martin and Gina,  settled down to watch a scary movie on DVD 'White Noise'. Didn't scare me!!!  

Saturday 9th July 2005

First full day of 'freedom', but no reason for complacency.  Last night's excursion to Leek and the Red Lion went well.   Jan and I picked him up from there a little after 10 pm (we got an extension on the pumpkin from his 'fairy godmother').   I ventured into the pub to locate him, and fortunately someone just inside the door advised me where he was - as far from the entrance as he could be.  The place was 'heaving' and quite loud.   I kept seeing people who I thought I knew - they seemed to know me as they nodded at me as I squeezed past (normal communication being completely out of the question due to the noise music).   In some ways it seemed vaguely familiar, perhaps 25 to 30 years ago I would have been in similar places (oh oh - there I go again, reminiscing - it's an 'age' thing that you'll all find out about, sooner or later, isn't that right AV?).  When I got to the opposite end of the pub I quickly spotted him, surrounded by his friends and obviously having a good time.  There was no resistance though and he followed me back through the swarms of people to the car.  Once out of the pub we were able to speak, and once Martin had said his goodbyes to some of his friends, who'd followed him out, we loaded him into the car and set off for home.  The journey home was notable, since we came face to face with a 'boy racer' who'd decided to overtake about six cars on a particularly bendy part of the road.  Fortunately between my braking and the 'boy racers' speed he managed to make some space and 'get in', back to his side of the road.  Martin was slightly shaken by this experience, but this didn't last long.  When we got home Martin showed us a card he'd been given by two of the nursing staff from the Haywood who'd gone to see him at the Red Lion (I think they were 'in the know' about this event).   It was really nice of them to give a card to a patient (ex-patient) - it's usually the other way round (Jan baked a cake for the staff and presented this and a card earlier at the Haywood - see his 'leaving' picture in the 'Guest Book').  So thanks very much girls - you know who you are, the rest of us can view your card as it's the latest entry in 'Martin's Cards'.  Today his 'ex' girlfriend travelled up from London to see him.  They're having a bit of 'quality time' on their own at Martin's house, watching a couple of films.  Mum's taxi has been pressed into service again and will be required later to bring him back here.  I've a confession to make in that I did light the barbeque tonight - but I waited until well after 7 pm so as not to spoil too much of the day if the rain started - which it didn't.   Jan, Gina (who's back again) and I had a fairly productive day de-lousing the dog (well it's a tough job but someone has got to do it).   Bella was particularly patient whilst we were doing this, and apart from being told off for pinching and eating a carrot and one or two other minor misdemeanours, she's had a reasonable day.  I'm finding it difficult not to get in the car and drive to the Haywood - I can't think why - answers on a post card please.

Friday 8th July 2005

Well he's home, and that's official - I saw him here with my own eyes!  Not only that but I can now reveal that the picture that he's been painting has also been aired, and as a special treat - you too can view it by visiting the 'guest book' page.  I was mega impressed by his artistic talent, and have asked him when he's arranged to have his ears removed (Martin Van Goch ??).  Take a look yourself and leave a message whilst you're there - just follow the visit Martin's Guest Book link (below).  Today I had a visit at work from two very important people, who were 'doing the rounds', but made time in their busy schedules to come and ask me how Martin was getting on.   I told them that today was the day he was coming home.  They asked me to pass on to Martin their pleasure on hearing this and also that he's well on the road to recovery.  I've often been approached in the last four months by people asking for a synopsis of Martin's condition, that can be taken and given to the board, so having members of the board coming directly to me was quite a humbling experience.   I was good for us all in that it happened on such a 'positive' day.   Martin's first task when he came home was to check on his friends and colleagues, that he knows or believes work in London, to ensure that they are all safe following yesterdays terrible events.  Jan and I know only too well the distress that many families will be facing following this despicable act.  Our hearts go out to all whose lives have been affected.   Now that Martin has checked up on his distant friends, it's off to the Red Lion in Leek (which has to be his favourite 'watering hole') to have a bit of a celebration with those closer to home.   He'll be restricting his intake to drinks of the 'soft' variety - as falling over is not a recommended activity  in his current condition.  Without a complete 'solid' cover for his 'grey matter' (don't ask him to show you !!) he has to be quite careful that he doesn't knock his head on anything - and that includes the floor.  Mum's taxi will be delivering him to the door at or about 7.30 this evening and I shall return to pick him up at 10 pm. (hopefully before it gets too rowdy in there).  Mind you it sounds as though half of Leek is likely to be dropping in to see him, including some of the nursing staff from the Haywood  - who're obviously making sure he's continuing his physio exercises at the pub - it's what your right arms for isn't it  (hmmm, but what about your left??).  I'm posting the log a bit early tonight so that anyone 'local' who reads it can have the chance of toddling along to the Red Lion to see him for themselves.  Any significant additional news and I'll add it on to this report later.  Let's hope he has a good night out - and remembers the previously posted warning about the 'carriage' and the 'pumpkin').  

Thursday 7th July 2005

Martin was in super fine spirit tonight when we visited (anyone would think he was 'getting out' tomorrow).   We took a beef burger along to supplement his tea.   When we got there Martin had spotted and intercepted someone from the days of the  MIU and ward 23, a patient and her partner - whom together, with us, had gone through the roller coaster of emotions as her condition changed from day to day (and sometimes hour to hour).  She'd spent most of her time in the adjacent  bed to Martin, and though he'd never really got a handle on the patient, he's often seen her partner during those long visiting hours on the MIU.  We were all very happy to see how well we were each doing respectively and there was a bit of 'trachie' scar comparison going on.  We all agreed that Martin's hadn't (yet) healed as nicely as the competition.   Once we'd said our goodbyes it was time to tuck into the burger, and Martin showed it no mercy.  I was very impressed by the speed at which he made it disappear.  Martin then went on to tell us what a really good day he'd had - and that today's physio was the best ever.  It seems as though he had a long session on the TENS machine (don't ask how long !!), and then he was invited along to the hyrda-pool, where some exercises were carried out which he believes actually did some good.  Lets put it this way, he's never said that he felt good about having done any physio before today.   Maybe it's psychological and all to do with the euphoria of leaving tomorrow - I'm not sure.   We tucked him into bed a little earlier tonight so that we could get home a tad sooner to minimize the potential destruction of 'four legs', but were pleased to find that only a few things had been rounded up (or should that be down) to a small area on the floor.  These were easily tidied so, by the skin of her teeth, Bella manages to avoid another big dressing down.   This is no bad thing because with so much 'telling off' she was getting a bit twitchy when either of us approached her, so we were able to give her just a little bit of fussing tonight.   Note - visiting times revised again, now its by arrangement (give us a bell if you'd like to visit and we'll try and make Martin available for you).  People from the 'factory' - you can get my number (home/mobile) from the operators - or call on Martin's mobile (same source if you don't know it already).    You could also drop an email or a guest book entry to that effect.

Wednesday 6th July 2005

It's official - he's to be 'released' on Friday.   That was the outcome of this mornings meeting at the Haywood which Jan and I, and indeed Martin, attended.  Martin says that he won't stop work on the 'tunnels' (Tom, Dick and Harry), as they may prove useful for the others in his ward, who'll be staying on after he leaves.  Arrangements for out-patient physio (at our house) were set, as was a plan to review Martin's house in Wetley Rocks, with his return there being the ultimate goal.   I think that we'll be seeing quite a lot of him around here for a couple of weeks at least.  Who knows, with a few well placed handles and rails, maybe he'll be given the 'all clear' to move back to his own house sooner rather than later.  There's some adjustments taking place with his tablets which, as far as I can tell at this time, should reduce the amount he has to take each day.   I understand that these changes have now been 'written up', so the new regime should start immediately.   There's also some talk of getting a "TENS" machine on loan from Leek, at least until we provide one privately for him, something that we're keen to do (of course) but have to be sure we get the right type (apparently there are many variations and some exposure to the one on loan will help us to understand Martin's specific requirements).   TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) machines are widely used to control pain.  Jan and I, and indeed a colleague from work (who visits a lot), sat and talked amongst ourselves for about an hour or more, as Martin was in the 'land of nod' when we arrived and didn't wake up for some time.  He eventually got to hear of all the wonderful things that are happening at work, on projects and the like, and mostly seemed to be shaking his head from side to side.  Surely it's not that bad....?

Jan -- This is supposed to be Martin's log but today it is also a 'Bella' report.  On our return from this mornings meeting she had lived up to her full name 'Bellatrix' ('Harry Potter' fans should understand this).  We thought that we had taken all reasonable precautions to make the kitchen Bella proof - how wrong can you be?   Since she already demonstrated that she considers anything she can reach as fair game to be smashed, eaten or chewed, we moved all pens, medication, correspondence, tea towels, sink plug, pan scrubber, pressure cooker weight(!!!), the telephone, etc. out of the way.  The few dirty pots could not be left in the sink because she pulls them out on to the floor so I put them in the washing up bowl full of water as far back as possible on the work top.  You have probably guessed by now that she somehow managed to pull the whole lot down on to the floor ---- ooooops!   The casualties included my favourite hand painted tea mug, a heavy glass that shattered like the windscreen of a car, one of Martin's favourite Ikea cereal bowls (large), two plates and a wine glass.  All that plus other things like her blanket, the cutlery, a hand towel, and other sundries  were swimming in the washing up water all over the kitchen floor. I think she frightened herself, and fear, as everyone knows manifests itself  as brown and smelly together with a pale yellow liquid. I think you will now have got the picture and are trying hard not to think about it!  The thought that swept fleetingly through my mind was "bungle her into the car without delay and drive swiftly back to the City dogs home", but don't be silly we could never do that.  A lesson learned, I won't let that happen again. Bella was banished to the garden and the clean up operation began.  All that was required was copious quantities of disinfectant, lots of kitchen towel, a brush, a mop and most importantly a strong stomach - easy, 40 minutes later 'job done'. This was the worst ever, or do you know better? Answers in the guest book please!   Aaaarrgghh!  A repeat performance tonight!!!  Well almost except for the washing up - which was put away before we went out.  Seems she finds our kitchen floor preferable, for certain things, to the nasty wet grass in the garden, outside.   Carry on like this and Jack says she'll be 'incorporated' into the garden!!!

Tuesday 5th July 2005

For those of you out there who log on from far away places let me tell you that in Staffordshire it rained and rained and then rained some more accompanied by thunder and lightening.  However the weather did not dictate the mood we found Martin in this evening when we squelched on to the ward at Haywood.  He met us with a beaming smile and chatted about the days events.  While Jack was away doing some research of the hospital plumbing, Martin wanted to show me something and led the way up the long sloping corridor, he walked without the aid of his stick in a determined fashion and a whole lot better than I'd seen him walk for a long time. Along another passage to a flight of stairs, then he demonstrated how fluidly and easily he could climb the first fight. He took the second flight in twos without using the hand rail, very scary but also impressive. The confidence and agility that he displayed was awesome and surpassed anything I've seen him do previously.  We returned to his bedside and joined Jack who'd missed the excursion, so, after a short rest Martin set off and did an encore for his Dad who was suitably  'gob smacked' as well.   We will be attending the 'gold' planning meeting in the morning and we expect to be arranging for Martin's discharge at the end of the week. The last two weekends he has been home with Jack and I have gone pretty well, especially the last one which included 'Bella'. I believe we are ready to take over until Martin is well enough to go it alone at his own house. Martin is going to the Red Lion again on Friday night so call in if you're passing, but be warned - his carriage turns into a pumpkin around 10pm.

Monday 4th July 2005 (Independence Day - U.S.)

Martin was returned to the Haywood this morning after his longer than planned weekend.   First thing this morning he was woken up by the 'cold nose' of Bella.  This must have been very cold as it drove him out of bed quite early - in fact he was spotted having his breakfast, then shortly after was outside playing a 'fetch' game with the dog - wow!!  The day has been relatively uneventful, the only notable event was a visit at the hospital by those who will be taking on Martin's physio once he gets home.  When we visited this evening he was in good spirits, but had not had any tea.  He was 'grassed' on by one of the nursing staff.  Jan asked should she go up to the chippy - only a couple of hundred yards away - he said "Yes please - that would be good".  So off she went, and at roughly the same time the heavens opened and we got some typical English summer weather.  She returned shortly after, looking somewhat wetter, but with a portion of sausage and chips which Martin promptly destroyed.  It was good to see him eat a decent portion - and whilst not the most balanced food available, this certainly gave him some 'calories' (which is what he needs right now).  Anyway we watched a little TV then 'popped' him into bed and came home - only to find that a certain 'four legs' had redistributed everything in the kitchen that was portable.  It's clear that dogs can usually tell when they're in 'deep' trouble, and this one is no exception.  Trouble is that she soon forgets and does the same thing when next left on her own.  I've started learning 'dog speak' - my first words were "Grrrrrrr - Grrrrrrr!!".  (I must not grit my teeth).   Some more web stats follow for last week (Monday - Sunday):-


Weekly Stats Report: 27 Jun - 3 Jul 2005
URL: http://web.ukonline.co.uk/jack.dempsey/martin.html

  Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun Total Avg
Pageloads 282 300 369 354 231 101 125 1,762 252
Unique Visitors 86 112 90 83 69 40 50 530 76
First Time Visitors 39 57 29 30 14 20 32 221 32
Returning Visitors 47 55 61 53 55 20 18 309 44

 

Sunday 3rd July 2005

I've now corrected the dates on the last two entries, which for some reason (probably due to what Gina would describe as a senior moment) I'd logged as early June (again).  Today is the 3rd July and we've all been to a family 'gathering' and met up with some relations who we've not seem for twenty-odd years.  There has been a mass migration from Canada, I think 17 in all, who'd come along to the UK to attend a family wedding (last week) and a christening (this week).  It was really nice to take advantage of so many in one place at the same time, and renew old acquaintances, and some new ones too.  Martin was fairly keen to go along, even though it meant a 140 mile journey each way (which he found very difficult as expected).  Once he got in to the spirit he really enjoyed speaking to these folk, some of whom remember him only as a toddler (that's when he was much shorter than now).  Part of the master plan was to take 'Bella' along.  She was extremely well behaved and was, for a short while at least, the centre of attention.  We also picked up his Grandma from Wakefield (which was on the way - ish!) and she was delighted to see Martin out and about on this his first major excursion from home.  She was also pleased to see the dog, that so far she'd only read about in the progress log.  It seems that Grandma is receiving the daily logs by post (!!) from some friends who often visit the 'home'.  I'd really like to thank them for providing this service, which I'd always thought that the home were doing (shows what I know then, doesn't it).  Anyway we all had super day, but had to leave just as the barbeque was being lit (Doh!).   We actually misjudged our return time (for one reason or another) and had to phone the Haywood to ask them if we could keep Martin out overnight.  After some skilful negotiating by Jan, they agreed, so she's to take him back tomorrow morning.   As promised yesterday here's some stats from the last week - it's fascinating to work out who (for instance) was in Goa (India) and logged in to check on Martin's progress.  If that was you drop an entry into the guestbook and let us all know who you are.
 

  Num of Page Hits City Region Country Name Flag 
  649 - - - -
  100 Stoke On Trent England United Kingdom United Kingdom
  92 London England United Kingdom United Kingdom
  26 Blackpool England United Kingdom United Kingdom
  22 Bracknell England United Kingdom United Kingdom
  22 Brooklyn New York United States United States
  18 Leeds England United Kingdom United Kingdom
  16 Manchester England United Kingdom United Kingdom
  15 Bristol England United Kingdom United Kingdom
  10 Grimsby England United Kingdom United Kingdom
  8 Rennes Bretagne France France
  7 Goa Goa India India
  7 Douglas Man, Isle Of United Kingdom United Kingdom
  6 Edinburgh Scotland United Kingdom United Kingdom
  6 Slough England United Kingdom United Kingdom
  5 Ely England United Kingdom United Kingdom
  5 Huddersfield England United Kingdom United Kingdom
  4 Atlanta Georgia United States United States
  3 Durham England United Kingdom United Kingdom
  3 Ramsey Man, Isle Of United Kingdom United Kingdom
  2 Luton England United Kingdom United Kingdom
  2 Cheltenham England United Kingdom United Kingdom
  1 New York New York United States United States

 

Saturday 2nd July 2005

Martin was up with the sparrows this morning.  He was exercising 'Bella' in his shorts and slippers well before 8 a.m.  It seems that the dog is having the desired effect and Martin has now been given the responsibility for feeding her also.  I've previously mentioned that we have no history for Bella whatsoever, and that all we know is that she's a lurcher (that's a greyhound cross).  Well today we've identified what else is in her makeup besides greyhound.  There's a significant number of 'genes' from the following - Magpie and Mole.  Here's how I came to that conclusion. There's an area of the garden that seems to have been allocated as Bella's collection point.  So far some ornaments, a washing up sponge, a potato, some packing material and various pieces of wood have been systematically liberated from the house and stored at the collection point (Magpie) We've also intercepted her on the way out with the TV remote -  god knows how we'd cope if that went missing!  In addition one or two of these items were obviously deemed worthy of extra special treatment - they were to be buried at the bottom of what appeared to have the makings of a significant pit.  The soil was being scattered out in all directions (Mole).  At the last count we were on excavation number 3.  Bella seems to have a flair for such digging and was making more impact on the soil than the last time I tried digging there - and I was using a spade!  Martin finds it all very amusing.  His mouth sores are still giving him much discomfort and making eating difficult.  This morning after breakfast he stood up without realising his 'bad' arm was trapped under the table.  The resulting clatter of the table first rising with his arm under it then falling back to terra firmer caused Bella to scurry off without reaching any higher than ankle height.  It took a while to restore communications and for her to accept she'd done nothing wrong (or has she a guilty conscience?).  The rest of the days been fairly uneventful, Gina washed and polished her car - thus shaming me to at least play the hose on my car for a while (I had to wait until she's gone out to do this though).  Some interesting 'stats' to publish tomorrow, so watch this space.  

Friday 1st July 2005

Martin has departed the Haywood for the weekend, but not without picking up another 'trophy'.   He was holding the car door open and talking to Bella, who'd been on a 'wild goose chase' to the vets (more on that later), when he ducked his head down and 'clonked' himself just above his left eye on the door frame.  Doh!!  Although he said 'it didn't hurt', he was sitting in the car with a stream of blood down his face.  A small army of nursing staff rallied to his aid, and it seems his treatment became something of a training exercise - what shall we use, a bandage, no we'd be much better off using a 'steri-strip' (this is one of those rather narrow white adhesive strips that is often used instead of a stitch).  I suppose that the opportunities for 'real' injury treatment is fairly infrequent being a rehabilitation unit.  Anyway with such impressive attention he was fixed up in no time, as good as new  (well almost - except for quite a few other things that we all know about).  Once home we were joined by another of Martin's Aunts, this one staging through on her way from her home in the 'three legged country' - the Isle of Man - to the far east (Immingham).  Martin enjoyed a meal with us all and spent quite some time outside with Bella before retiring to his room and his computer for some rest (??).  This was interrupted by a call about his mortgage that had him 'fuming'.     I think once he's calmed down I'll ask him what he'd like to do this weekend.   The 'wild goose chase' with the dog, mentioned above, is another example of procedural mayhem.  The City Dogs Home gave us a voucher to cover Bella's first injection - which has to be redeemed at a vets on Bucknall New Road.  OK so far.  The instructions were to go between 9-9.30 am  in the morning - which is what Jan did.  She was 'advised' that it was silly bringing the dog within a couple of days of getting her, and that she should not go for at least a week - so that any problems can have a chance to develop and become apparent.  Of course this makes perfect sense, but it seems that message although allegedly passed on regularly  to the City Dogs Home, has not been passed on to their customers.  So any potential saving from the 'voucher' has now been lost in the wasted journey to Hanley and back.  Typical !!    

Thursday 30th June 2005

Martin's Aunt and Uncle from 'down south' have driven up today from 'the smoke' to Stoke.  They're staying overnight then heading back down south tomorrow (rather them than me on a Friday!!).  They got an introduction to Bella (see yesterdays log) and then after a early meal we all went to the Haywood to see Martin - all except Bella that is who stayed behind and promised to be on her best behaviour whilst we were out.   Martin was in reasonable form, although his mouth sores are still the source of much discomfort for him.  Today he'd been cooking (cooooking - for Staffs folk) and had produced some scones.   They were interesting in that they were of different sizes and thicknesses.  We were told that one or two of the nurses had already reserved some of the scones.  We carried out the ultimate test on them, and ate them.  Nothing much wrong with them - so full marks for the chef.  Martin asked about Bella and we told him she was at home, guarding the estate.  We also told him she was off for her injection(s) tomorrow and that Jan would call and pick up Martin from the Haywood after this medicine has been administered.  Martin was pleased to see his Aunt and Uncle and spent much time telling them all about various things that he'd seen and heard since he last saw them.  He also talked about his 'TENS' unit which is a device for helping reduce pain by pulsing electrical signals through his body.  Sounds 'shocking' but it really does work.  The intensity and frequency of the signal can be changed from the control unit, which is about the size of a pocket sized transistor radio (showing my age again!!).  Two pads are stuck onto the skin around the area of discomfort and the unit is energised (that's posh for switched on).  Martin says that it really can help with the pain, although it can take a little trial an error to position the pads to maximum effect.  We left Martin applying these controlled impulses to his body and dashed home to check on the dog.  Naughty dog !!  A little puddle and a broken cup, which was obviously brought down from the draining board.  Some words passed between those of us with two legs and the quadruped, although I'm not sure that it meant a great deal to her.  Let's hope that this is just an isolated incident and is not a trend!

Wednesday 29th June 2005

Today the dog was picked up from the City Dogs Home.  After a short period of domestic acclimatisation it was off to the "V", "E", "T", for the usual preventative treatments that most dogs need and should have after spending some time in a rescue kennel.  We're simply talking treatments to prevent parasites, both internal and external.   Anyway before this thread goes any further in that direction I'll explain that Gina took the dog to the "V", "E", "T", in Jan's car,  whilst Jan and I hot-footed it to the Haywood in my car.  We'd a loose arrangement with Gina to call around to the Haywood, with the dog, if she got sorted in good time.  Martin was catching up on his beauty sleep when we arrived, but quickly woke and was relating his day to us.  He told us about being asked by the 're-enablement' councillor how he was, and how he answered 'shattered'.   His sense of humour still shines through from time to time.  We'd not been talking for long when I received notification that Gina (and the dog) had just arrived at the rear of the hospital.  We asked Martin if he'd like to come to the back door (where the smokers often amass) to greet Gina and of course the dog.  He was out of bed fairly quickly and before you could say "Jack Robinson" was outside the door and beckoning the dog towards him.  Here started the great 'bonding' process - and what a success in such a short time.  Martin was keen to walk a little way down the paths and across the lawns, keeping in close proximity to his new found canine friend.  Gina was showing off the dog to Martin, by running with it and making it jump up, whilst he watched enthusiastically from his vantage point. Martin's regular visitor from work arrived at this time and was probably a little surprised to find him outside, in the fresh air!  It was truly great to see him showing so much attention to the dog and doing things that he would not have done normally.  At one point as Gina was about to leave with the dog, Martin decided he would like to see the dog get into the car.  He moved across the grass a little to get a better view of the car, which was about 50 yards away.  Gina opened the hatch and got the dog to jump in that way - which completely scotched Martin's master plan and meant he hadn't seen any of the action.  So he gritted his teeth and virtually 'route marched' across the grass and down the road to the car where he could then see exactly what the dog was doing.  He said his goodbyes to her, and her (yes they're both females - I had to be very careful how I worded that),  as Gina turned the car around and departed for home.  Martin is looking forward to the weekend so that he can spend some quality time with 'Bella'.

Tuesday 28th June 2005

Today Martin had an 'at home' assessment (even though the 'home' was our home and not, as we all know he'd prefer, his home).   It went well and I guess there'll be little to stop him escaping from 'Stalag Haywood' once he's been given the OK at the next goal planning meeting (I think that's the 'escape committee').  I think after yesterdays busy day Martin was very tired, and hasn't been able to do so much today.  He's also got some mouth sores which are giving him 'jip' - they're also stopping him from eating - not a good thing!   Martin needs to eat and exercise so as to build his strength up to something approaching more normal levels  It's all very well Martin to have a couple of hours out, somewhere special, so long as it doesn't completely drain you.  Maybe when you get home permanently you'll be able to work towards building up both your strength and your stamina.  It's for this reason that we've acquired a four legged companion - one of a similar build to Martin - and we hope that they'll spend a lot of quality time together including some nice walks.  Martin's named the dog 'bellatrix'.  I think that gives us plenty of choice in 'nick names'.  Bellatrix is rather like Martin, currently under lock and key, but unlike him she's at the City Dogs Home.  She's a greyhound cross, or more correctly a lurcher, and as previously stated is tall lean and presumably fast.  We should be picking up the dog soon, maybe tomorrow.  We've supposed to have had a home visit and given the all clear from the dog's home, but I guess that can be done at anytime.  Today Martin got another surprise in the form of a message from the Doctor.  The message was on a card and I delivered it personally to him.  No it wasn't from his GP or his Brain Surgeon, so who was it from - yes that's right it was from  who,   -  Dr Who or Christopher Ecclestone to be specific.  It reads "To Martin Dempsey, best wishes, Chris Ecclestone(signed)".   It's an interesting story as to how this came about.  I was contacted by someone from work who wrote "My brother is a friend of Christopher Ecclestone and I'd told him about the accident and the web site, so along with a high proportion of the population he has been following Martin's progress, and seeing the Dr Who interest, thought an autograph may be appreciated."   I can tell you now it was 'very' appreciated  - so thanks very much to all the 'links' in this particular chain. NOTE: Dr Who fans can find an image of this card by following the 'Martin's cards' link from the main page.  Gina's back home so watch out for a return to her style of writing over the next few days.

Monday 27th June 2005

Quite a busy today for Martin today.  He started with an appointment with his GP this morning in Cheadle.  "Now what ever has happened to you?" asked his doctor.  Martin replied "well - it's a very long story, but fortunately I have a very short version."   Martin was being assessed as to whether, or not, he should qualify for a 'blue badge'  (for my car - when I'm transporting him about).  There was no question about it really, the doctors visit just being a formality.  This will help us getting to difficult places in the immediate future.  Once he'd been to the 'docs' it was back home for lunch and then off to Britannia (in Leek) to see about his mortgage.  The initial good deal on his 2 year fixed interest rate product is due to expire next week and Martin was keen to transfer his mortgage to another product that would work better for him than the standard repayment option.  He'd got an appointment booked for 2:30 p.m. and arrived on the dot and was shown into an interview room.  I was advised that they'd 'give me a bell' when the process was completed - it was estimated to take about an hour.  What none of us knew at this point was that the Britannia network had failed as Martin entered the building and this would make his interview very difficult, as there would be little if any access to the various back end systems until it was 'sorted'.  Anyway the mortgage ground work was done - in about an hour and a half - and I was invited to come and pick him up.  Completing the paper work was put off until a later date.  We decided that we'd make a 'bee line' to Martin's department, but on the way we kept getting accosted by people pleased to see him 'back in the building'.  By the time we did get to his department some of his colleagues had left for the day.   There were sufficient numbers left though to make him feel very welcome and I have to say special.  His boss who'd heard of him being 'on-site' by way of the 'grape-vine' dashed across from the other building to see him and no doubt check on his progress.  I've suggested that when Martin gets just a little stronger that it would be nice if he could spend a couple of hours a week at work (maybe more - depending on how it goes) and this was deemed to be a good idea.   There will of course be some more work (behind the scenes) before this suggestion can become a reality.  After leaving his department Martin said he'd like to do a circuit of the building, which we did, so that he could be spotted by more people who've not seen him for a while.  I have to say that he was worn out by the time I got him to the car and drove him home for his tea.  This evening we're entertaining the RLGs here in Cheadle.  It seems to be going very well with, I hear Jenga, being played - which is something that you can play with just one hand.  Oh oh!  I think there's a stewards enquiry going on - someone (accidentally) kicked the table and caused a collapse of the tower.  Tomorrow Martin's being assessed again to make sure that he's generally capable, and safe, doing things about the house.  Only when he passes this assessment will they be able to 'let him go'!   So as Martin says, he'll be back at the Haywood tomorrow evening and cracking on with 'Tom, Dick and Harry' (you've got to be 'The Great Escape' aficionados to understand what that's all about - answers in the guestbook please). 

Sunday 26th June 2005

We all slept in a bit this morning, some of us had an extra hour and some went into 'extra time'.  It was getting on towards midday when Martin appeared for his breakfast.  He said he'd had such a good nights sleep because he'd had such a late night the previous night (Friday night).  He also told us that yesterday afternoon he'd been asked to offer his advice about some fairly serious issue at work, and one he'd previously had experience of.  It seems he was able to point them in the right direction to minimise the inconvenience (down time) and pointed out some pitfalls that would be all too easy to fall into.  He's obviously been thinking about that too during the night.  Lets hope that the problem is resolved as soon as possible and that Martin's advice helps.  Once Martin had finished his breakfast we all got ready and went out.  First we went to Trentham Gardens, where a 'computer fair' was taking place.  Martin was keen to have a wander around - just to see how prices were falling on such things as disk drives and memory.  We had an option to take a walk in the gardens, but Martin was a bit 'wobbly' after doing the rounds of the 'fair' and didn't feel up to any more walking at that time (phew!! saved me some cash as its about a fiver each to enter the gardens).  So we moved on and headed for Bridgemere Garden centre, where we had some 'snap'.  This consisted of a beef bap,  chips and onion rings.  Martin tucked in and demolished the lot - and the beef helping was, I must say, very generous.  I was quite surprised that he managed to finish it all (this is good though because it's what he needs to boost his strength, good food and plenty of exercise).  After lunch (?) - or should I say mid afternoon meal, we headed for the car but called in and bought a walking stick for Martin..  This is something that he's found helps him to balance a bit better and helps him also when he's walking.  It's also an indicator for other folk to show that he's no one to be jostled or baulked in any way.    He'd been making do with a 'prop' that Jan had made for me out of an old broom handle, which was painted up in black and silver, and I used very successfully as part of my 'Gangster' fancy dress outfit.   As Martin says the walking stick can make an excellent weapon for people who just won't get out of the way (I hope he's joking about this).    He'd developed back ache, which was obviously 'getting to him' by the time we got to the car, so we departed Bridgemere and headed straight for home.   Martin shuffled off to his room (and computer) using his new walking stick to steady him.   He's heavy into some online game now so I guess I shall only see him later, long enough to say goodnight - as I'll be in bed long before he is.  Tomorrow (Monday) he'll be at home, and has an appointment to see the local doctor (GP) who wants to get up to speed on his current condition.  He'll be at home until Tuesday evening, as he's got another home assessment that day  - so taking him back on Monday evening would be rather silly.  

Saturday 25th June 2005

Today we've all been out and about.  First we went to Martin's house (again) and Martin wanted to go upstairs (again) to get his mobile phone charger.   He's been on to his service provider to get his phone re-enabled (it's been off since a couple of weeks after the accident) and he's charged it up - so he's now back 'in touch' on his old number.  We discourage him from taking his 'smart' phone to the hospital, instead we have enabled an old Nokia 'brick' that he can use in emergencies (something that wouldn't be attractive to anyone and wouldn't matter too much if it was dropped and broken, or lost completely).  Later in the day we went to the City Dogs Home and introduced ourselves to some of the dogs there.  We rather like a dog there that is a stray, an unknown quantity, no history,  no name, a greyhound cross (making it by definition a lurcher) and one displaying similar physical attributes to Martin - that is tall, lean and (he tells us) fast.   He's taken a fancy to this dog and Jan and I see that it could provide something for Martin to focus on and give him some extra responsibility and drive.  We think it'll help to motivate him, particularly when he might otherwise be a bit down.  We'll have to wait and see (we've put a reserve on the dog and will pick it up sometime next week, assuming the original owners don't claim it before then).  I thought that I'd have a quick look at the web traffic on this site and found it quite interesting - so I've published some of the information below.  These statistics are for today only (Saturday 25th June) and the top left 'cell' tells me that there have been 225 page loads on the site in total, and the left hand column identifies the number of connections today (it's 9 p.m. now).  You may be interested to see where those originated from (you may even identify your connection).  Over the last few days we've had connections from the USA, Portugal, Canada, Australia, the Isle of Man (well it's overseas), and Holland.  I will make this table a weekly feature of this progress log if people find it interesting - tell me via the guestbook (see below).

 

Num City Region Country Name  
225 - - - -
20 London England United Kingdom United Kingdom
12 Stoke On Trent England United Kingdom United Kingdom
7 Leeds England United Kingdom United Kingdom
6 Brooklyn New York United States United States
5 Manchester England United Kingdom United Kingdom
5 Slough England United Kingdom United Kingdom
5 Bradford England United Kingdom United Kingdom
4 Fremont California United States United States
4 Leicester England United Kingdom United Kingdom
3 Bristol England United Kingdom United Kingdom
3 Guildford England United Kingdom United Kingdom
2 Grimsby England United Kingdom United Kingdom
2 Burnley England United Kingdom United Kingdom
2 De Bilt Utrecht Netherlands Netherlands
1 San Leandro California United States United States

 

Friday 24th June 2005

Martin is out with his friends - in Leek - in a pub!!  We picked him up from the Haywood around 6 p.m. and took him to his house, where he climbed the stairs (under maximum supervision) and changed into his 'going out gear' before descending to the ground floor (carefully watched as before) and got back into the car.   After a quick top up of cash from the 'hole in the wall' he made a 'bee-line' to the Red Lion where a small party of his friends were gathered.   Jan and I stopped for a social drink (coke !!) then ducked out so as not to restrict Martin's chat up lines or embarrass him in any way.   The RLGs (Red Lion Girls) were there (of course) and got permission to start just a little later than normal so that they could spend some time socialising with Martin.  One or two more of his friends had turned up as Jan and I were leaving.  We left a number of contact instructions with a few of those there - so if it all gets too much for him we can go and get him fairly quickly.  I know he's not having any alcohol and he's made it clear to everyone that 'booze' and his tablets would definitely not mix.  Lets hope he enjoys his first night out (OK it's not a full night) and doesn't get too  tired.   When we picked him up later, he was chatting up a nice young lady just inside the pub entrance.  No doubt she'll read this log later and know who I'm talking about.   Martin has realised that he has got to come to terms with some of the after effects of his accident.  The bustling atmosphere of the pub has high-lighted some of these issues. 

He showed us earlier that he'd been practicing writing with his right had (he's left handed normally).   Here's what he wrote:- 

I have been working on my writing all week for this.   Today has been a poetic day....... it's raining here so I started singing....

I'm neither nuts nor insane

I just like walking in the rain

and/or talking with Lorraine,

while walking in the rain.

Walking alone is not the same

Oh won't someone walk/talk with me in the rain.

 

Thursday 23rd June 2005

It was cooking day today (that's 'cooooking' for all our Staffordshire folk), and the results were interesting.  Pineapple upside-down cake was on the menu, and that's what the result was - upside down at the bottom of the bin.   Jan thinks that something in the recipe was not quite right, and although Martin put in a valiant effort his end product was slightly flat and a bit 'rubbery' (like the chicken from a Chinese take-away).  Jan spent most of the afternoon at Haywood.   There was a meeting with the 're-enablement' coordinator (which resulted in a program for continued support in our home to get him to his home as quickly as possible).  We are all determined to do everything in our power to expedite this goal, so that Martin can pick up his own life (and lifestyle) again.   Tonight things were generally quiet, we got there a bit later than normal and found Martin sleeping on his bed.  He'd not been bothered about tea apparently, gently turning the nurse away who woke him at tea time.   He's enough sweets and 'pop' to sink a battleship so he keeps grazing on these most of the time.   Tomorrow we are to pick him up for the weekend - he's got some plans but I'm not allowed to publish them here (well - they may fall by the wayside if he's not up to doing them).  He'll be having an extended stay - that is he'll not be back at the Haywood until Tuesday night (visitors please note).  

Wednesday 22nd June 2005

Today Martin had a very important appointment. It was with his consultant, the one who carried out the original surgery on his head and the one who is responsible for putting back the section of skull that was removed to facilitate that initial life saving operation.  The meeting was good.  Jan was with Martin having acted as duty chauffeur again. Many things were discussed and Martin and his mum came away from the meeting feeling very much better about most things than they did before.  He was full of it tonight and wanted to tell me of what was said and how these things might develop into activities that could help with his recovery.  The consultant was surprised that Martin's left arm and hand, which had recovered to almost normal dexterity before leaving the Royal Infirmary for the Haywood, were now so bad.  He had a number of theories why and wants to see the results of his last CT scan, which was done for and reviewed by the Haywood doctors, and he also wants to get Martin's head back into that 'giant polo tube' for an MRI scan.  He also thinks that some of the headaches that Martin is getting are due to the movement of his brain within the skull cavity.  To deal with this he wants to replace Martin's 'flap' sooner rather than later.  Since the brain should be attached to the skull, he'll do this, with some stitches, to anchor the brain's membrane to the bone (or whatever) that he'll be replacing.  That should stop if moving about so much and hopefully relieve a lot of pain. It seems that Martin is a most interesting case - well he would be wouldn't he - in that his claimed 'much improved' memory is quite unusual - as are some other things.  The consultant wants to keep an eye on how he progresses, which I suppose can be no bad thing. I only got to see him for about an hour tonight as there was work to do at 'the factory' - something that has to be done every month around this time. I was happy to see that three, then another, of his work colleagues had gathered to see him - something that always brings out the best in Martin. As he was already on something of a high anyway he must have been superb with his mates. I left him tucking into a 'Chinese', that Jan had got for him from a nearby take-away, whilst entertaining his guests.

Tuesday 21st June 2005  (the longest day)

As planned we started the day with the expected 'Goal Planning Meeting', where we all sit around a table and review Martin's goals and consider if there should be additional ones.  Everything, it seems, was pointing to a proposed 'release' from Haywood towards the end of this week.  The staff all seemed delighted at his progress, even though his earlier goals had not been met, and were happy to pack him off to our house.  However, after I'd aired my concerns about Martin's general lack of motivation and apparent constant pain, amongst other things, the attendees decided it would be in everyone's interest to put that release date back for at least another couple of weeks.  Besides which there are agencies to contact and steps to be put in place to ensure that Martin gets the all important physiotherapy once he becomes an 'out patient'.  Initially this looked as though it would amount to something less than an hour a week (!!) and would require him to go to Leek or the Haywood to receive it.   Sometime after the meeting a third option came to light which might be a lot better, since it sounds as though they come to you, and you can tailor the requirements to your own goals.  I suspect Martin was not best pleased at the prospects of another couple of weeks at the Haywood, but given his ultimate goal of getting back into his own house once he's fit enough to do so, the extra time 'inside' will give a better foundation for the subsequent exercise and therapy that we hope he'll engage himself in - once he's released to our house.   Tonight he was in fairly good spirits, after this morning that was quite a relief, and he bucked up even more when his regular 'mate' from work visited.  We were also expecting the 'RLG' (Red Lion girls) to call by, but it seems they got dragged off to a meeting with the brewery.  Maybe they'll get to see him soon.  We finally got Martin to bed and left him at about 21:30 - that's 30 minutes after visiting time officially finishes.  In many respects it has been a very long day - well it had to be being the summer solstice and all that other stuff.    Another 'big' day tomorrow as Martin has to go to see his consultant the 'head surgeon' (actually I meant the brain surgeon) to assess how he's doing and perhaps consider timescales for replacing his skull 'flap'.  Watch this space for more information tomorrow.  

Monday 20th June 2005

Jan at the helm tonight.  The last couple of nights have been sweltering and not ideal for a good nights sleep, which made Martin a bit lethargic and restless today.   The morning plans fell by the way side but things picked up after lunch when the expected visitor from Social Services arrived. A lovely lady who asked lots of questions, Martin enjoyed this and livened up considerably and turned on the charm.  The reason for the visit was to find out what benefits Martin is entitled to, and as carers, we can expect.  It seems that providing we meet certain criteria and fill in the most awkward forms every devised (her words) we could be eligible for something but not for 6 months.  This nice lady is sending for said forms and will return to help fill them in as no one but an experienced expert has a hope of completing them satisfactorily.  After she departed Martin and I figured we could just make it to his bank in Leek if we got a move on.  We made it just in time and he sorted out a few banking requirements and I chauffeured him back home for tea,  then back to Haywood making certain that I had his medicines this time.  The gold meeting in the morning should be interesting, we'll let you know tomorrow. 

Sunday 19th June 2005

Today was father's day and I was delighted to receive a couple of really nice cards from the 'kids' (yes I know they're both adults now).  There was also a huge box that contained another 'gift wrapped' box, which contained a set of real 'gucci' barbeque tools.  These were from Martin who somehow had managed to order these up from the 'I want one of those' web site.   Thank you very much.   The rest of the day was - well, it was hotter and stickier than yesterday, so we persuaded Martin that we should go out - not too far - just somewhere local.  We decided we'd go down into the beautiful Consall valley and nature reserve.  We'd struck up a friendship, not long before Martin's accident, with some people from Cheshire, who operate the buffet carriage that can be found adjacent to Consall railway station.   This would be good, because we could all get a drink and renew our acquaintances, and introduce them to Martin whom they'd never met (they have left an entry in his guest book).  Not so good news here I'm afraid, as the railway carriage was all locked up, and on enquiring we discovered that they've had a medical emergency of their own.  So lets hope that you make a speedy recovery and can soon return home and ultimately get back to Consall.   We did get Martin out of the car and up to the station, where we sat for about 10 minutes until the next train passed through.  Moving on we decided to drive a little further to the 'Black Lion' where an incredible sandwich can be purchased - but it was heaving, the hot weather must have brought everyone out in search of their own 'Shangri-La'.   Martin didn't fancy the walk across the river, canal and railway just to queue for ages to get a snack so we elected to to go home and put the father's day present into action.  We called at the Nature Reserve visitors centre though and sampled an ice cream each., enough to give us sufficient nourishment for the short journey home.   As it was now getting on, well into the afternoon, the barbie was ignited and after a short while, and the essential pint of ale, enough was cooked to satisfy the three of us.  We thought we'd eat inside, because it was very humid outside, and we all did justice to my earlier work (which was so much better having used the new fancy tools).  Apologies to any other folk who decided to do  a BBQ later - I recon that the smoke from ours triggered the thunderstorm and torrential downpour that we in the Cheadle area suffered later.  Martin did some more 'on line' chatting, then decided to watch a DVD.  He's not going back to the Haywood tonight, but is taking another day off because the local social worker lady is coming to see him tomorrow.  So we'll not be returning him to the Haywood until about 9 p.m. tomorrow night (Monday). 

Saturday 18th June 2005

Thanks to a minor emergency at the 'factory' this morning, the starter motor is on 'hold' - maybe I will be leaving a DIY kit out for Jan on Monday.  Martin's had a reasonable day at home, and although he didn't want to do anything 'special' he became a bit bored as the day progressed.  Dr Who not only saved the day, but apparently the human race (from the Daleks, some thousands of years in the future).   Mind you, I think the good Doctor had to pay a price for all this, and had a bit of a funny turn at the end of the program.   Martin found it very entertaining and had 'bucked up' a bit by the end.  He still gets a lot of pain in his shoulder and can't easily get any relief from it.  He sits this way then that, leans forward then back, but can only rarely find a position that is comfortable.  Behind the scenes he's had an electronic relocation and can now access his PC much more easily than before, and without denying anyone else access to their PC (Jan was sharing computer desks with Martin before).   My arms are, of course, about 3 inches longer than they were before this exercise - I'd forgotten how heavy his PC was.  I've just heard that tomorrow is likely to be hotter and stickier than today (oh no!) - so we'll try and persuade Martin to go out somewhere and get some fresh air, because its likely to become unbearable inside.  Just need to decide where - it can't be far because he's not travelling too well at the moment - oh and another reason it must be nearby is that I'm 'on call' again for the 'factory'. 

Friday 17th June 2005

Martin is home again this time until Monday evening (Monday potential visitors please note).  He's got to be at here on Monday when the 'Social Services lady' comes along to assess him, this being one of the final requirements that have to be in place before he can be 'set free' from the Haywood.   As most readers of these pages have come to expect, nothing is ever without difficulty, and today Jan's car decided that it wasn't going to start at the hospital when she'd gone to pick him up and got him loaded in.   The starter solenoid was just 'clicking', something that's happened once or twice in the past and can usually be overcome by a little perseverance with the ignition and sometime 'jiggling' of the key to get whatever's stuck to become unstuck.  Anyway today it was having none of it!   Jan called me to see if I could apply some remote 'fluence' on it - but even though I tried really hard, it was not to be.  Martin offered to get out and push - something that was obviously pooh pooh'd  by his Mum, but this gave her an idea.   The car was on level ground but there was a down gradient  just ahead so she got out and pushed, having briefed Martin on the emergency use of the handbrake if called upon to apply it.  Anyway as with all good plans,  it worked and Martin was delivered safely home only slightly later than anticipated.   He told us that he fancied some 'chip shop' chips, accompanied with a non battered 'jumbo' sausage.  So that's what he got.  He also told us how he'd intercepted one of the trainee physios earlier in the day and read the first dozen or so pages of the training book that she was carrying - something along the lines of 'Idiots Guide to Physiotherapy' or 'Big Dummies Guide to Rehab' or as Martin suggested  'Physical Torture' with a secondary title of  'No Pain - No Gain'.  I think she was pretty impressed that he's taken in the part he'd quickly read - or should that read 'I think she was pretty - and she was impressed that he'd taken in the part.....'.  I've no doubt this story will feature in his next meeting with some of his work mates, who've got Martin 'talent spotting' the nurses.  So to this weekend and computers are back on the list of jobs to do, in addition, it would seem, are starter motors.   I've got a spare starter in the garage somewhere - I'm sure I should be able to find it before Monday - just maybe.  If I find the part and get the correct spanners out of my tool kit I should be able to leave them laying about so that Jan can 'crack on' with the maintenance whilst I'm at work next week (who said that!!).  Martin's computer has whirred into life this evening and is likely to be active until he goes back after the weekend.   He's been reading the guestbook and making notes of some email addresses - so you people who haven't seen him for a long time might just be getting an email from him in the not too distant future.  Sorry about the web counter - it seems that I can't count on it at all - some times it works and some times the hosting site seems to be down and it doesn't work at all. 

Thursday 16th June 2005

Today Martin realised another of his ambitions - he went into the hydra-pool and three of the physios had to accompany him in case he got into difficulty.   Most things in life come at a price and this was no different in that by the time they'd finished pushing, pulling and coaxing, Martin was physio'd out.  So by the time Jan got there, which was a little earlier than usual - 'cos she'd been 'up Hanley duck' and saw no point in returning to Cheadle just to turn around and go straight back,  Martin was fairly sore from all this stretching and the like and not in the best of moods.  Although not preceded by a trumpet 'charge', yet absolutely on cue,  three of Martins colleagues arrived and this immediately elevated his overall attitude to a more acceptable and very amenable level.  One of his guests, who visits him very regularly left after about an hour leaving the two girls behind who eventually stayed until 'chucking out' time at 9 p.m.   Martin then wandered down the corridor to the 'boys room' (did I mention he's got a license to walk on his own now), then returned to his bed space and, with a bit of help from his Mum (as usual) settled into bed for the night.   He keeps asking if he can come home for the weekend - I'm not sure why he thinks that perhaps there's some doubt about this.  We will be fetching him, and hopefully the correct tablets and preparations to see him over the period, tomorrow afternoon.  He'll be with us here in Cheadle until Sunday evening, when we have to get him back to the Haywood before (or not very long after) 9 p.m.   He's a couple of things planned, as have we, so exactly  how the weekend will 'pan out' is yet to be seen.   We shall continue to document what happens via this medium (did I recently thank Gina for coming up with the where-with-all to do all this?).  Some new pictures on the guest book base page.

Wednesday 15th June 2005

Today was the day that Martin planned to eat out at a nearby restaurant with some of his friends.  And eat out he did, and the evening was a great success.  We'd arrived earlier at the hospital, to find him fast asleep on his bed.  He'd had a bit of physio attention earlier and this must have tired him out.  Mind you it sounds as though he was quite enjoying the attention he was receiving from the three physio girls who I'll just call the 3 H's.  Apparently they were taking advantage of Martin's condition to train one of the girls.  Anyway, once awake,  we got him up and took him the short drive to the restaurant where, once again, he took centre stage and put on yet another 'An Audience with Martin Dempsey' event.  No-one else got much of an opportunity to get a word in, not that they wanted to you understand, but he was certainly on good form.  He cajoled one of the 'girls' to cut up his lamb joint, into manageable chunks, and did a pretty good job of making it slowly disappear.   The evening was soon gone but I think that all those present were once again amazed at the progress he's displaying.   I look forward to reading on the guestbook some views (at least) of those who were there.   We took him back to his hospital bed and tucked him up, as snug as a bug in a rug.  Tomorrow evening we'll be staying at the Haywood - this information for any one thinking of coming along to see him.  

Tuesday 14th June 2005

Jack is continuing to perform hi-tech surgery on my sad old PC.  It is undergoing a disc drive transplant, this is the second new disc drive in a couple of months so lets hope this one is not rejected by the host. The log will be short tonight simply because there's little to tell.  The one notable event today was when Martin went on a trip to the learning centre across the road and read up on some newly released document from Microsoft.  This was followed by a brief session with the OTs and a little work-out with the physios. A nap in the afternoon took him past 5 o'clock and he refused tea as his stomach ulcers were giving him grief.  He was happy tonight however because he had two visitors from work to keep him entertained.  Just a reminder - Martin is eating at the Moorland Inn tomorrow night and will be delighted to see anyone who comes along. We should be there from 6.30 to 8.30. That's all folks.  

Monday 13th June 2005

Hello, it's Jan writing the log tonight as Jack has been called away on an computer emergency! My computer, which some of you will remember recently crashed and burned, has done a repeat performance - aaarrgh!!  This morning I made quick trip up to Haywood to deliver Martin's medication that I had stupidly left behind when I took him back last night.  I only got to say a brief hello to him as the ward was humming with the Monday morning routines.  Visiting tonight found him well rested mostly due to the 5 hour afternoon nap he'd  just enjoyed.  He reported that he'd done nothing all day.  He attempted to relieve the boredom by reading his current book but being a rather large hard back volume it refused to co-operate and kept closing or slipping out of his hand. Jack passed on some office chit-chat including a comment from one of the lasses about missing the presentation.  "I'm almost glad I missed it as I hate blubbering in public", well I know how she feel 'cos I was there and I did!  Thankfully someone fetched a tissue and a nice man borrowed 20p to get me a cuppa.  Outstanding picture, Martin's favourite, and he is overwhelmed with grateful thanks.  Martin is planning to have his tea out on Wednesday night with some colleagues at the Moorlands just off the Smallthorne roundabouts.  If you were planning on visiting that's where we'll be - so we'll see you there.  Everyone's welcome.    

Sunday 12th June 2005

Best laid plans....  Martin had a poor nights sleep, he couldn't get comfortable and was feeling a bit sick for a lot of the night.  This is a side effect of the tablets he's taking, and specifically the 'gaviscon' he has to take to settle what is diagnosed as stress induced stomach ulcers.  You'd think that these things would, by design, make you feel better, not worse. Anyway all our wonderful plans from yesterday fell by the wayside.  Gina did not get a chance to realise her secret ambition to watch the latest Star Wars movie, nor did the rest of us.  Martin got up late, was a bit tetchy, and didn't really want to or do much all day apart from sit in front of his PC sending MSN messages to some of his friends.  Still we're all entitled to our 'grumpy' days and I see no reason why Martin should not have one occasionally, provided they don't become the 'norm'.   Today he received a guestbook entry from one of the staff on the MIU, who was pleased to see the pictures of him that were taken at the 'factory' on Friday afternoon.  Thanks for your continued interest  - and watch out because Martin's coming along to see you all at the hospital once he's just a bit better and stronger (all those long corridors and stairs and things to contend with).  Jan's just returned from the Haywood having taken him back for the week ahead.  She's angry with herself for leaving his tablets here (a veritable kit of medications).  She's got to take them to the Haywood first thing in the morning.  Meanwhile they've located a few spares to see him 'sorted' overnight.  Gina has arrived back in Lincolnshire and phoned to let us know she's OK - so that's another thing not to worry about.  Martin has been full of it this weekend, about the wonderful print of the 'Monet' painting that his colleagues presented him with.  He's asked me to say a big thank you to you all, so here goes......

thank you all

There - it didn't hurt a bit.  I'm going to hit the sack now as I have to be at work early in the morning.  Don't the weekends go quickly!

Saturday 11th June 2005  

Here I am (Gina) back in sunny Stoke.  Coming home is such a welcome relief from base; uniform and rules and noisy blooming aeroplanes.  I really wish I could have made it to yesterday's presentation (see pictures here), I feel like I know so many of Martin's work colleagues just through this site and I am amazed by their outstanding devotion and steadfast support for him that it would have been nice to meet some more of them in person.  The painting really is beautiful and flawless and so thoughtful.....is there any end to your generosity??  Today was a good day for Martin as we managed to sell his car to a very nice couple from Newcastle (upon Tyne) who look like they will take as much care of this automobile as Martin did.  It went for a very reasonable price, so I figure that the drinks are well and truly on him.......especially since he can't have any.  It also means that I can have the parking space back now in  my parents drive at last.  We're going to the cinema to see StarWars III tomorrow.  I'm secretly quite excited about this but I am a closet fan and will never admit to my friends that I went to see it willingly.  Well I'll sign off for now as it is late, I have a meeting in a galaxy far, far away............ 

Friday 10th June 2005  

Martin was almost kidnapped from the Haywood this afternoon.  I asked Jan to go early to collect him for the weekend because there was some plotting going on at work and they wanted Martin to call in on his way home, so that their plans could come to fruition.  So he was having his afternoon 'nap' and was woken up and rushed into the car, and then whisked to Leek.  I say whisked, but the traffic between Stoke and Leek was bumper to bumper, and Jan actually called me to say she was running a little late.  No problem I said and before you could say 'Jack Robinson' (a few hundred times) they were there.  I'd arranged temporary access for both of them, as it's not normally possible to get beyond the outer door without security passes and the like, and Martin decided he'd tackle the stairs up to his department.  This was a very significant achievement as there are about 20 steps with a landing half way.  He was met by a round of applause as he took the final step up and then approached by a near constant stream of people wishing him well and shaking his hand.  He was lapping it up, and to be fair, pleased (I think) to be back in the familiar territory of the work place.  Both Jan and I were moved by the reception he was receiving - but that was not all he was to receive because, as the whole team finally assembled around us, Martin was formally presented with a reproduction painting by 'Monet' - in fact the same picture that he used as his screen saver for some time.  It was absolutely fantastic and Martin was moved by this wonderful gesture.  For those who don't know, Martin had planned to go to the 'Monet' exhibition, but his accident put an end to those plans.  He'd mentioned how disappointed he was about missing this and he'd also told of one of his favourite paintings.  That's the one they'd ordered a reproduction of, and presented to him today.  He's already thinking deeply about where he should hang it for best effect.   I'm sure that he was briefly lost for words, but soon had re-established himself as the centre of attraction, and was making the most of it.  We finally managed to say our goodbyes, after about an hour, and Martin again took the stairs - this time downwards of course.  Once again he did extremely well and was soon sat in the car and off, in the direction of his house (to check the mail) and then subsequently to Cheadle (our house).   He must have tired himself out with all the walking and climbing, both up and down, that he'd done - not to mention the exercises he'd already done at the Haywood.  I was expecting him to collapse when he got home - but, although he did initially take to the easy chair, it was only for about 20 minutes after which he was wanting to help in the kitchen.  He's been really appreciative of his sister tonight, taking time to look at, and complement her on the condition of her car (her pride and joy).   His shoulder is still quite sore, but he has made a special effort throughout the day to move his left arm about a bit.  I think he's got some plans for me tomorrow so I'd better go and get some sleep now.

Thursday 9th June 2005   

The day started early for Martin with a quick tepid shower and then cereal for breakfast.  Thursday is Doctors rounds and Martin had a few questions lined up to ask him.  He wasn't disappointed as shortly after 10 a.m. the chief doctor arrived accompanied by two others.  If you have read last weeks log you will be aware that Martin underwent several tests last week, so now he was anxious to know the results.  The MIR showed nothing wrong with his shoulder, the EMG showed nothing wrong with the nerves in his arm and the conduction test also came back normal.  Martin was initially disappointed with this because he expected a physical reason for the lack of mobility in his hand and arm, and for all the pain.  However, it turns out that if the tests had shown some damage the likely hood of it being corrected are pretty slim.  The conclusion, and general consensus of opinion, is that the trouble is neurological and as such has every chance of putting itself right.  He is suffering from a fairly common condition called  'post recovery loss of movement'.   Recently he's been having quite severe stomach pains which he's been told are probably small ulcers brought on by stress, so yet another medication has been added to the list.  Martin's itching was the next and last topic for the morning and is thought to be brought on by him getting too warm. Overall the Doctor was very pleased with Martin's progress and I get the feeling that Martin is now feeling a lot happier with things in general.  No time to rest as the physios whisked him away to observe a hydro pool session.  The idea being to see if he could cope with the heat of the pool.  He told me that it was ' very exciting ' not least because he now knows that three of the physiotherapists have to get in the pool with the patient.  The day continued with a march round outside followed by lunch and off to the 'home room' to bake some bread.  The OT's asked Martin to try and concentrate and use his left hand to mix the dough, once started his hand became as he puts it ' possessed by the devil' and stirred so vigorously that the OT's had to dive for protective clothing.  With their pinnies on the bread was made and the fillings put in and then a totally exhausted Martin went back to his ward. That's where I found him at visiting time, not quite asleep but almost.  It wasn't long before five of his work friends arrived bearing gifts, a varied assortment of treats which he will make the most of in the next few days.  In seconds he pulled himself up, put on his shoes and greeted them all enthusiastically showing none of the former fatigue. He was especially pleased to see one visitor who's last visit was in MIU when Martin was only semi aware and looked very ill.  He apologised for not being able to talk to him then but I rather think he has made up for that tonight.  The time sailed passed on a wave of lively conversation punctuated with lots of laughter and some good news for one of the girls who's just returned from her holiday. Congratulations from all of us. Well done!! I shall be fetching  Martin home tomorrow for a busy weekend ahead with lots of outings planned.

Wednesday 8th June 2005

"Here's your table and can I ask you to remove your hat please in the restaurant." says the waitress.  Martin removes his hat and says "Well it is actually covering up, and protecting, my serious head injury."  "Oh! sorry, please put it back on" and she was gone, and rather red faced at that.  If this was a chat up line Martin, it failed totally because we didn't really see her again after that.  So the more astute amongst you will realise that we made it to the restaurant in Alsaga, the one that Martin and his friends have often been to before.  A few of them turned up tonight to offer moral support and also helped with the special offers.  There were some meals that were 2 for the price of 1 on offer, but Jan didn't like my choice and I didn't like hers - but fortunately a couple of Martin's mates were in the same boat so we managed to get 2 times 2 for the price of 1 and everyone was happy.  Martin had a shoulder of lamb - he said he thought he might be able to put the shoulder to good use, but it turned out to be a right shoulder and he needs a left one (nice one Martin).  The meals were good, not too expensive (especially with the special offers) and the surroundings were quite pleasant.  Martin seemed to be getting on fine and Jan and I had remarked how well he was doing in public, when he developed an itching sensation that moved about his body and caused him to shake and squirm quite a bit.  We thought it might be due to the hard seating and soon pass, but it didn't and I decided to take Martin outside as I thought it might perhaps be due to the heat, as it was quite warm inside.  This didn't help much and as he was feeling a bit embarassed about it  I asked if he wanted to sit in the car for a bit, which he did.  I went back in and finished my sweet, made some apologies to those present and went out to the car and sat with him.. The others came out as they finished and bade him farewell and Martin shook their hands and thanked them for coming. I think he wasn't quite so bad as we took him back to the Haywood.  He's going to mention the incident tomorrow, Thursday, as that is the day the doctor does his rounds.  It may be a reaction to some new drugs that they've started Martin on, but I'm not really qualified to speculate about such things.  Martin's had a tip off that there's likely to be a few visitors tomorrow night, Thursday, and is really looking forward to seeing these people.  He has been really good this evening even taking into account his little 'jibber' session.

Tuesday 7th June 2005

We all sat around the table this morning to discuss Martin's progress and what to do next and why.  The bottom line is that there's not much keeping him in hospital at the moment, but due to the continuing pain in his shoulder and the lack of usability of his left arm, the decision is being put off for at least another two weeks.  Then we may discuss discharge dates and outpatient arrangements (not to mention 'local' physios) that will need to be set up to continue with his physical improvements.   Martin was allowed to have his say and re-enforced his feelings that his arm seems to be getting worse rather than better - which no-one at the table was able to comment on.  He's been instructed to speak to the doctor, who'll be on the ward on Thursday.  We'll have to wait until at least then to get the medical opinion on this.  When we returned this evening, as per normal at around  6 pm., we found Martin 'napping' on his bed.  The 'other' Martin (there's two on the ward) indicated that he'd been asleep for 3 hours!!  We waited quietly until he woke up, which he soon did,  where upon he announced that he was really awake and had noted that we weren't there at 6 exactly (we were a few minutes late).  He'd missed his tea but the sandwiches he would have been given were placed in the fridge and brought to him after he woke up.  He wasn't too impressed with them, the ham was very salty and it had flavoured everything else with the salt taste apparently.  Martin then went on to tell us in great detail about a TV program he'd watched the night before about an aircraft accident investigation - which I can tell you (if you did not see it yourself) was one hell of a story.  We were totally engrossed in the events, and that was even though they were being recalled by Martin.  Amazing.  Tomorrow he's out for tea - potential visitors please note!  We're only going a few miles to a place in Alsager that Martin and his friends used to frequent, and where a good meal is to be had.  Some of his friends from work are likely to be there too.  Lets hope it's a success.

Monday 6th June 2005

After the busy weekend we expected Martin to be a bit down today - but hey there was little to suggest that might be the case.  We arrived a tad early tonight, having an appointment with the psychologist at 5 pm.   She wanted to know a lot about Martin, what he was like before the accident and whether we'd noticed any difference in his personality since the accident.   She also discussed various aspects of his condition with us.  The news was generally very encouraging with a couple of minor things that we'd to keep an eye out for.  We were talking quite a while and I think that by the time we finished Martin was a bit twitchy about what we could possibly have been talking about all that time.    One of his work colleagues (a very regular visitor) was with him when we came out  and we were able to reassure Martin  that nothing untoward had been discussed in the meeting.  It seems that Martin and his colleague are planning a night out (!!!!) this Wednesday evening, and Jan and I are both invited too.  There's a place in Alsager that they've been to before, that apparently does legendary food.  Martin fancied going there and his friend too - so they're go to make a mini event out of it.   All we (Jan and I) have to do is convince the staff that Martin can have an evening out (no major problem), and act as taxi service there and back (even less of a problem).  I'm not sure how many other's might be cajoled into coming along but I fancy it will mark a significant point in Martin's road to recovery if there are a few of his friends there.  Of course we'll only be there for the food, any suggestion of alcohol will be met with a definite 'no thanks'.  Anyway, I'm sure that this will be the first of many such excursions.  Tomorrow morning we have another 'gold plan meeting' - that's at the Haywood at 8.15 am. so we may have a better view of the future tomorrow.

Sunday 5th June 2005

We've just got back from the Haywood, having taken Martin back there after his weekend at home.  Gina has also departed back east to Lincolnshire and has called to say she's arrived there safely.  A familiar emptiness has returned to the house, Jan can get to her computer (its in the room where Gina sleeps, and also where Martin's PC has been installed), and there's no queue for the bathroom.  I have to say that Martin seems to have had a tremendous weekend,  not without pain - although he seems to have managed the pain a little better this weekend  One of his 'release' methods seems to be shouting at us.  OK - so after a word 'in his ear' he seemed to settle down and snap out of this pain induced mood.  After yesterday's lazy day we had quite a busy one today.   Gina and I did some car washing and polishing - she likes to keep her car clean and polished - something that must have rubbed off from her dad.   I did two cars this morning, Martin's (which is up for sale, '96 Mercedes C220 elegance, automatic, etc. - sealed bids please), and then mine, whilst Gina waited for the bucket, sponge and hose pipe, before starting on hers.  Then we got ready and went out to look for somewhere to eat lunch. We tried a couple of places but they were rather heaving and eventually finished up at the Travellers Rest at Leekbrook where we had a really good meal.  Martin fancied the 'leg of lamb' as did his Mum, whilst Gina had a medium rare rump steak and I, well you've probably all guessed, settled for the roast beef and Yorkshire pudding.  Martin managed to eat the whole of his meal, even cutting the lamb into manageable sized 'chunks' - all without any assistance whatsoever (and with just one hand).  After dinner we took him home for a couple of hours (that's home to his house), but we had to set some rules:  number 1 - no going up stairs (he's not been passed out on stairs yet and his stairs are particularly tricky), and rule number 2 - obey rule number 1.  Whilst we were there a visitor from High Wycombe came to see him - whom I'd kept up to date as to our whereabouts by text messages throughout the afternoon.  Martin also chatted to his next door neighbours who'd come along to see who was in his house - doing their neighbourhood watch thing.  We had to return to our house for tea, so it was goodbye to his friend and to his house for now, and back to Cheadle.  Martin then spent a little while on the internet, honing those gaming skills I think, before we interrupted him and took him back to the Haywood.  Perhaps we'll do something similar next weekend.

Saturday 4th June 2005

Well I'm back again and this time it has been nearly two weeks since I last saw my brother.  Last night was Martin's first overnight stay and we were worried as to how that would go.  However, all went well and we had a luxurious lie-in till about 9 O'clock.  He did complain that he had been a bit restless during the night, but I think it was fairly minor and he still managed to get some good sleep.  Today was fabulous....... Not because Martin made any huge steps to recovery or of anything particularly interesting, just that we could spend all day at home together as a family without having to go anywhere.  Sounds pretty lazy huh?  We just watched TV and played on the computer, some of us even had afternoon naps - what a great way to spend a day off.  Martin even ate a huge plate of left over BBQ meat (nothing better) and chips which is a good change from the sweets he has been eating so often.  (He is rather partial to those Haribo Starmix selection which I too am rather partial to..........just kidding).  I'm not going to blabber on, we'll let you know if anything happens.  Don't know what Martin's going to say about those pictures though, he hasn't seem them yet.......... I'm just glad they weren't brother and sister pictures otherwise I'd be making for the hills. 

Friday 3rd June 2005

Due to popular demand I've placed a couple of pictures of Martin, when he was much younger, on the guestbook page.  Whilst you're there why not drop a line to him, he now reads them all you know.  I think the pictures I've chosen will meet with Martin's approval - otherwise they may be removed pretty quickly!!   Martin had his MRI scan this morning - he likened it to being passed through the central 'hole' in a tube of polo mints.  He wore headphones for communication and to help block out the noise of the apparatus.  He's quite liable to claustrophobia so decided that he'd close his eyes and go into 'sleep mode' whilst they did the process.  He was woken up by the operator asking him if he was OK after the first pass.  It sounds like an interesting experience.  Martin has considered everything about the equipment and is now an expert on MRI scanners too.  He's a bit disappointed that the nerve testing yesterday didn't flag up some major issue since he'd made up his mind that this was the likely cause of his pain.  On the positive front we are comforted that his nerves are not seriously damaged and as such it may be possible for a complete recovery of his left arm once any physical injuries mend.  Those of you reading this log who live in the local area will probably be aware that there was a thunder storm this afternoon.  It's alright, I can explain everything - Martin expressed a desire for a barbeque with all the usual trimmings. burger, sausage, chicken, steak, etc.  So when we all got home I was despatched to the patio to 'make it happen'.  As I struck the first match I felt a drop of rain, and by the time I'd got the burners all lit it was 'persisting' it down.  Fortunately it blew over fairly quickly and I managed to generate the required amount of charred food to satisfy the many stomachs.  Martin did really well, and I believe he cleared his plate.  He told me later that he'd really enjoyed the whole experience especially the steak which must have seemed like a luxury to him.  He spent a fair amount of time 'chatting' on his computer to his 'ex' girlfriend (who is still an excellent friend to him) and then suddenly, and pretty much as yesterday, he was very tired.  We kept chatting to him until time for his tablets then helped him into bed, where hopefully he'll remain until tomorrow morning.  Full house tonight - I'm not sure I can remember exactly when this was last the case, but we have all offspring 'at home' this weekend - Gina having fought her way through the usual Friday afternoon traffic chaos to be with us.  It seems really nice in a comforting sort of way  - maybe it'll be a different story tomorrow after the early morning bathroom queuing  - which reminds me of one of those little 'fact-lets' that is:-  the definition of a minute rather depend on which side of the bathroom door you're at.  We've nothing specifically planned for tomorrow - we're going to get up and just take it from there.

Thursday 2nd June 2005

Early start for Jan this morning as she was acting as chauffeur for Martin, to take him from Haywood to the Royal Infirmary for his first appointment,  then home to Cheadle for his second appointment and finally, after making him some lunch, whisking him back to Haywood in time for his cookery class.   As if by magic she managed to meet all the deadlines,  no easy task I'll tell you due in part to the parking problems at the NSRI,  and she was able to wind down (ever so slightly) when she got back home mid afternoon.  Then it was back into action to make some tea for me (and her) before we were off to the Haywood once more for visiting.  We chatted for a while with Martin when we got there, and when I said I was going to wander up to the 'Late Shop' (Co-op) on the main road Martin announced that he too would like to do so.  Wow - I was almost taken aback, but as I know he's currently going through a period of what I might call 'itchy feet' we graciously accepted his offer and set about organising 'contingencies'.  Jan acquired a wheel-chair, and told the staff what we were all doing, and I got Martin to his feet and got him heading in the direction of the great outdoors.  The walk to the shops is via an old road that once serviced some wooden huts, they're now demolished but once formed part of the hospital complex, and it winds gently up hill to the main road which it joins some 100 yards from the shop.  Martin powered up the slope, stopping occasionally to take a quick breather, and made it all the way to the top and subsequently to the shop.  Jan followed rather closely behind with the wheel-chair, prepared to place it strategically should Martin's legs start to fail.  Only at one point did she grab at him because he tripped on an uneven paving slab but quickly recovered his balance.  He thought she was a bit too quick to assume he was falling - he was of course in complete control (??) - but anyone else would have done exactly the same in her position.  Anyway when we got to the shop Martin insisted in having a look around the shelves - that looks like a nice piece of meat, those apples look nice, and look at that lovely pizza.  Suddenly and with very little warning he'd run completely out of steam and I had to take him to the wheel-chair and get him into it.  We wheeled him back to the hospital and to his bed.  He was just easing himself from the wheel-chair to his 'big' chair, whilst generally complaining about being totally worn out, when around the corner came two of his workmates (and regular visitors it must be said).  Immediately his attitude changed to the lively, smiling, chatty, joking Martin that endears everyone who comes to see him.  We all had a bit of a laugh and even the staff and the other Martin (another patient in the ward) got involved in this near party atmosphere.  Its absolutely fantastic to see the effect visitors have on him.  Tomorrow he's to go to the 'City' Hospital for an MRI scan - this one will look into his shoulder like no X-ray can.  Once again Jan is earmarked as chauffeur and will have to be at the Haywood bright and early.  After some rather skilful negotiations Jan has convinced the staff that Martin may as well go straight home (here to Cheadle), after his scan, therefore avoiding yet another journey to fetch him later.  As we've received the 'stamp of approval' Martin will be staying over until we return him to the Haywood on Sunday evening.  There have been a couple of enquiries as to whether Martin will be at the hospital over the weekend - well I'm delighted to say NO - as he'll be here with us.

Wednesday 1st June 2005

The guest book is back - hurrah!.  Where to and why it disappeared is a mystery,  but I (Jan) for one am relieved to see its' return. Today I feel like I am Martin's PA as I have spent some time arranging and rearranging various appointments for him. It all started with a phone call from the staff nurse at Haywood informing me that the long awaited (not really long by NHS standards) appointment for the EMG (Electromyography) test had been made.  This is the test that will show if any of the nerves in Martin's left arm are restricted by  the calcification surrounding the many fractures of his shoulder.  Martin believes that is the cause of both the pain and the reduction of mobility in his hand.  His appointment is at North Staffs at 10 a.m. but Martin has another appointment of importance at 11 a.m. at Haywood.  I have been asked to transport him which of course I will gladly undertake.  Martin doesn't travel well, so going in an ambulance is something he actively avoids if he possibly can.  Given the location, layout and parking at North Staffs I find it highly unlikely that  I could be back to Haywood by 11 a.m.  I've skilfully changed the location of the 11am meeting and am keeping my fingers crossed all will go smoothly.   As if that wasn't enough Martin is participating in food preparation as part of his re-hab program. I'll have to have given him his lunch and sent him off to the kitchen with the necessary provisions by 1.30 p.m..  Can it be done?   I'll let you know tomorrow.   Today at 2.30 p.m. two OT's and Martin arrived at our house to do the home environment assessment which will decide whether Martin can stay over night at weekends.  He was put through his paces in all areas, lounge, bathroom, kitchen, bedroom and study (where his computer is).  They installed a shower stool and recommended a grab rail in the bathroom. No problems arose so Martin and the house got their stamp of approval.   Jack and I arrived promptly at 6 p.m. for visiting and before we could sit down Martin told us that an appointment had been made for him to have a M.R.I (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan on Friday morning,  and asked would I please take him there (to 'City' this time). Phew no peace for the w.......ed  they say.  I'd better get some rest in while I can.  Oh, before I go I must mention that Martin had two visitors from 'the factory' and enjoyed chatting on a various subjects but the term XP cropped up rather a lot.

Tuesday 31st May 2005

Writing the log has fallen to me (Jan) tonight as Jack is doing some highly technical stuff on my computer that decided to throw the towel in without the slightest warning, as they do with sickening regularity.    The Red Lion Girls charmed their way in to the ward at lunch time to say a hurried farewell to Martin on their way to the Airport en route to Turkey.  These were the first of a barrage of visitors that came at the more conventional time.  Jack and I arrived at the same time as my nephew and family from way down south. They have 5 year old twins who are lively and inquisitive and ask questions that the rest of dare not ask. For instance  'Why is Martin's head that shape?'.  Martin was completely un-phased and explained why, then joked about being able to scratch his own brain, something that they couldn't do.  His final visitor tonight engaged Martin in lots of 'shop' talk, so you may have guessed he is a work colleague, and a quite senior one at that.  This one happens to share his first name although not his height, and interestingly they're both left handed.  Eventually they touched on other topics like Dr. Who and The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy.  Around 8-ish they all left except Jack and I so Martin was able to tell us the rest of the days events. Firstly, he did not get the injection that he had been anticipating and looking forward to all weekend.  Fortunately his shoulder and arm were not quite as bad today.  Then there was no news about when he will go for the nerve test in his left arm either.  He spoke to the Occupational Therapists (OT's) about some concerns about his eye sight and subsequently he has been recommended for an appointment with the optician. He also took 2 physiotherapists for a walk around the entire outside of the Hospital and tired himself out.. All in all not a bad day today.  He's looking forward to tomorrow because the OT's are bringing him home to our house to see if it is suitable for Martin to have an overnight pass. Let's hope so!  Guestbook still defunct!!!  Nasty email winging its way from me to them (the guestbook providers).

Monday 30th May 2005

Today being a bank holiday meant that we were able to have Martin at home for the day (again) and he once again seemed to make the most of it.  I told him that today he did have to put something in the daily log, so what he did was dictated the following to me as he didn't feel that he could manage the typing single handed.  So here's what he said.  "Mum picked me up this morning and drove me home, where we met my Dad who'd been working at the office for some reason and we all then went to the Warner Village cinema complex at Newcastle to watch 'The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy'. It was 'my treat' and I think that we all enjoyed the film, once we'd got the projectionist to swap to the wide screen lens (people were very tall and thin to start with). It was a personal showing of the film, not by arrangement but due to the fact that there was only the three of us in there. We were able to get the best seats, with the most leg room and wouldn't have annoyed anyone if we'd happened to have some sweets with really noisy wrappers. After the movie we wandered down the main street to the bank so I could get some cash, then we walked back to the car and Dad drove us home. Mum made us all some dinner, whilst I did a little game practice on my computer. After lunch I became very tired and Mum packed me off to bed where I had a good sleep. I'm not really sure why I was so tired, but I slept for nearly 3 hours. When I got up Dad was fast asleep in the chair and Mum was making us some tea. Suddenly and almost without warning it was time to think about returning to the hospital. I got my Dad to type out these words for me, as it would have taken me far too long to do myself.  I've let him do it on my 'technology' (tablet), which the guys at work have borrowed for me - thanks guys.  There's so much to say and so little time to say it, even the thought of saying what I want to is very daunting.   MJD."   Tomorrow is a 'normal' day so Martin will be seeing his therapists and his doctors and hopefully he'll be getting his pain killing injection into his shoulder too.  So it looks like being a busy day for him.  I've also noticed that the 'guestbook' seems to have gone 'awol' for reasons best known to itself.  As this is provided by a third party I've got no idea why this has happened.  Perhaps the server is down for maintenance.  Lets hope it comes back on line soon. JD.

Sunday 29th May 2005

Martin seemed a little more 'at home' today.  We got him from the Haywood at 9-ish this morning and Mum has just disappeared up the drive on her way to take him back there for the night.  Tomorrow will be a repeat performance I guess - lets hope the weather is a bit warmer than today (it was sunny but a cold wind was keeping the temperature down.  How silly of me I can tell you where to check 'our' weather - just finish reading the progress log then look here:-  Cheadle Weather Station).  Martin does still have his painful moments, but I guess that's to be expected until his injuries have got a lot better.  We know he's looking forwards to his shoulder injection later this week (possibly on Tuesday) and I suppose that makes putting up with the current pain a little more manageable.  He's also going to have a nerve conduction test on his arm sometime soon - the test has been requested but we'll have to wait our turn for it.  This test will help identify if any of Martin's nerves are 'compressed' in his shoulder.  If they are, surgery may be required to 'uncompress' them.  This is something that we'll just have to wait and see.  Most of today Martin was sat at his PC or resting in the lounge.  He's downloaded some drivers and patches and goodness knows what, most aimed at assisting him with his online gaming when he's feeling more up to it.  He had planned to write a little passage for inclusion in this text, then he thought he might do a guest book entry, but as sure as night follows day (which it always seems to) we'd run out of time before it had been done.  I'm withholding his cherry coke tomorrow until he's put something here - or at least dictated what he wants us to put here on his behalf.  I've told him that a couple of lines will be acceptable - everyone knows it's not that easy to write an essay on the keyboard with just one hand - god knows that I'm having enough trouble right now with two!!).  Martin's trying to think of something really profound to write - something that will say everything to everybody.  This is one reason why he's not managed it today.  Ok you can go and look at the weather page now.

Saturday 28th May 2005

Happy Birthday Grandma - 85  today.  I did a quick taxi job to Wakefield this morning (OK not so quick) to fetch her, whilst Mum traversed the treacherous Smallthorne roundabouts to pick up Martin from the Haywood, and we all met up at our house in time for a lunchtime meal.  Martin had found time for a late breakfast which he finished about the time I returned with his Grandma.   She was delighted to see him doing so well - but this did not come as a complete surprise because the 'old folks home' where she resides print off this progress log for her on a regular basis.  The purpose of this log has always been to expedite the communication of Martin's progress to everyone who is interested in it, and that includes relatives, friends and colleagues.  I think that generally people have found these logs extremely informative and from our perspective it means that we only have to give the information once - even though it can take a significant effort at the end of each day to produce.  Martin has found the logs to be the source of much information, especially for the period for which he was not conscious.  He'll sometimes read a section from the historical logs or the guestbook and this often inspires him.   He was the same today.  During the afternoon Martin's cousin and partner from Blackpool made a special journey to see both Martin and his Grandma.  They knew that I was going to fetch Grandma, from Wakefield,  by reading yesterdays log and made some hasty plans so that they could join in with all the birthday fun - well we had a cake and some candles and all sang happy birthday.  Martin didn't hold back at all and spoke at length with everyone.  He even thanked his cousin for visiting him in the MIU even though he'd not seen him when he did (he came on the first weekend after the accident - that's day 3 when Martin was definitely out for the count).  Martin knew that he'd been from the logs.  Well done Gina for coming up with the idea for the logs - they're a source of a tremendous amount of information.  I note as I write this that someone is soon to be the 10,000 visitor to these pages.  Drop an entry into the guestbook if you're the one.  Back to Martin, and shoulder pain has still been a bit of a problem today, with the odd periods of obvious discomfort.  Hopefully it won't  get too bad over the bank holiday, when we shall be bringing Martin back here daily.  On Tuesday he's scheduled for another shoulder injection - which hopefully will again suppress the pain, as the last one did.  After my return taxi trip to Wakefield this evening, I'm ready for an injection myself, although I think I'll settle for something in a bottle as a cheap alternative.  Tomorrow Martin has promised to turn to his computer - so I might ask him to write a few words himself onto the log.  You'll have to check back here tomorrow to find out.

Friday 27th May 2005

Hi there, it's Jan writing the log again. This is because Jack, or Jim as some people know him, has been very busy replacing the hand brake cables on his car all day so you could call him a 'Car Jack' (That's supposed to raise a laugh).  The manual had it down as a half hour job, this is only if the parts department supply the correct part and you don't have to waste the whole morning chasing after the right bit.  Martin had just been woken for his tea when I and his close (girl) friend arrived.  It seems he had exhausted himself on a rather long walk and lots of work with the physiotherapists this morning. On Doctor's orders he had gone for a well earned rest in the afternoon.  He talked and ate his tea and then welcomed another visitor, a good friend from work who called in, as he often does.  The two of them got heavily into work conversation so 'us girls' went off and probably upset someone by nearly completing their jigsaw puzzle in the day room.  Martin is, as you can all imagine, looking forward to coming home tomorrow for a day time visit, and although he feels that he is ready to stay over night he's not allowed to yet.  Not only that, he has also expressed a yearning to travel and told us all about the places he'd like to go.  He has a keen interest in mythology and spoke at length with comprehensive knowledge on the subject, so Greek islands are among the top places on his list.  As on so many nights, visiting time was over in what seemed like no time at all, so we bid him good night and left, promising to pick him up first thing in the morning.

Thursday 26th May 2005

After an interview with the doctor we now better understand the processes and procedures that Martin will be subjected to in order to identify the major cause of his physical difficulties.  We are all heartened by the fact that he's had, in the not too distant past, the mobility that we now seek from his left arm.  It seems to be the considered opinion that there is a distinct probability of some nerve damage (or injury) that is being aggravated by the calcification of his bones, this occurring around the areas of fracture and seemingly more of a problem when fractures are accompanied with serious head injuries.  Some more tests are to be carried out, but not until after the bank holiday weekend.  Another injection, into the shoulder, is scheduled for next week also.  Martin seemed to have had a fairly good day today.  He did some cooking as part of his therapy - and he and Mum sampled the fruits of his labour tonight.  He'd made a pizza.  OK he used a ready mix powder for the base, but he was the only one bright enough to keep some of the powder to use on the table (as flour) when rolling out his base.  I'm sure that making a pizza single handed is actually very hard work - so we congratulated him on his efforts and indeed his result.  Mum hasn't collapsed yet so it must have been OK.  His girlfriend travelled up (or should that be down) from London to spend a couple of days with him, and she and a couple of her friends who also know Martin were with him tonight.  We're still planning on bringing him home each day over the bank holiday, and I'm also going to fetch his Grandma, from Wakefield, to see him on her birthday (Saturday) - so that'll be a busy day for us all.

Wednesday 25th May 2005

Gold planning meeting was first thing this morning.  Everyone was there that we expected to be there, including of course Martin.  He was asked how he was getting on with realising the goals he set himself at the first meeting.  He pointed out that he'd achieved some of these within hours of that meeting, but worryingly some of his progress had been rather abruptly reversed.  He pointed out that some things that he could do before he left the Royal Infirmary, he now cannot do.  He demonstrated with his left arm and hand which are significantly less capable now than then.  Martin went on to point out that since he received the injection into his shoulder the pain had been masked considerably and that he could now manipulate his arm a little better.  It was decided to meet again in a couple of weeks to monitor any progress.  It was also decided that there'd be no overnight stays here (Mum and Dads house) until the therapists have carried out another 'on-site' visit, this time bringing Martin along too.  Unfortunately that visit couldn't be scheduled until after the bank holiday weekend - rather scuppering our plans to have him home over this weekend.  'Plan B' has to be employed instead - this will have us shipping him back and forth each day from Haywood to home in the mornings then back again each night.  This should work out OK for him, certainly better than 3 days of boredom.  This plan met with the teams approval.   Mum and I also made an appointment to see the doctor - we'll be discussing Martin's medical progress with him tomorrow.  Visiting tonight was good, Martin was well entertained by a few visitors from work (or should that be the visitors were entertained by Martin).  Everyone seemed to have a good time and generally pleased with his progress.  When they'd all left it was time to turn in, and Martin revealed that he felt that his shoulder pain was returning and potentially worse than it had been before.  We reassured him, and I went and told the 'night nurse' of Martin's concerns and asked him to record this in the diary, so that some action might be taken tomorrow morning by the day staff/doctors.  As indicated earlier we have an appointment to see the doctor tomorrow and this shoulder pain issue will certainly be something that we will raise with him.

Tuesday 24th May 2005

Martin was in much better spirits tonight.  His shoulder although still sore was not as painful as it has been lately.  This is because of the pain killing injection, into the shoulder joint, that he received yesterday.  It's obviously doing what it's supposed to.  Another great revelation was revealed when Martin walked to the day room.  The last few days has seem him extremely 'wobbly' on his feet, at worst dragging his left leg loosely along behind him.  Today he's discovered that if he collects his thoughts and applies maximum concentration he can set off at a fast pace - much to the surprise of whoever is walking with him.  He almost marched to the day room, taking bold strides that suggested a real purpose.  When he arrived there he was obviously mentally drained and took a few moments to recharge his batteries before attempting to do anything else.  He was quite chatty and told us how he feels  and that he'd dearly love to be somewhere else.  Walking in the Derbyshire Dales was suggested and his eyes lit up - yes.  He then said he'd like to do Thailand or Singapore or Tibet even.  I find all this talk of doing these things very encouraging because it shows that he's very serious about getting better.  Gold progress meeting tomorrow first thing - so off to bed now.

Monday 23rd May 2005

The day started with a phone call from Mum to the Haywood - an answer machine message was left as Martin's case worker was not at her desk.   She was trying to set up an appointment with the doctor, to see if we could get some answers into Martin's current backwards trend.  Mum had to leave to go to another appointment, so she left me in charge of the telephone.  Later in the morning we received a return call from the person whom we'd left a message for earlier.  She asked why we wanted to speak to the doctor - so I explained that we wanted to know why Martin was worse now than when he first arrived at the Haywood.  It was admitted that this observation had been raised at the weekly progress review, where she'd been when Mum's call had come through, and that she'd try and make an appointment for us to speak to a doctor as soon as possible.  She took on board all of the points that I raised with her and explained some of the things that were considering doing.  We agreed that something must be done to relieve some of the pain and if possible address some of the developing issues.  Just before lunch, I received another call, this time from one of the doctors on the ward.  He told me he'd been and had a good look at Martin and taken some X-rays but couldn't compare these with previous ones, because Martin's file was sent to the City Hospital when he went for the CT scan last week and they hadn't yet been returned (even after Mum made them promise to send them back immediately).  He also told me he'd given Martin an injection to help with the pain.  I was then able to do what I'd originally planned to do - go to 'Wickes' and purchase a special baseball cap (a 'hard hat') that Martin can wear to protect his head from little 'bumps'.  We took this along this evening when we went to visit, meeting on our way (well in the Haywood car park) Martin's friend with the 'improved vision' (that we talked about yesterday).  Martin was pleased to see us all, particularly liked his 'hard hat' and seemed to be in less pain than of late.  He told us that after our initial telephone conversation this morning, the doctors and nurses seemed to have become mobilised and quizzed him about his current difficulties and his pain.  He told us (we already knew this) that they took him for an X-ray, which they showed him (mainly because he was communicating  with the doctor in 'medical speak') - the doctor thus deciding that Martin would find the pictures interesting - which he did.  Apparently they both agreed that he'd made a pretty good job of smashing his shoulder - this was very clear from the X-ray.  Then he told us that the doctor told him that he wanted to inject some pain killer directly into his shoulder joint.  This would involve using a syringe with a large needle which would have to make contact with the bone.  There was a choice - in from the front using a very long 'big' needle or in from the back using a not so long 'big' needle.  Martin elected for the latter, and said that it was no more unpleasant than other injections he'd received, apart from when it contacted the bone and whilst the contents were being injected.  The result of this was a reduction in pain around his shoulder joint, and a return of some movement that seemed almost impossible yesterday.  Plus, Martin was visibly in a much better frame of mind.  His walking is still very difficult, something that one of the nurses, who'd been away for a while, picked up on straight away.  She said that she'd make a note of it for the doctor's attention tomorrow morning.  After a gloomy and painful weekend it was encouraging to see today's changes.  Let's hope this trend can continue.  

Sunday 22nd May 2005

Martin's still in a lot of pain and almost unable to walk.  We're very worried as Martin's progress seems to have become totally negative.  That is he's worse now than he was when he left ward 23.  We are very worried about this backward trend, and so is Martin.  We keep on mentioning  our concerns to the nursing staff, who seem surprised that he's not as good now as when he started at the Haywood, but the next day its a different set of nurses so the whole 'informing' exercise gets repeated, with no obvious actions being taken to ascertain the reasons.  We have a progress (??) meeting on Wednesday to attend so we shall certainly be asking some meaningful questions there.   Anyway today being Sunday, Martin was pretty much fed up of sitting around in his 'bed space' with nothing else to do, so when we arrived we offered to take him out to tea, later on, if he was up to it.  Just then a work colleague arrived, a regular visitor, one who we knew had been for laser eye surgery recently.  Martin was really pleased to see him and they spent some  time comparing 'notes' on laser treatment procedures (Martin had his eyes successfully laser treated a couple of years ago).  It seems that  all is well with Martin's colleague, the initial effects have now worn off and he's able to get around a bit now.  Some of the people from 'work' who're reading this will be pleased to hear this news - I guess.  Once the visitor left we watched a bit of TV then got Martin onto his feet and eventually walked him to the car.  We drove towards Leek looking for a suitable place to eat, eventually settling for the 'Holly Bush' at Longsdon.  It was clear that Martin was in a lot of pain, and not coping too well with the general background noise - especially loud conversation - but he still managed to put on a brave face and eat all of his meal.  We didn't hang about afterwards but made our way back to the Haywood, where after another period of TV watching, we put Martin to bed and left for the evening.  We hope that the physio-therapists are kind to him in the morning.  Martin will tell them if they step outside the comfort zone. 

Saturday 21st May 2005

A quick check of the calendar reveals that it been just over 11 weeks since the accident.  A lot of things have happened in those weeks.  We've suffered those terrible times in the early days and we've had some good times thrown in occasionally which have helped us all to maintain our sanity.  Today, Martin was allowed 'out' for the day,  something we had all been looking forward to.  We collected him from the Haywood this morning at 9 am., fresh out of the shower,  and returned him this evening at 9 pm., and put him straight to bed.  This morning it became clear from the onset that Martin was in considerable pain, and that was the way he remained for the whole of the day.  He managed to put on a brave face for some of the time at least especially whilst he was checking out his PC, which you may recall I transported from his house to ours a couple of days ago.  Good news was that it worked as prescribed, so I didn't get charged with mishandling it (mind you I was wrestling with it for most of yesterday evening in a bid to ensure it worked perfectly).  He got logged in to his 'outlook' and found a couple of hundred emails, most of which were of the 'junk' variety.  Also he managed to connect to 'work' and had a quick look around, and at his email too, before deciding that it was time for ME to fit the new fan unit he's bought the day before his accident.  So under instruction from 'himself' I pulled and tugged and huffed and puffed and eventually the extra fan unit was fitted to his satisfaction and his machine reassembled.  I know I keep making a point of it but it's a huge piece of kit and to suppress further speculation we weighed it on the bathroom scale - 25Kg!! (that's heavier than the maximum weight of your holiday suitcase - at least on a charter flight).  Martin did lend a hand slightly with the fitting of the fan, and now sports a knuckle wound from one of the edges of the case chassis.  He seemed quite proud of that 'battle scar' although to be fair it was only a scratch.  By the time we returned him this evening he was very tired and having some difficulty in walking.  It seems that he's suffering from pain in his neck, left shoulder, back, left arm, left hip and left leg, which is really giving us cause for concern.  The tablets supplied for the day did little to relieve the pain at all,  instead making him feel rather 'groggy' (tired yet unable to sleep).  We reported to the staff the fact that he'd been so bad today, although I'm not too sure what they'll do about it.  Let's see what tomorrow brings.

Friday 20th May 2005

Jan (mum) at the helm again.  This is mostly because Jack has not seen Martin today, Gina has a weekend pass and is home so she and I went to Haywood alone. Martin was OK with this since he his spending all day Saturday at home with his own computer in which he and his dad are going to install the new super fan Martin bought on the same day he had his accident.  He is very excited about reacquainting himself with his 'baby' as he calls it, that is, if he can access it  because a well meaning close friend set a password on it as protection and we don't know what it is.  I have a feeling that this will not be too much of a problem as I heard Martin whisper something about a back door. The pain Martin is experiencing in his shoulder is spreading and has become almost unbearable and so far the new medication prescribed yesterday hasn't been started, he had little or no sleep last night and in spite of taking all the paracetamol allowed today it has given him very little relief.  Martin walked to and from the day room this evening with an apple in his left hand to practise his grip.  On the journey back to his ward the apple slipped and fell onto the floor (this has happened before) and to our amazement, he proceeded to catch the top of it with his foot and roll it back towards himself, then bend down and pick it up.  Truly amazing and we didn't help at all.  The hi-light of tonight's visit was reading the guest book entries to him,  he was amused and delighted by the recent contributions and tells us to pass on his thanks to everyone.  Today's log is a short one - not much new to report, however tomorrow should provide good stuff  worth writing about.

Thursday 19th May 2005

Today, after work, I collected Martin's computer from his  house and took it to our house.  This is to facilitate the sorting of the 10 weeks of administration outstanding and the secure access to his various online games and email.  Martin had warned me that his PC was particularly heavy - and he was right.  I estimate that my arms are about 3 inches longer now than they were before I lifted his computer from his desk, negotiated the narrow, steep and twisty stair case and then lifted in to the boot of the car.  Then I added another inch or two to my arms when I got home and lifted it to its temporary location next to one of our PC's.  The guys in the office had furnished me with the necessary where-with-all to connect up to the existing keyboard and mouse, so tomorrow's job will be making sure it plugs in and works.  Mind you based on the weight of it I'm worried that it might blow the fuse when I plug it in.  Mum spent some time at the Haywood with Martin today, she was there whilst he was being seen by the psychologist, who'd come over from City Hospital to 'assess' him.  He was given quite a few things to remember and had to call on a few clever techniques to help him do just that.  The questions apparently got harder and harder and some were extremely difficult to do.   I suppose that's what you might expect otherwise there'd be no way of differentiating peoples mental abilities.  Whilst all this mental assessment was going on, the occupational therapists wanted Martin to go to the cooking class (something that was 'on the cards' and that we'd taken some ingredients along for that very purpose).  Martin however was engrossed with the psychologist and found this more meaningful that making scones so he elected to stay put.  This did not go down too well apparently with the 'flour graders' who've now 'yellow carded' him for future sessions.  That means one more refusal and he's out - never ever to make scones - oh dear never mind.  I'm reasonably sure that Martin will lose absolutely no sleep over this threat.  He also saw the doctor today about his acute pain, in his back and shoulder, and has been prescribed some stronger pain killers and some anti-inflammatory drugs that hopefully will help.  A couple of guys from the office came along tonight and we left the three of them to chat amongst themselves for about an hour.  They were still at it when we returned and before long it was time to go.  Lets hope that the new drugs help him to get a peaceful sleep tonight.  Tomorrow is Friday and his sister will be home, and probably writing this log tomorrow evening, based on the changes she's seen since last week.

Wednesday 18th May 2005

Today Martin has been practising his balance.  He's been standing on one leg, hopping, jumping forward and backward and other such things.  He was quite tired by visiting time but he quickly snapped into chatty mode because his manager and a couple of his work mates came along.  He had a lot to say too - not necessarily about work related things, although to be fair there was a lot of techie stuff, but also some talk of his recent weeks that hadn't been discussed with those present.  Once again, as we've seen before, Martin reached across to press the relevant 'button' on the laptop device we were attempting to control (without much success I might add).  How did he know where it was - I do not know.  I've seen more of the thing than Martin and he can still demonstrate a thorough understanding of it.  I think his 'boss' was as impressed as most people are when they've not seen him for a week or two and also amazed about Martin's grasp of his own condition - and how he can accommodate and overcome his current temporary limitations.   We're looking forward to reading, in the guest book, what his visitors thought themselves about Martin's status - so lets hear it guys.  He's making plans for the weekend and getting us mobilised into sorting out his personal computer (from his house) that he wants us to relocate to our house so that he can fully use his email and other stuff.  Don't forget he told me - my computer weighs 35 Kg - that's more than half of Martin's current weight.  We've had to take him a dictionary in, he was most insistent.  I suspect it will be so that he can check up on, and remember, some nice long words in readiness for his next psycho analyst session.  He is still suffering a tremendous amount of pain in his shoulder, which is hardly surprising considering the amount of impact it suffered in the accident.  We suspect that the problems he's having with his left arm maybe nerve related, possibly muscular, or probably a combination of both.  When he walked back from the day-room  at 9 pm. he was carrying an apple in his left hand.  The apple slipped out of his grasp and fell to the floor, which is where we thought Martin was going as he instinctively dived forward and down to retrieve it.  He quickly recovered from this initial lunge and then successfully picked up the apple.  It was impressive stuff - particularly after doing it a second time.  I'm sure that the mending and adjusting processes will continue for a while yet, and based on what I know about his determination, he'll be doing everything in his power to fully recover and lead as normal a life as he possibly can.  He has been motivated by the comments in the guest book, and aware that an awful lot of people are behind him in this quest.  How can he not get there!

Tuesday 17th May 2005

Yesterdays late self inflicted injury, when Martin 'raked' the knuckles of his hand against the edge of his skull, is still giving him some pain.  There's no long term damage thankfully, just a rather red area on his scalp to indicate the line that his hand took as it rubbed heavily against his head.  Tonight he even had a bit of a laugh about it even though he was still suffering from an associated head-ache.  He's been very busy today with psychologists, physiotherapists and occupational therapists.  The psychologist was checking out his memory and his logic processes.  She asked him to do some exercises on paper, not quite 'joining up the dots', but something fairly similar.  Then she asked him how many words he could think of in a minute that started with 'F'.   Martin started... Farm, fast, fold, fan, fix, foot..... then he noted that she was writing down each word he said so he adapted his answers slightly..... fastidious, fermentation, falsification, factorization, flibbertigibbet....  (I'm sure you're getting the idea).  At the end of the minute she was trying to catch up with him.  He sneaked a quick peek at the question paper and saw the next section was 'fruits' and announced - if you're going to ask for 'fruits' next I want to start with 'lychees' - and he did.  I think Martin was being a bit of a naughty boy here.  After the 'mind tests' he did some physio including a 'walk about' in the hospital grounds.  During this walk he noted two half bricks laid on the path and asked - are those bricks there to trip me up?  The nurse said that he'd passed the test by spotting them before he fell over them.  Nice one Martin.  Earlier he'd managed to conjure up some time in the IT training facility, across the road in the library, and guess what he did once he'd logged on, yes he was checking on Compaq's (or HP's) site to get the specification of the computer (tablet) that his colleagues have sent him.  I guess he was making sure it wasn't powered by anything other than an Intel processor.  He's now confirmed that it is Intel and seemed much happier this evening as he continued his evaluation of this computer.  I have to say guys that I think you've scored a great hit with this, he's been telling everyone how powerful, and easy to use, it is.  We read some of the more recent guest book entries to him tonight and he chuckled at the jokes that have been left there.  He then told us a joke that someone told him once and which obviously made a lasting impression......   An Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman went into a pub.  The landlord said "This has to be a joke!"......  We all agreed that was a good one and Martin set a challenge for the person who told him that to leave an entry in the guest book to that effect.  He's told us who it was but can the originator remember?   One of the 'girls' from work came along to visit him, and was astounded at the progress he's made over the last couple of weeks.  They laughed and giggled as they talked about all sorts of things and Martin definitely moved up a gear, as is so often the case when he gets colleagues visiting him. There was also plenty of evidence of that legendary 'sparkle'.   Before we knew it the end of visiting time arrived and we had to beat a hasty retreat, but not before getting Martin in to bed and, of course, bidding him farewell.  No nasty incidents tonight, much to everyone's delight.  As we left Martin he said he'd like to do some reading so we got his book out of the locker and left it with him.   

Monday 16th May 2005

As predicted Martin was in a much better frame of mind today.  He'd been reasonably busy with the various therapists and between times he practiced with the exercises that they'd shown him.  Even when he was sitting talking to us tonight he could be seen moving his left arm and hand in various directions to exercise them.  His shoulder is still giving him a lot of pain, so we try to distract him from this and found that this does seem to help.  First of all I gave him a tablet, no not one that you swallow but the one acquired for him by his work colleagues.  This kept him amused as he explained the 'ins and outs' of this computers facilities.   We then decided to have a game of 'uno' (it's played with special cards), and to make it fair we imposed a 'one hand rule' (the players had to manage their cards with just one hand).   Martin's Auntie and Uncle from 'down South' (Watford area), Mum, me and of course the man himself played the game.  As I'd never majored in card games I had to be coached as to the rules and objectives of the game.  We'd let Martin's Auntie take the first game, and the second game had just been started (in which Martin and I were going to take everyone to the cleaners - I wish!!), when down the corridor came the sound of the 'Red Lion Girls'.   Well the cards were abandoned, well almost that is as a number of 'houses of cards' were created - and destroyed, although not always in that order.  Anyway we all had a good laugh and suddenly with very little warning it was time to go - the end of visiting time.  The 'RLGs' left first then we walked Martin back to his bed, via the 'little room'.  We said our goodbyes and left just Mum to see him finally to bed.   We waited in the car for a while, and when Mum came out of the hospital she was a little upset because Martin had hurt himself whilst removing his T-shirt.  It seems that he'd grated the back of his hand against the edge of his skull, and as I'm sure you can imagine this was extremely painful.  The nursing staff were told and they said they'd keep an eye on him, and reassured us that he'd be OK.  We drove home and called the hospital to see if he'd recovered from the initial pain and distress of this incident.  They said that he'd had a couple of paracetamol tablets and that he was sitting up in bed chomping on an apple.  As this latter act seemed quite normal we're fairly sure that he's OK.  It will serve as a reminder to him that he's still a bit fragile and needs to be very careful no matter what he's doing.  Even the simplest of tasks (removing your T-shirt for instance) can easily lead to painful accidents.

Sunday 15th May 2005

After yesterdays foray away from the hospital, it was perhaps to be expected that Martin would not be on top form today.  He admitted that yesterday did tire him considerably, and he did have a bit of a sleep in this morning, but the lack of any organised activities today has allowed him to become a bit despondent.  We were with him from 2 till 5, then 6 till 9.  During that first time slot we caught up with the end of yesterdays Dr Who which we'd missed whilst he was at home, because we decided to record it and watch it later - but left it too late!  Also during this time he had a visitor from High Wycombe who chatted with him (and us) for about an hour and a half before having to leave for his return trip.  Martin was giving him the 'low down' on his left arm issues and made it perfectly clear he was going to keep 'at it' until it is working properly again.  Before we knew it it was tea time and we left Martin to be fed whilst we went to Asda for a quick snack - or rather we didn't  - it was closed - as it always is in a Sunday at 5pm. - doh!.  Anyway we settled for a tea cake and a drink from the local 'late shop' and by then it was time to return to the hospital.  Martin had eaten something that was too hot for him and believes he's burnt the back of his tracheotomy site - I know, I can't imagine either!!  Anyway this seemed to be aggravated by what we suggested - particularly grapes, they were nice but the grape juice hurt his sore throat.  He even, unusually, replied in the negative when asked by the staff if he wanted a nightcap.  Usually he'd have had a glass (or even a pint) of milk, but today he had nothing.    Anyway we're pretty sure that tomorrow (Monday) should see him in better humour, because he'll have had a busy day with the physiotherapists and will have been doing his exercises.  This evening he got called to be weighed whilst we were still there, and after an apparent immense increase, an allowance was made for the fact that this time he was wearing his fairly heavy (size 15) trainers.  Eventually after weighing the trainers separately and tweaking the figures accordingly the final agreed figure was 63Kg - I've no idea what that is in 'real money' (as my Auntie used to say) but it represents a reasonable increase since last he was weighed.  Tomorrow we're expecting his Auntie and Uncle from North London to be visiting him so we're trying to think of a way of keeping us all 'engaged' for three hours.  Mind you if Martin is 'on form' as he has been of late (today excepted), he'll probably be able to speak continuously for the whole period.

Saturday 14th May 2005

After a really successful, if somewhat tiring, day at home, Martin is now tucked back up in bed at the Haywood.  He's had a wonderful day, chilling out, and catching up with (as he put it) ten weeks of administration.  Sounds pretty terrifying but basically he caught up with some of the little niceties of life, particularly those that fall onto the door mat often contained in buff coloured envelopes.  Anyway the damages weren't that bad - well we'd tried to field any 'bills' that were really important and 'process' them accordingly.  Most important Martin managed to reinstate his DVD supply source, which had been suspended because his old credit card had been replaced with a new one, whilst he's been poorly, and all the details had changed - causing problems with purchases that still used the old card information.  Today Martin's shoulder was very painful, as it was yesterday.  This is obviously cause for concern and the Doctors are monitoring it.  Martin is unable to move his left hand very much at all, except with immense concentration levels - his theory is that the pain level is 'masking' the 'signals' he is sending to his fingers.  One thing he did do though was to investigate some hi-tech hardware that had been sent to him from his colleagues at work.  He was suitably impressed with it I'll tell you.  He also got chance to see first hand the wonderful web site that his sister set up for him all those weeks ago, and which has continued to attract an impressive numbers of hits each day.  The guest book he described as fantastic and seems to be able to remember not just every entry but who wrote each one.   If time had permitted Martin was planning to put his good hand to keyboard and type out a message to thank all of you (and you know who you all are) that continue to encourage him.  He has told me that one way that he can repay everyone is by concentrating fully on his recovery and as such he'll then become 'worthy' of your incredible support.  Typical Martin response that - he's so motivated that I'm pretty sure that no-one will feel that he's let them down.  I'm a bit concerned that tomorrow will be a bit of an anti-climax after today, but I do know he's receiving a close friend visitor from 'down South' and they'll probably have a good natter.  Martin jokingly suggested that as his memory currently seems to be exceptional, that perhaps the neurosurgeon fitted him with some extra memory chips.  I suggested that maybe they'd fitted him with a speech chip - Martin found this funny.

Friday 13th May 2005

An Early start for me (Jan), 9am at Haywood to transport Martin to City for a CT scan. The combination of a car ride and bright sunlight almost instantly made him feel very sick and on top of that he'd woken this morning with his shoulder more painful than it has ever been, and the progress that he'd made with his left hand yesterday undone.  In spite of all that he remained good humoured even when I took a wrong turning and prolonged his discomfort. Ooops!  He had a special visitor this evening who travelled up from London for the weekend, Martin was most pleased to see her and they passed a pleasant evening catching up.  It was 10 pm when we finally got home, but not for us relaxing in front of the box with glass of wine, it's off to the local police station to take a look at the police drawings of the accident that show the path the car took, and how it collided with each obstacle, to where it ended up on the railings. There were also pictures of the bollards, lamp posts and the bus shelter as well as photos of the car taken on the night and afterwards at the storage facility. These pictures remind us of how lucky Martin is not only to have survived but to have made such wonderful progress in his recovery. This prompts me to reiterate the thanks to the growing number of people that have helped in so many ways to aid his recovery.

Thursday 12th May 2005

No clever tactics tonight to keep me from writing this progress log.  It's been a full day with Jan (Mum) spending pretty much all day at the Haywood.  She went this morning for two reasons, the first being to have a chat with the doctor (the rehabilitation consultant) and the second being to help with Martin's physiotherapy (an arrangement that was made at the Gold planning meeting earlier this week).  The chat with the doctor went well, concerns were listened to and medical judgements made, and the meeting was friendly and informative.  Jan then waited for and introduced herself to the therapist as arranged and as planned spent the rest of the time with Martin.  Tonight we went back and arrived about the same time as one of Martin's colleagues.  He'd brought another DVD film which we watched in the day room.  Martin was in good form and managed to crack the plot of the film without too much effort, but still enjoyed it very much.  I know that recently I've been reporting how well Martin is doing, to the point  that I must be starting to sound like a 'stuck record', so I invite those people who've recently been along to see him to put messages onto the 'guest book' to indicate how they found Martin.  This will give people that can't get to see him a less biased view of his current condition.  So lets hear it folks - how did you find him when you came to see him?  Today I've been humbled once more following the conclusion of a certain 'Fat Club' weigh in.  This was the culmination of a special challenge to see who could loose the greater percentage of body weight in the prescribed time.  After the final 'weigh in' this morning the winner, after a celebratory 'brace' of bacon baps, announced that his considerable winning were going straight into Martin's fund (this is something that has been set up at work, the proceeds to go towards anything that Martin might need to help him once he gets out of hospital).   What a fabulous gesture guys - Martin when told of this was suitably 'touched' and asked me to pass on his gratitude personally, which I'll do tomorrow.  I've also been introduced to something that his leaders have acquired - to help him adjust more quickly back to technology - and give him something to evaluate for its usefulness for the future.  More on this later - but before we introduce him to it, we're going to wait until he's home for the day on Saturday (good eh! - we've now got this arranged so please don't turn up at the hospital on Saturday).

Wednesday 11th May 2005

It worked a second time! A quick diversionary tactic by me (Jan) and I'm in the chair again. Today  was Environmental  Inspection day. Martin's coordinator and the Occupational therapist came to our house to find out what Martin  is going to come home to. Access was the first issue and that was easy because fortunately we have a ramp up to the back door already. It was decided all that's required is a couple of hand rails and a shower stool for the bathroom, and one easy chair raised to make it easier/safer for him to get in and out of.   They left after a cuppa and Jack returned to work.  At evening visiting we were dismayed to find out that Martin's "switch" (described in recent logs) had apparently got stuck in the off position. He did not seem  particularly bothered by this, just challenged and even more determined to get his left hand mobilised and operating a computer keyboard.  Before long four of his mates from work came visiting and off we trotted to the day room. Unlike the night before when no one else  could get a word in, Martin listened as well as  spoke.  We chatted and laughed and before we knew it, it was 9 o'clock . The time had just flown by.  We settled Martin down for the night and left him very tired but not too exhausted to investigate, and indeed sample, the sweets he'd been given by his visitors.  These can only help his drive to put some more weight on, which they'll perhaps be checking tomorrow (Thursday). He's not the only one being weighed tomorrow as a certain 'weight loss' competition ends at 9 am. Good luck guys!! I'm going back to Haywood tomorrow morning to meet with his Doctor and to have my first physiotherapy session with Martin.   The idea is that I can work with the physiotherapists and learn some of the techniques so that I can continue with them when Martin comes home. Various checks and test are still being carried out and today the Doctor wanted a blood sample to which Martin willingly complied even showing so much interest and knowledge the the Doc apparently surmised that Martin had a medical background.  On Friday he's going for a CT scan, this will be Martins third one but the first that he will be actually awake for.  He has to go to The City hospital for this but fortunately we are taking him by car -- thus avoiding a ride in an ambulance that would almost certainly make him very travel sick. TTFN - Jan (mum).

Tuesday 10th May 2005

Another first - Martin the after dinner speaker - more on that later.  Earlier today we convened at the Haywood with various therapists to plan a number of goals for the future.  These goals were, to simplify, the specific requirements that Martin wishes to achieve, before he leaves the hospital.  General opinion amongst the nursing staff was that he was already medically fit enough to 'go home' and able to receive any outstanding care as an out patient (a further meeting is planned with the doctor in charge to discuss this).  On the physio therapy 'front' there were some goals that everyone agreed Martin should concentrate on.  These were the common sense ones, such as he should be able to dress, wash and take care of the 'nature calls' with the minimum of help, and be able to walk confidently and stand up and sit down whilst maintain his balance.  All pretty basic stuff and it's clear that he's well on the way to meeting the necessary criteria.  Lastly, occupational therapy, and Martin's goal here is to be able to use both hands on a keyboard, something that is currently frustrating him somewhat.  Many questions were asked including the inevitable 'when can Martin go out for a break from the hospital'.  This referred generally to maybe taking an afternoon or a full day away initially leading to maybe  weekends (or at least overnight stays) at home.  We were a little caught on the hop here because immediately our meeting wound up Martin was wheeled to the car park so that the therapists could see if he could handle the sitting in a car, getting out of a car task.  Well he passed that with flying colours too - so they suggested that we could take him out for an hour or so today.  We were slightly taken back but very pleased and immediately made plans to take him out for tea.  We returned to the hospital a little after 5pm. and transferred Martin to the car.  He was quite comfortable and didn't have any reservations about getting into the car (he could have had a fear of cars after what has happened to him).   We only went about a mile down the road to a 'Brewers Fare' restaurant and Martin walked from the car to the table, negotiating quite a few steps on the way.  We ordered our meals and Martin began demonstrating how he could, if he concentrated 'until his ears nearly start to bleed' (his words - not mine), make his fingers move, even when his shoulder 'switch' (see yesterdays report) was in the 'no move' position.  This was a classic case of mind over matter and required a tremendous amount of concentration to achieve just a small movement.  I may be wrong but when he was concentrating really deeply, I think the lights in the restaurant dimmed.  We all enjoyed our meals and afterwards we took Martin back to the Haywood to find a veritable crowd of people from work who'd come along to see him and found only his 'out to tea' message.  We all sat around a big table in the day room and Martin spoke continuously for what must have been an hour and a half.  Everyone who was there was actually 'gob-smacked' at the progress he'd made in the last week, and here he was recalling and reviewing memories from the past with them all.  No one got a chance to interrupt, it was as if he'd been programmed to speak continuously without covering the same subject twice.  It was really enchanting to see how much he was enjoying being the centre of attention.  Even a colleague who had left Britannia to work in the States turned up to see him and was equally fascinated with his performance.  I'm thinking about hiring him out to do after dinner speaking formally.  Seriously we're planning on having him home for  the day on Saturday, it'll give him a decent break from the hospital.

Monday 9th May 2005

It was only a matter of time before Martin managed to get himself behind a networked PC and be able to access the internet.  Today he achieved just that.  There's a shared IT facility near to the hospital, it's probably part of a nearby library or school (it's very close to both), and its just across Haywood Road from the hospital car park.  Martin talked them into taking him, in a wheelchair, the short distance and letting him him loose on a PC.  He single handedly (well there's quite a bit of truth in that) got himself logged in, first of all to 'play.com' to check his account details and then to (wait for it) 'msdn.com' to check the current status of 'dfs' and whether a service pack was yet available for 'server 2003'.  Amazing that the first session he managed on the internet had him checking on something he was working on at the time of his accident.  OK, but the gratifying bit was that he managed to get his password right first time, and as he admitted himself it's a very complicated one consisting of mixed case letters, numbers and symbols.  He was very pleased with himself for remembering it correctly, and so he should be.  Today he was weighed and it's now on record that he's put on 1.5 Kg in just 3 days.  I bet that those at work taking part in the slimming competition would be pleased to lose weight at that rate, and can appreciate more than most what an achievement that really is.  He's still got a way to go,  but this is more really good news.  He then announced that he'd located a switch that would allow him to control the fingers in his left arm, or not, as the case would be.  He proceeded to demonstrate that 'in this position', no control over his fingers at all (although he thinks he can feel the bones in his hand trying to move), whilst 'if I do this', tada - his fingers can and were being moved, and although not as articulate as his right hand, the movements were a significant improvement over what we've seen of late.  The 'switch' is controlled by a very small movement at his left shoulder.  He explained it as rotating his shoulder blade out slightly to turn on the finger movements and relaxing it back to turn this capability off.   Most fascinating.  He's spoken to the physiotherapists who have come up with a theory as to why this might be happening but I think their theory is slightly at odds with Martin's.  It remains to be seen who is closest to the truth.  Once again this is really good news because it shows that Martin has reasoned and experimented to discover the above, and it will give the medical and physical team something to consider as part of his rehabilitation program planning.  Tomorrow is the 'gold planning meeting' and we have to be at the hospital very early (just after 8 am). This is where we all get together and work out what needs to be done, how to do it, and also to set a series of goals to show that we're getting there.  Martin was checking his alarm as he too has to attend the meeting as he rightly wants to have some say in what will happen to him during the next phase of his recovery.  We'll be better able to put forward some time frames for this phase after the meeting.  Watch this space. 

Sunday 8th May 2005

Today Martin was good humoured and very talkative.  We did have a DVD to watch which had been provided by one of his colleagues for his enjoyment.  This meant that I had to bring my laptop along to play it on as Martin's is just a little down on processor power for such work, and would have been a bit jittery which would have spoilt the enjoyment somewhat.   We chatted for a bit then Gina had to leave to get back to base in good time just in case we get attacked from the east (or the north, or south, or indeed the west).  That was our 'cue' for the movie. The film was Chinese and as such we had to follow the dialogue using the subtitles which Martin coped with reasonably well - he did admit that he's currently not able to read quite as quickly as he used to.  Anyway the film was a great success and afterwards I had to promise to take the DVD back to the person who brought it in and thank him profusely for so doing.   After tea we had a great big chat about what Martin could and couldn't remember about the last 8 weeks.  It seems that the first conscious recollection he had was when he was visited by someone from 'down south', who used to work at Britannia before she got married and left for pastures greener.  This rather surprised me because I do remember the day that she visited and Martin was very sick that day,  She only stayed for a few moments and was gone before I could intercept her for a chat.  However this seems to be the first thing that Martin remembers fully, although he knows that people were talking to him and reassuring him when he was semi conscious.  He remembers that he was desperately anxious at some points and almost panicky, almost to the point that he wanted to scream out loud and yet couldn't - but the sound of us talking to each other and indeed to him was a great comfort to him.  The MIU staff were right - the patients can hear what you saying and their advise was to tell him that he's in hospital, he's safe, that everyone is helping him, and that no one will do anything that isn't in his best interests.   Although we'd done this on many occasions, as well as encouraging him to battle on and win through in the end, we'd no idea until tonight that these words had made any difference what so ever.  But now it seems that the MIU advise was good.  Martin had lots of complex things going on in his head, he was mixing up dreams with reality.   Of course we can remember he thought that he was apparently in Bristol, where they had a Red Lion pub with he same Landlord, staff and German shepherd dogs as the one more local.  He had a small army of little people who he thought he could control but they wouldn't bring him water when he desperately wanted it, so he had to engineer a number of plans to escape to a mythical water fountain near to a TV room that he'd imagined.  Its all very complex but some of the real stuff that happened can be traced into what he was telling us he dreamt.  Spooky or what!!  Tomorrow sees the formulation of physiotherapy plans for the future.  We'll get to discuss these with the relevant people, including of course Martin, on Tuesday at the 'gold planning meeting'. 

Saturday 7th May 2005

Another first today - more on that later though.  Martin was quite chatty, and continued to show off his 'party trick' of blowing 'raspberries' through his tracheotomy hole, which can't be helping it much to heal up - me thinks.  He's almost perfected playing a little tune whilst looking nonchalently in another direction, such that your not actually sure that it's him making the noise - the little tinker.  Today being the weekend there has been no physiotherapy (as such) and Martin has had to practice the little exercises that they've previously recommended for him.  These are to help him get more control over his left arm and specifically his left hand, which seems to have gotten weaker over the last fortnight, rather than, as you would expect, stronger.  He's able to articulate his left thumb a little which he wasn't able to do a couple of days ago - so that's a positive step.  There's some concern about his blood pressure and pulse rate, which drop and increase respectively when he stands up.  This gives him head-aches and dizzy spells, particularly if he stands up quickly.  The jury's still out on these though - they're on about doing some more tests to help them understand what's going on.  Today he sat out for nearly 12 hours - which only a couple of weeks ago would have seemed impossible to him.  He also walked down the corridor to the day room after tea, and after a while walked back to his ward, but did so with only one person walking with him.  As that person was me I was very impressed by his performance, since, although I had my hand between his arm and his body, I did not apply any pressure to hold him or influence his walking at all.  Of course I was poised to grasp him if he started to fall, but that was not necessary.  I did have a little 'moment' when he got to the day room and started to sit down.  He bent his upper body forward in preparation to sit down and almost overbalanced.  I felt the pressure go on as I was holding my hand forward of him at that time.  I did not have to restrain him because he regained control and sat back - whilst commenting that he nearly went over forward.  Today's great first, and the reason for visiting the day room was not to watch Dr Who (we did that on the ward as we'd caught up with the recordings), but was to partake in a 'Chinese take-away'.  Gina had bought a couple of suitable 'dishes' from a nearby Chinese restaurant and, with the nursing staff's permission, Martin, Mum and Gina shared them out and tucked into them.  I kept a safe distance as such food is not to my liking (understatement of the week).   Martin although not having a full portion (well he'd only recently had his tea) said he enjoyed it very much (and appeared to from where I was sitting). So we'll be hoping to do something similar soon.

Friday 6th May 2005

Greetings Earthlings, this is 'The Doctor's' sister writing.  Tonight I arrived with Mum at the hospital just as two of his friends from work pitched up and the four of us descended on him together.  It was just dead on Six o'clock and Martin was door watching as we arrived (phew, we weren't late).  We sat and chewed the fat for a good long time and everything just seemed normal, something that we are not very accustomed to anymore.  Martin made us all laugh with his ability to blow raspberries through his tracheotomy hole, an ability he seems rather proud of - and why not?  I don't know anyone else who can!!  Next we had a go with a device that Mum had bought for him which is like a Playstation controller which has a memory embedded in it of classic games such as Tetris, paperboy and Pac-man.  There are over a hundred of these games stored in the memory and Martin must have had a go of at least twenty of them.  His newspaper throwing skills left a lot to be desired and there were a few dead frogs to be had but he definitely had fun.  His left hand is still rather weak and uncoordinated so it was quite difficult as he was doing all the movement and firing with one hand......only Martin could be so clever.  He had been doing some physiotherapy earlier today with his hands, picking up various objects to see how his hand was coming along.  He can now move his thumb side to side which he had not previously been able to do so he is quite clearly improving.  We also took Martin for a short walk up and down the corridor, Mum supported him and I followed with the chair.  It is the first time he had been walked with only one person to guide him and  he coped superbly.  In fact, mum admitted she didn't have to support any of his weight, just be there in case he needed steadying.  We then sat and watched some Telly and before long it was time to go.  Hopefully he'll get some well earned and well needed rest tonight as he has got a whole six hours of visiting time tomorrow.  That's all for now folks.  "Nanu nanu".

Thursday 5th May 2005

As if to make up for being rather early yesterday, today we were rather late.  It seemed that all 'potteries traffic' wanted to go from Hanley via Smallthorne then on past the Haywood.  The infamous three roundabouts at Smallthorne were causing as much confusion as ever, as motorists questioned who actually painted the arrows on the road and 'what they were on' when they did it.   Expecting to be told off for being late we were very pleased to see that Martin was already entertaining a couple of colleagues from work (girls of course), who had arrived on time (I'm reminded that they were in fact early!).  He'd been running through his repertoire of recent experiences and funny stories, most of which have been covered in these journals already, and only stopped for a few seconds to acknowledge our arrival.  He pretty much talked non-stop for well over an hour.  I took to playing with his 'thinking putty' (that's the remarkable blue plasticine like gunge) and was testing out all of its properties - stretching, rolling up, bouncing - oops it went on a bit of a sortie around the ward and finished up under the other Martin's bed and required a mining expedition to retrieve it, and finally the snapping ability by pulling it apart so quickly that it breaks - and ones elbows fly outwards in opposite directions uncontrollably knocking stuff flying from adjacent table and representing what could best be described as a serious threat to those sitting near to me.  The putty was eventually (and inevitably) confiscated and Martin was allowed to have it for a while.  The girls decided to leave, probably thanking their lucky stars that they hadn't been maimed by the above activity, and Martin asked to see the remaining 'Dr Who' episode we'd got on tape.  So a nice walk to the day room, 45 minutes of Daleks and the like, and then back to his bed.  Martin told us that he's been doing some exercises today, picking things up with his 'bad' arm, and of course the long walk up the corridor to the gymnasium and back afterwards also counted.  He was pretty much worn out by 9 pm and we all agreed he'd had quite a good day.  Although the laptop was taken along this evening it never got aired - but that's OK as Martin had plenty to keep his mind busy and was getting a bit of a headache anyway.  I note from the 'guestbook' that people from the MIU (where Martin spent almost 7 weeks receiving intensive care) are following his progress.  It's very nice of them to leave a message for Martin and he's quite keen to visit them all in due course to thank them personally for the attention he received whilst in their care.   Thanks to you and 'all our readers'.

Wednesday 4th May 2005   

We arrived a little early for tonight's visit and Martin was still tucking into his tea which was salad sandwiches with salad, hardly body  building stuff! However, when we whipped away his tea tray and replaced it with his lap top you could see his eyes light up. We plugged in the power supply, all electrically checked and passed officially by the NHS electrical department, and observed that Martin had not lost his touch! Within seconds of the boot up he had the famous 'Life and Death II' running and promptly diagnosed patients, treated them, ( lost a few)  and sent them on their way. We were not alone either, three of his mates had dropped by and marvelled at this very old DOS computer game.  Martin had that half smile and glint in his eyes as he manoeuvred  the mouse with his right hand as deftly as he formerly could with his left hand. He offered his visitors sweets but two of them cowered and said take them away!  Then each tried to persuade the other to take one.  I have a suspicion a wager maybe involved here!   Martin was seen by the occupational therapist today, questioned and tested. This  information is being gathered all week by a number of specialists to be assessed and evaluated at a case conference to be held on Monday. This will be followed by a further meeting on Tuesday when everyone, including Martin, Jack and I, will be there to formulate a 'Gold plan' as they call it, for Martin. After the visitors had gone and the lap top was put away Jack and I took him for a stroll down the corridor, then a very tired Martin retired for the night. You may have noticed the change in style of tonight's report well I do my best. Jack is now back at work full time and a three hour visit with Martin and a half hour drive either way  is exhausting, so I put in to action a devious little plan, diverted his attention and jumped in before he could argue, so he's having a little relaxation and I've taken over the log.

Tuesday 3rd May 2005

Well it seems as though someone is taking heed of these pages.  Martin tells us that today he had quite a lot of attention and was kept fairly busy being assessed by the various departments under whose care he now falls.  They assessed him showering on his own,  shaving at the mirror in the bathroom,  walked him up the slope (only those who've visited will appreciate what this means), taken him into the gymnasium and carried out some additional assessments on him whilst he was there.  He was full of it tonight and told us of the people who had told him they'd seen him before, when he was on the MIU, and the conversation he'd had with the Doctor who originally assessed him for 'fast tracking' to Heywood.  This was good positive stuff and probably quite coincidental to the telephone conversation his Mum had with the rehabilitation coordinator this morning, when she aired her concerns about the lack of any of these activities.  Lets hope that the evaluation continues and that Martin continues to treat each test as a challenge and does his best to achieve consistently good results.  We took him for a walk to the day room this evening - yes you've probably guessed - for another Dr.Who episode.  We've not reached the episode with the 'daleks' yet but I think that might be the next one.  We'll soon be caught up with the television and maybe able to watch the next one live, if we've seen all the archived ones by the time its on.  After we'd seen the tape we walked back up the corridor to bed, and after the usual 'loo', 'jim-jams' and then into bed, we said goodnight to 'Doc Martin' for the night.  No visitors tonight other than ourselves, although I did see him looking up the corridor a time or two as he heard people arriving to visit other patients.   Tomorrow is another day.  Hopefully we'll get a continuation of what's been started today.

Monday 2nd May 2005 (Bank Holiday)

Today was good.  Martin was a little bit more settled and more chatty than yesterday. There are two Martin's on the ward and, you may recall,  that ours was christened 'MD' (his initials) to differentiate them.  Of course this has developed and now, particularly after him enthusiastically watching 'Dr. Who' on TV, he's become known as 'the doctor', or sometimes even as 'doc martin'.  I think 'the doctor' finds this all very nice actually and enjoys telling people of his new name.  Speaking of 'Dr. Who' we asked Martin if he wanted to see a couple more episodes that Mum had copied to tape.  He did of course, but this was the motivational 'carrot' to get him to walk from his bed to the day room, which is quite a distance (probably 3 to 4 times further than he'd walked before at Haywood).  We arranged this walk for after tea, when we thought the day room would be quieter.  During the afternoon session Martin had a couple of visitors, a colleague from work and his wife, and Martin chatted away to them with much enthusiasm.  He told them the story of the 'scary eyes'  that he'd seen whilst still on ward 23.   He was on his own, it wasn't visiting time, and he was looking around the ward and outside through the window.  Suddenly he became very aware of these really scary staring eyes that he could see through the window.  In fact it wasn't through the window but more properly 'in' the window, and Martin realised that the scary eyes were reflections of his own eyes.  He obviously found the whole episode rather disturbing, but was pleased to demonstrate that although he can still 'do' scary eyes to order, his normal eyes are definitely not scary any more.  When we returned for evening visiting we found him in his chair waiting to go to the day room as previously arranged.   The walk was a great success, the sense of achievement clear for all to see, and the encouragement and congratulations he received were great.  Even some of the other patients were saying how well he was doing.  We all watched two episodes of 'Dr. Who' and by then Martin had some visitors form Leek.  These were the 'Red Lion girls' and once again Martin got the chance to entertain - something that he obviously likes to do judging by the way he engages his visitors in conversation.  By then he was getting quite tired, but when asked did he want to attempt the walk back to his bed he agreed - so walk it was, and he did it kind of 'easy peasy' (well he pretended it was, although I'm sure it was very hard work for him).    Finally once his visitors had left, a quick trip to the loo, then a change into his 'jim-jams' and we tucked him up into bed.   Tomorrow will be difficult for us all as there is no afternoon visiting (Mon-Fri evening visiting only - except bank holidays).  It will be 6 pm in the evening before we can get back to see him.  I hope they keep his mind occupied during the day.

Sunday 1st May 2005

I think Martin must have tired himself out yesterday - he was really on top form then - as today he's been quite sleepy and lethargic for most of the day.  He was asleep when we arrived for visiting this afternoon and we got him up and into his chair so that he could receive his grandma and great aunt who'd been kindly brought down from Yorkshire by my cousin from Goole.  Fortunately the motorway traffic was kind to them, although in common with most 'foreigners' they found the local road signs sadly lacking - they followed a sign for the hospital, but there wasn't one at the next junction where they should have turned, so they went on a magical mystery tour.  Eventually they stopped and asked the way, and after some initial difficulties with the language barrier (yorks verses stoke) they were directed to and arrived at the hospital without losing too much time.  Martin, as ever, was pretty good whilst they were here.  They got a good impression of his recovery so far.  After they left though he became very tired, and troubled with back-ache (which seems to feature a lot at the moment), so we tucked him into bed for a kip, and left for a break once he'd nodded off.  When we returned after tea he was up and fed (salad sandwiches apparently), so we cajoled him into watching an other episode of 'Dr Who' - that Mum had the forethought to save to 'tivo' (then to VHS tape) for him.  So now he's seen the first two episodes and seemed to find them slightly entertaining and rather amusing, so we should be able to show him some more recordings over the next day or two.  I hope he's not getting bored, and that today's lack of shine is purely due to him being tired. I'm going to try to get a laptop in to him to try out, but we have to go through a power supply approval process before any thing electrical and 'from the outside' can be connected to the hospital power points.  Hopefully that won't take too long - but of course we have to wait until after the holiday weekend to instigate this process.  His room mates want to know why he wasn't surrounded with 'birds' today, like he has been most days so far.  I told them that Martin had given them all the day off.

Saturday 30th April 2005

Well it's been another week for me (Gina) and as always I am impressed by the progression that Martin has made.  He is becoming clearer with his speech and is eating food like it is going out of fashion (well mostly sweets anyway as supplied by his friends).  He has been quite bored of late as he has been given nothing to do, and the idea of painting a plant pot does not really appeal?!  We have found that he is reluctant to move around the ward and into the different rooms of the hospital.  We think this is because he is happy to sit where he is without the fear of the unknown.  Today we brought in a copy of the first couple of episodes of Dr. Who and decided for him that he would watch the first one in the TV room.  At first we weren't sure whether the Tape (yes, there are still such things as VCR players) would work, but after some jiggery-pokery by mother we soon got it working.  To our relief it was actually quite good and the three of us (Mum, Dad and Me), plus one of Martin's friends, sat there and watched the whole episode.  Now Martin will hopefully look forward to going to the TV room to watch Dr. Who again and maybe he'll be able to walk there on his own sometime soon.  Martin's distaste to the food supplied has also been addressed and they are going to try and get him canteen food such as burgers and chips (yes please!).  I also witnessed Martin walking today with the support of a couple of people and I was suitably impressed.  He has all the right moves but is just so tall and thin that he hasn't got very good balance.  Martin was on top form today and I can say first hand that Martin definitely had that 'glint' in his eyes.  Keep up the good work Martin!!

Friday 29th April 2005

Today was Martin's first full day in his new surroundings at Haywood Hospital.  We were expecting him to have been kept reasonably busy with physio 'stuff', but in the event apart from a brief walk of a few yards he spent most of the day sitting out in his chair.  He seemed a bit unimpressed by the lack of things to do - but as we are always reminded when we comment on such negative aspects of his progress, it's important that he doesn't run before he can walk.  Presumably it's also important that he doesn't do anything until he's properly learnt to do nothing (although that's probably a bit unkind).  The staff at Haywood are observing and evaluating his needs and when we all get together around the table in about 10 days time they'll have formulated a rehabilitation program for him, and hopefully we'll see some progress soon afterwards.   Gina returned from Lancashire (near Blackpool), where she's been doing a training course on big expensive aircraft engines, and was able to spend the whole of the time with Martin and us this evening.  One of Martin's colleagues also dropped in and spent about an hour or so with us.  It was really quite nice and everyone chatted normally, although we did seem to take up a lot of room around Martin's bed - there's actually not very much room to start with.  At one point I was despatched to the local shop (walking distance - I was directed via the back doors and across the grounds) to get some suitable 'pop' for him to drink.  I came back with a 'spite', a 'cherry coke' and a 'diet coke', the latter being for me.  Martin chose the 'cherry coke', and actually said it tasted OK - so I guess that might indicate that his taste buds are working a bit better (I suppose on reflection it depends on your opinion of the taste of 'cherry coke').  Before we left, Martin did a toilet trip (not literally this time - thank goodness) and then got into bed as he was by then getting quite tired.  As mentioned earlier he'd spent most of the day in the chair - which is certainly better than the brief periods he was  managing this time last week.  Tomorrow is Saturday (I've got my finger on the pulse eh?) and visiting is from 2 till 5 in the afternoon and then from 6 till 9 in the evening.  These times are also true for Sunday and indeed Monday, as it's a bank holiday.  If the weather is fine over the weekend I'm going to try and get Martin into a wheel chair and take him out into the fresh-air for a short while - I'm sure it'll do him good.  Let's see what tomorrow brings.

Thursday 28th April 2005

Hurrah !!  Haywood at last - but not without some up's and down's.   'Up' early this morning for breakfast, still on ward 23, then shower, shave, shampoo, etc.   Transport was booked for 10 am. but no-one was certain the exact time it would turn up - our instructions were to ring to check.  So we rang at 10 and were told that he was currently being transferred to the ambulance that would take him to Haywood.  We decided that we should get our bits and bobs together and set out for Haywood ourselves - no rush though as we didn't want to arrive before Martin did.  When we did get there, the car park was 'heaving' again - yes it was another 'clinic' day.    After about a 10 minute wait a space became available and we parked  up and set off for the ward.  We arrived to find Martin sitting up in a chair, looking slightly worse than we'd expected and rather 'down' - he'd been travel sick on the journey - to be honest this did not surprise us as we suspect it was a combination of apprehension, anxiety and a bit of travel sickness.  Anyway he transferred his breakfast to a sick bag.   Martin was sitting in the chair, in the space where his bed would be expected to be, but apparently 'next day delivery' of his new bed didn't specify a time, so we had to wait for it to arrive.  Dinner arrived next and he tucked into mash potato, carrots and mince, which he ate about two thirds of, then a Yoghurt for afters which was devoured so quickly it hardly touched the sides. Still no bed, and contingency plans are being considered - if Martin gets tired he can use the bed opposite him (there are 6 beds in the room, one is currently vacant) - but  wait a minute  - what was that just went past the door - yes the 'gucci' bed had indeed arrived.  In no time at all it was 'plugged in' to the mains, a crash course on the controls was given to the nursing staff (Martin pretended not to listen), and before you could say 'Jack Robinson' it was made up and ready to accept a rather tired Martin.  Now we know that Martin is not an uncommon name and this was highlighted by the fact that there are two of them on this 6 bed ward at Haywood.   We offered alternative naming suggestions for 'our' Martin - why not 'Demps', doesn't someone at work always call you that.   Martin shook his head 'no' he didn't like that particularly - but the person at work (you know who you are!!) can call him whatever she wants to (do I detect an element of fear here?).  Anyway someone suggested MD - and after yesterdays lecture on 'brain  surgery' this seemed rather fitting until that was the nurses said Managing Director.  Hmmm - Martin seemed to like this label,  He thought for a  moment and said "Managing Director - certainly better than Mad Dog".  So in the period of a couple of days he's gone from 'developer' to 'brain surgeon' to 'Managing Director'.  He seemed to 'buck-up' during evening visiting, specifically when two of the 'girls' from work came to see him.  I think he was pretty much on form and had been sitting out in his chair since before tea.  There is no doubt in our minds that Martin is in his element when he has visitors to entertain.  Later, and after the visitors left, he began  to get quite tired but announced he need to go to the toilet first.  This was arranged and he was guided to the 'little room' by the nurses, who saw him safely there then left him to get on with it.  After a suitable time period  we were aware that they were bringing him back, but what we didn't know is that Martin had fallen to the floor, and he later told us he thought he'd bumped his head in so doing - but not particularly hard.  We told the nurses this - as Martin hadn't told them that he'd bumped his head - and asked them to keep an eye on him tonight.  He was a bit shaken up, although I don't think he's hurt himself - but it's better to be safe than sorry.   They came and checked his blood pressure and asked him if he was OK, and we all emphasised that he should tell the staff if he felt any after effects of his fall.  We left him stretched out in bed (nice that you can do that Martin - thanks Mum), looking rather drowsy.  He didn't want us to go though - he's going to take a couple of days to get settled in to this new environment I guess.  So as I said, it's been a day of up's and down's.

Wednesday 27th April 2005

This morning Jan and I went to Haywood (not by the most direct route it has to be said - but that's another story) to 'meet and greet' with the staff who are going to be looking after Martin's rehabilitation, and also so we could get a look at the facilities they have on offer there.  After a nightmare trying to park, it seems that today was a 'clinic' day, we got in rather late but still managed to get to see all those we should. We also got to make various representation to them on behalf of Martin (good old Mum fighting his corner again).  After explaining that he's 6ft 6ins tall and suffering a bit in his current Ward 23 bed (because the bed is too short) the ward manager said she'd look into getting a longer bed.  Now we'd heard this 'talk' before and all that we'd seen previously had been a 'fudge' with the existing bed with extra foam sections used to make the mattress longer, so imagine our surprise when we were later told that a 'long' bed was on order from the suppliers and was 'next day delivery'.  It remains to be seen if this manifests itself tomorrow.  Martin, as stated yesterday, is getting quite anxious about his move.  Part of his anxiety is the 'unknown' element of where he's going, although we've tried to smooth that out for him as best we can.  Also the last time he was moved, between wards, they used a board to slide him onto from one bed and then slide him off onto the other bed.  What they didn't know or check was that Martin's vertebrae are all very proud down his back, due in part to his loss of weight, and when they slid him from his bed to the board, his back stuck the edge of the board and each of his vertebrae has now got a rather nasty red mark on one side of it.  This was, and is still, very painful.  He's also worried about the journey in the ambulance  - it seems he'll be horizontal and fears he may feel sick.   So with all this in his mind he's been a bit 'crabby' with those nearest and dearest to him today.  Fortunately for everyone he's been absolutely brilliant with visitors, his team leader from work found him in good form, as did another work colleague who popped in to announce the birth of his son, this morning.  Also today the Neurological Consultant under who's care Martin is, came along to see how he was doing.   He began to talk about things they'd done so far and how they would manage the replacement of Martin's 'flap', when the patient (Martin that is) suddenly interrupted and proceeded to explain all the surgical procedures,  pitfalls and  instruments that would be used.  He then went on to explain diagnosis using reflexes and pupil dilation and lots more.  The consultant's, and his junior's, faces were a picture.  There was Martin explaining in seemingly great detail exactly how he would have carried out the procedure that they had recently carried out on him.  He even emphasised that when removing the 'flap' four holes have to be drilled and these have to be irrigated so as to keep the drill cool and not to 'cook' the brain beneath the point of the tool.  The holes can then be joined by cutting between them and a special tool then needs to be used to carefully separate the skull section from the thin membrane which contains the brain and the cranial fluid.  Their  jaws had now nearly reached to floor.  They were fascinated by what Martin was telling them.  They asked him how he knew such intricate details.  Martin explained that he learnt 'brain surgery' from a fairly old (now) computer game that was called 'life and death 2 - brain surgery', which apparently details the treatment of different conditions, including embolism, hematoma, and brain tumour.  You have to diagnose patients correctly and perform increasingly difficult and more advanced procedures to get promoted. The game is much celebrated for its strong emphasis on realism (not surprisingly, since the games designer is a real doctor). The game also boasts high educational value as well, since every time you make mistakes you'll be sent to a classroom to learn what you did wrong. And yes, there IS an end to the game-- it just takes a lot of patience, dozens of successful surgeries, and steady hands.  Martin completed the game.  The consultant by now was searching for his pen and asking Martin to repeat the name of this software so that he could make a note of it and go and track it down on the internet and possibly have a look at it.  Martin was in  absolutely fantastic form whilst he was telling about this.  The whole ward was captivated by him.   It seemed the correct thing to do was to stop him - but we all let him carry on to the conclusion of his story.  The consultant was 'well impressed' too, and left clutching the scribbled note he'd just made.   We left Martin for the evening having cleared out all his stuff from his locker, the ward fridge, and indeed the freezer - so that he had the minimum of 'baggage' to manage during his move to Haywood tomorrow.

Tuesday 26th April 2005

Today came the news that we'd all been waiting for.  We received a phone call from the Haywood Hospital coordinator telling us that she'd spoken to Martin already and told him that he'd be moving to the rehabilitation centre on Thursday.  They said it would be nice if we were around on Thursday to help him settle in quickly to his new environment at Haywood.  They also want to see us tomorrow, on our own, at Haywood to introduce us to the facility and presumably give us some information about what to expect when Martin starts his rehabilitation.  When we visited Martin later he seemed quite pleased with how things had gone earlier.  Apparently he'd had a kind of 'instant' assessment.   He was told to remember a name and address - he'd be asked for it later. They asked for his name, address, date of birth and his Mum and Dads telephone number (but not his own).   Then he was asked to count backwards from 20 and recite the months of the year backwards also.  Finally he was asked to repeat the name and address he'd been given earlier.  How did he get on - well he told us his name and address and our telephone number, counted backwards from 20, then did the months backwards and finally repeated the address he'd been told to remember - and this was four hours later and in front of us.   He'd obviously passed the test with flying colours and this was probably a final requirement for his 'fast track' to Haywood.  He had a bit of back-ache today and this was obviously getting him down a bit, although it didn't stop him eating well - as he has been doing recently.  Maybe there is a little bit of anxiety about the move to Haywood Hospital - it's a major step in Martin's recovery and we've made a big thing about it.  Perhaps on reflection we've built it up so much that he seeing it as a great change - that perhaps frightens him just a little.  I know that he wants to be there and that he's 'going to show them' what he can do - but we must remember (and I think Martin is beginning  to realise) that he's very very weak at the moment.  I know I keep saying this, but it is easy to lose sight of this fact because of all the other fantastic achievements of late.  Thanks to his visitors today, one who brought Martin a wonderful HHGTTG (hitch-hikers guide to the galaxy) book of the original scripts, and a fantastic hand made card.  We've brought the book home for safe keeping and the card will be scanned in and appear in 'Martin's cards' shortly.   Some of the staff hearing that he was leaving the ward on Thursday have been to say goodbye to him, since their shift patterns mean that this is the last time they'll see him.   His auntie and uncle from London were here today - they last saw him before his tracheotomy was removed, which was only 12 days ago  - and they've seen a tremendous improvement.  Keep it up Martin and don't worry about the move.  Familiar faces will be on hand to assist with your adjustment to Haywood.  Note to all please see newly revised visiting times that will take effect following his move. 

Monday 25th April 2005

Food tube gone !!  Hurrah !!  Martin was very pleased to show us that this tube had now been removed.  He was also pleased to announce that removing it did not make him sick, as he anticipated it would, but did admit that it hurt quite a bit.   It was not removing the actual food tube that hurt but the releasing of the clear plastic tube they'd threaded through his nasal passages to anchor it to.   He made us laugh by telling us that first of all they applied some anesthetic spray to his nostrils and to the back of his throat.  This made everything quite numb.  Then they cut the tape that was anchoring the food tube to the clear plastic 'loop' through his nostrils.   Then they started to pull out the tube.  Martin said it was a bit like a Paul Daniels trick in that there seemed to be enough pipe to reach his toes - the more they pulled, the more of it came out.  Then they had to remove the plastic loop, which was made of tubing that was considerably stronger and thicker than the other tube and from what I can tell they had to get hold of one end and just pull it.  This of course meant that the other end had to disappear up the other nostril, around the cartilidge inside his nose and finally out the other nostril.  Martin says it came out with a 'crunch' and a 'pop', and made his eyes water.  The staff advised him to sneeze and blow his nose - you try and stop me replied Martin.  So he's now totally on his own - no external connections to any medical machinery - and starting to build himself up solely by what he eats.  He had a shower this morning and whilst moving the shower head about it swivelled in the opposite direction and sprayed all over a nurse.  Looks like I'm joining you she told him.  Martin was very sorry about the incident but it did make us chuckle a bit.  He then told us that he'd been for a little 'toddle' down the corridor - at least as far as the nurses station and then back to his bed, a total of maybe 20 yards.  This was yet another first - as Martin put it, it was the first time he'd properly bent his knees whilst supporting his weight and was a lot more difficult than standing up, shuffling round and then sitting in a chair (which was his previous most difficult exercise).   Of course he was escorted by two nurses who steadied him and encouraged him throughout.  We were ever so impressed.  Earlier we met  a coordinator who asked if we could be available in the next day or two for someone from Haywood Hospital to speak to us to help plan Martin's rehabilitation.  It seems that during the Haywood 'experience' a single point of contact is appointed who will oversee all of his treatment whilst there.  This person will advise Martin and us on the timetable that they work out for him, and would be the person that we should contact should we have any concerns about any of his treatment.  As we already know, Martin knows that the early days at Haywood will be hard, as they will work him till he's tired, then a bit more, each day.  But he's desperately looking forward to proving to all that he can do this - just as he already has proven with his recovery so far.  He was chatting away today to us and his visitors.  Martin had insisted a birthday card was delivered to a friends party on Friday night and today she came along to visit him and thank him, as receiving a card from him on Friday had made her night.  A couple of the 'Red Lion Girls' came along to cheer him up in the evening, and we all had a good laugh with them.   Martin also entertained one of the nursing staff who used to work on the MIU, but had now moved on to something different, and she told him how impressed everyone on the MIU had been by his progress and determination.  There's one thing that Martin seems to have mastered, and that is determination.  It is this that will see him through his rehabilitation and  back to full health.  Determination = Progress.  Progress = Recovery

Sunday 24th April 2005

This afternoon I (Dad) skipped visiting, but I did know that Mum and Gina were going and that Martin was to get a visitor from High Wycombe.  I had to do some work on the fish pond, and correct 8 weeks of total neglect, a gentle (NOT) reminder of this requirement floated to the surface a couple of days ago.  Fortunately I think that I've managed to save the rest, but the fish that died was one of my favourites and probably worth about £200 (alive!!).  Anyway I got reports that Martin was asleep when they got there but awoke soon after.  He'd had about 3 hours in the chair this morning and was catching up on his sleep, as this still tires him.  This time last week he could only manage 30 minutes max in the chair so that's pretty good progress.  His visitor arrived shortly after he woke and they chatted constantly for most of the afternoon.  By the time I got there with Mum this evening I was expecting him to be worn out after all that chatter, but no he had a good old natter to us too.  He announced that he'd been thinking about his job, and had worked through, in his head, all of his passwords and thinks he knows what they all are.  Same too for all his home accounts, banks, games sites and email, etc.  He asked if we'd brought the newspaper cuttings reporting his accident, and after carefully asking for confirmation that he really wanted to see them, we passed him the folder containing them.  He read the accounts and announced 'a man was freed from the wreckage - this man' pointing at himself, then asked 'how did they know I was from Wetley Rocks?'.  He studied the picture of the car (as can be found under the main page of this site - newspaper article) and asked which way round the car was - he thought he'd seen a steering wheel at what was the back.  When we explained it he got it sorted out and indeed identified the steering wheel where it should be - at the front.   He then waved his hand at us and said he worked something out.  After the accident, and even now, he has some marks on his hand that look like he'd struck a badge in the car, or something similar, that had left a number of distinct characters on his skin.  We've puzzled over the weeks about what these marks were.  Anyway Martin said today that he'd thought about it and the font style, size and spacing suggested to him that it was caused by his bank card.  Seemingly he had his right hand in his pocket, the same pocket the card was in, and something must have bashed the card against the bones in his hand leaving this string of characters behind.  We brought the card along tonight to see if this was a possibility and as Martin had worked out, this certainly looks like it's the reason.  Would you credit it (ooooh!).   He's eating just about anything they bring for him now, except that liver slush.  He confided in us his method.  Rather than ask for things he's familiar with and get a big disappointment, like his coke which tasted awful, he asks for things that he's never had before and just eats them.  If he doesn't know how they should taste he's got nothing to lose - nice one Martin.  He's looking forward to having that 'food tube' removed tomorrow (probably) - well it's not been used now for 48 hours or more, because he's getting sufficient solids in the normal fashion.  He knows that it will not be easy removing it, and is likely to make him violently sick when they actually do it, but he's wanting 'shot of it' now - well its right in the way of his normal eating and has to be negotiated for each mouthful.  I thought today wasn't going to be as good as the most recent days, but I was wrong - he's been 'fan-bloody-tastic'  (thanks to RJ for this word which he used as a response to my text 'Martin speaks'  which I sent him some time ago).  Let's hope tomorrows log will start - food tube gone.

Saturday 23rd April 2005  (St. George's Day!)

Hello folks, it's Gina here again, just in the process of renaming this national holiday to St. Martin's day.  However, if he can't be a saint then he can certainly be a hero and he most definitely is in my eyes.  Martin has to go against everything he finds normal, everything he feels comfortable with and show willing in everything he does.  This involves eating things that he would never have even entertained in the past, such as cheese and onion flan which he had for lunch today.  Even the thought of it turns my stomach......I am definitely not a flan of it (he he).  He is trying to show (and is succeeding) that he can eat and drink properly without the aid of medical intervention.  Martin has already officially advanced onto 'fork mashed' foods and is unofficially munching on grapes, pineapple, apple etc.  Until he has a dieticians 'say so' he can't officially physically eat that stuff, well, what do they know eh Martin?  If all goes well tonight and tomorrow then he should get his feed pipe (currently in his nose) taken out on Monday.  I'm sure Martin won't be sad to see that go.  The nurses have confirmed to us that he is ready to advance to Haywood House and now it is just a case of getting a place there.  Hopefully he won't have to wait too long and it has been hinted that it could be as little as a week.  Of course, we avoid getting our hopes up too much as often, although not of late, we are disappointed.  Martin showed renewed interest today in his accident and he asked who had phoned for the ambulance that night, which we believe was the night watchman on the building site and also possibly the driver of the car he was in.  He also asked us if we had seen the car after the accident and we told him we had not but that we had the newspaper clipping of the night which shows a photo of the scene.  We are going to take it in tomorrow to show him as he has asked to see it.  Martin is very mature and calm about the whole thing and we are sure that it will not upset him too much.  Something we were previously not too sure about was whether Martin could see properly and whether he could read or not.  Although I am not an expert I can verify that he can read the menu the ward pass to him and he can choose what he would like to eat the following day without any help.  I  reckon that means his sight is 'pretty good' (although I don't suppose that's the official term).  It has been another good day and I propose a toast "To Martin's Day!!!'

Friday 22nd April 2005

Today we begin week 8.   I also note that we seem to be fairly consistent in the number of hits on these pages.  We have had approximately 1000 hits per week, and as I write this I see that the total hits so far is just approaching 7000 - a statistic that speaks volumes for the fantastic support and indeed the interest that people have shown regarding Martin's recovery.   The 44 days that Martin occupied an intensive care bed in the MIU has revealed to us all his fantastic inner strength and determination.  He had to fight for his life, particularly in the earlier days, with the help of those fine doctors and nurses, and he won through.  Those who've followed these pages daily will know that there have been good days and some bad days.  Some days were very bad.  We've also seen some very good days, especially of late. Throughout this physical and emotional 'see-saw' struggle we never gave up hope and continued to encourage and praise him, we ourselves 'shored up' by the amount of support you all gave us.  Martin has amazed everyone who has had any experience of his struggle, especially those who were intimate with the extent and severity of his injuries.  Now he's no longer 'critical' (which was his official categorisation until as recently as last week), we can relax ever so slightly and take stock of the next phase of his recovery plan.  You'll all know that the primary requirements are to keep him clear of infection (not always easy in a hospital environment) and to get some 'meat' back on his bones.  Then, and hopefully soon, he'll have to undergo a significant physiotherapy regime at the Haywood House rehabilitation centre.  This establishment is renown locally, most people seem to know someone who's spent some time there, and indeed it has a fine reputation within medical circles.  This will mean lots of extremely hard work and he'll no doubt find himself questioning the wisdom of it all - but we'll continue to support, and praise him throughout.  He'll probably need a lot of encouragement so I would ask you all to help him along the way by leaving motivational  messages on his guest book.  We'll continue to read them to him and, now he can communicate fully with us, we'll feed back anything Martin asks us to.  Today he's told us that he's had a bath!   Now I don't know   about you, but if I'd been restricted my 'pit' for seven weeks with only daily bed baths, the thought of actually submersing my extremities in warm soapy water would be quite appealing.  I think that he too felt better for it, although he did say he was totally worn out afterwards (of course the bath 'run' involved sitting out on a chair, transferring to the bath via a hoist, and the reverse process, so it's no wonder he was a bit 'cream crackered' afterwards).  He proudly announced that we should check the new notice, above his  bed, which we did.  It now states that Martin can have 'fork mashed' food, so that means (I guess) that tomorrow he'll have to mash his own liver!!   I asked if he'd had 'that' puree today and he said no, he's not too sure what it was but he had a good go at eating as much of it as he could.  They sat him out for another hour during the afternoon visiting slot.  He got a bit light headed and dizzy but persevered for about an hour, which is good, before asking to return to his bed.  He received some good coaching from the nursing staff on how to manage the transfer from chair to bed, even though he currently requires a lot of assistance, this advice will be useful when he does this himself.  He seems a bit more at ease in this new side room, there's 3 other chaps in there and they seem to be nice and friendly.  There's also a bit more elbow room, so the cat had better watch out!! (I'll be swinging it round!!).  I've got an evening off tonight, Gina having returned from the East (Lincolnshire) has gone along with Mum for late visiting.  If there are any revelations from tonight, I shall add to this log later.

Thursday 21st April 2005

Another day of leaps and bounds.  Martin has been trying hard to redress the nutritional imbalance and has taken breakfast - some cereal apparently, dinner - something nondescript was supplied after the pureed liver was sent back again!!, and indeed tea - I witnessed him eat a good percentage of this.  Of course he says it all tastes pretty 'naff' - well he hasn't got his taste buds working yet - although he obviously is getting quite skilled at recognising mushed up liver.  I also saw him down a 200 ml helping of cold milk after his tea (via a straw!!!).  So, adding to the staffs 'recorded inputs' all those little extras like 'ice pops', 'calipos' and indeed '7-Up' drinks, and he's started to do quite well I think.  The staff stopped his 'tube food' during the day to encourage him to eat normally, but because of his obvious requirement for loads of  nourishment, they started this up again about 8 pm. and are to leave it going all night.  Visitors this afternoon included those from my (Jack) management structure, who'd come along to check on my condition almost as much as Martin's.  They left impressed, as have most recent visitors (not just by my condition you understand, but primarily by Martin's).  After tea, which Martin 'sat out' for, and after he'd asked to go back to bed we were honoured with a visit from Martin's most recent project manager from work, who came along to see him and also to bring a beautiful bouquet of flowers for Jan - how nice (you can snatch a quick look at these if you check 'martins cards' from the menu.  There's also a picture of Mums infamous 'comms board' there too).  These flowers actually compliment those brought by some good friends from Leek (the 'Red Lion girls' as we affectionately call them).  Another of Martin's friends popped in and helped cheer him up a bit (well he also gave him some not so good news about Haywood - he mentioned all that hard work).  Anyway Martin knows that he will have to work really hard to get himself up and mobile again, so this really didn't come as a great surprise to him.  As we were about to leave tonight there were mutterings that he might be moved out of the HDU cell and into another 'normal' room.  This move took place after we left the hospital - it was confirmed in a telephone call we made about 10.30 pm.  This is really good news because its another major step in the right direction.  Lets hope that there is a bit more room where they've moved him to, as it would have been difficult in the HDU, should we have had the urge that is, to swing the proverbial 'cat'.   We hope that Martin will be happier in this new room - he never really settled in to the HDU.   He's not moved far, just across the corridor from where he last was, so it should be easy to find him.  Let's hope that he has a decent night.

Wednesday 20th April 2005

Martin was sitting out when we arrived this afternoon.  He found it really hard work to stand up, turn slightly and lower himself into the arm chair.  He didn't want to stay there, in the chair, but was cajoled into sitting quietly whilst a visitor from London came in to see him.  It was the first time that Martin had been particularly 'with it' during any  of  this person's visits, he usually finding him either asleep or very drowsy.  They had a good talk and Martin asked if his visitor was OK and specifically if his leg was now alright, which goes to show that Martin has remembered this fact and wanted to check it out. Anyway his visitor had to leave as he had an important appointment elsewhere, but he was replaced by another visitor who had seen Martin only once before and was amazed at the progress he had made.  It was rapidly approaching the end of afternoon visiting time and we'd heard that the Doctor who does the assessments for Haywood House was (as Elvis would say) in the building.  Martin had been referred for consideration to this highly recommended rehabilitation centre, and we understood that the earliest he could be seen would be Friday - but the ward staff asked if Martin could be assessed today.  This worried us slightly because Martin would, based on his current rate of improvement, be much better on Friday than today - but we jumped at the opportunity of having an early assessment, as the last thing we want is Martin sitting around and getting bored.  The Doctor came along to Martin's bed and studied his notes for a few minutes.  He then turned to Martin and said hello.  Martin immediately offered his right hand to 'shake hands' and indeed the greeting was formally accepted and executed.  The Doctor introduced himself and Martin was then asked a few questions.  He was asked how his left arm was coming along, and Martin rapidly exposed both arms and waggled his fingers to demonstrate his dexterity.  And the left leg?   Martin's legs were both seen to move under the sheets like he was riding a bike.  More questions were asked about his date of birth, where he lived and where he worked.  Then Martin was asked if he new what date it was - Mum and I both wanted to look desperately at our watches - but by then Martin had got the right day and then, when asked, the right month.  He certainly seemed to impress with his answers, so much so that he's been recommended to 'fast track' through to Haywood House.  It is quite clear that Martin desperately   wants to progress, and those of us who know him well can appreciate that he will quickly become frustrated if he can't move forward at (at least) his pace.  I think back to something someone mentioned in the guest book about impressing those in authority and honestly believe  that Martin did just that today.  We tend to forget how physically weak he has become, and these pages cannot really describe the difficulty he currently has in doing the simplest of exercises - but I'm sure that given a carefully monitored rehabilitation regime he can be brought back to full strength in the (shortest!!) fullness of time.  Martin had a late meal at tea time - he'd been overlooked on the original delivery.  He ate quite a bit of it too, more than I thought he would.  I think he's working very hard to try and get himself strong.  Before we left for the evening we ordered up his meal for tomorrow in the hope that he receives what he's actually ordered, unlike today's ordered vegetable bake and mashed potato, which turned out to be liver puree.  Another very good day, and a very special hello from Martin to his grandma in Wakefield, and to all his other relatives and friends.

Tuesday 19th April 2005

When we telephoned this morning to check on his progress we were told he was 'sitting out' in an armchair and drinking juice - courtesy of the physiotherapists and would be returning to bed soon as he was already quite warn out.  We also heard that Martin had been put on a saline drip because they thought he was dehydrated - must be something to do with all those drinks they stopped him having yesterday.  He'd also gone onto a concentrated food, which by definition must contain less water - so that must be partly to blame too.  We arrived this afternoon to find Martin tucked up in bed, and really quite tired - must have been all that sitting down in the armchair (I've been trying to tell Jan for years how much it takes out of you doing this, but she still won't believe me).  Anyway rather like sleeping beauty we left him to catch up on all those zzzzzzz's that he's not been able to do while his voice has been missing.  During this  big sleep he had some visitors from work who spent a few minutes each with him but didn't wake him.  Thinking that he'd eventually wake up and think that no one had been near him, Mum left a large note to the effect 'we were here - Mum, Dad and Ray' and adjourned for the 4 till 6 break.  Well actually we managed to snatch a last minute interview with Martin's consultant who gave us much encouragement about Martin's future and took on board some potential 'opportunities' that we introduced to the discussion.  We are desperately worried that if Martin's progress continues at the recent pace, he'll be ready to move on to rehabilitation and may have to wait on the ward for some weeks for a vacancy at Haywood House (the 'rehab' centre).  This 'marking time' would not suit Martin and would probably have a negative effect on his recovery.  Anyway we have a number of options for this projected period and everyone agreed that we should try and find a solution that was the best for Martin.  After tea we returned to the hospital and Martin was awake, had read his Mums note, and was feeling quite chatty, which was just as well as he had a few important visitors who came along to be impressed by Martin's progress and were definitely not disappointed.  He also had an interview by a nice young policeman, who came along to ascertain what, if anything, Martin could remember of that evening and the accident.  The PC spent some time chatting with Martin and occasionally dropped a relevant question into the conversation.  It seems that Martin remembers nothing at all of that evening, but was able to answer questions on his job and other things and even previous 'tribute bands' nights out.  We have been told that in similar situations people usually have a 'mental blockage' of their accidents, so Martin is not unusual in this respect.  He's started trying some liquid foods - he tried some hospital tomato soup, but pulled an awful face.  I asked him if he knew what it tasted of - he nodded.  Can you tell me, or is it something that you shouldn't say.  He said he could tell.  So what does it taste like - I asked.   Tomato soup he said.  Nice one Martin.  Behind the scenes much progress is being made in trying to acquire the necessary extra bits to make his bed more acommodating.  It was very clear that today's staff have grasped the nettle and have listed out a 'to do' list to make Martin more comfortable.  This effort has not gone unnoticed.

Monday 18th April 2005   

The new surroundings are seemingly not to Martin's liking.  It could, of course, be something to do with the fact that all fluids had been withdrawn from him overnight (so had the remote control for the bed).  Whatever the reason we arrived at 2 pm. visiting time (or shortly after due to staff handover) to find a very withdrawn young man, quite despondent and staring into oblivion.  He also had 'the shakes' and didn't look particularly well (something of an understatement).  Mum had brought along some frozen things, a few fruity ice sticks and a 'sun lolly'.  After uttering something 'direct and to the point' to the staff, regarding Martin's condition (most of which is not printable here), she offered up these items to him.  He pounced on and consumed within seconds two fruity ice sticks then gnawed his way through the 'sun lolly' (my teeth are now on edge as I can't imagine being able to bite ice), and was just starting on his third ice stick when the 'ward police' pounced on us and told us that Martin was not to eat or drink anything, until he'd had a 'swallow assessment'.  Excuse us we argued - before he left the MIU he was 'written up' as being allowed to try solids on top of the liquids he'd already been cleared for - check his notes.  Martin nodded in agreement.  But this was not good enough apparently as a 'swallow assessment' would have to be done before the staff on this ward could possibly allow him to swallow anything.  Here we go - a 'lively' discussion took place between us and a trainee dietician, who to be fair kept her cool and maintained the official line.  So when could this assessment take place - this was not ever so clear but apparently they'd applied a couple of days ago for it (????).  Eventually after more 'heated debate' an undertaking was made to expedite the assessment, a phone call would be placed soon to do this.  So after a number of prompts the phone call was indeed made and someone came along to carry out the assessment.  We were asked to leave, presumably witnessing someone swallow is likely to traumatise us, then after a couple of minutes were invited back to Martin's bedside.  It seems he passed most of the tests and can now officially swallow from 'sports cap' type bottles, from a teaspoon, but not from a cup.  It seems no straw was available so drinking using one is currently not allowed.  By now it was the end of afternoon visiting, in fact we'd stayed on a while after it finished but were allowed back to say our goodbyes to Martin.   When we returned after our now reduced break time we found Martin ever so slightly better, but very tired.  He didn't sleep too well last night (strange bed, strange room, strange people) so we encouraged him to snatch some 'kip'.   He's very uncomfortable in his 'standard' bed as his feet hang out from the foot of it.  One of the nurses tried to make things better by placing a table at the end for him to rest his feet on - but she was only able to put a towel on it as a cushion and I'm not sure that Martin found it any better at all.   During the day we did also manage to entertain a couple of visitors, and his former fiance also returned from London to spend some time with him.  As stated previously there's a chance that Martin could qualify for rehabilitation at the Haywood House centre, we're hoping that he won't have to spend too much time on this ward, as we've already seen a significant amount of momentum lost over the last 36 hours.  Hang in there mate - don't let them grind you down!!!

Sunday 17th April 2005

After the excitement of the last 2 or 3 days (if you haven't yet read the logs for Friday and Saturday I suggest you click on 'previous logs' (below) and read them now), it's going to be hard to follow.  Gina has departed back to Lincolnshire to help protect us all from airborne threats, leaving me (Dad/Jack/Jim/James - delete as applicable) to write up the days events in this log.   The morning was normal, in the sense that I arrived reasonably early at the hospital and kept Martin amused, acting as his 'gofer', whilst the medical team discussed whether they should move him to another ward or not.  To be fair they'd started discussing this yesterday. Martin had been listening intently whilst they were suggesting that he could move to Ward 23 in the near future.  He looked rather worried for a while and using his new found but somewhat weak voice asked me "How will I be able to get to Ward 23", whilst waving his muscle wasted arms and legs as if to highlight his difficulty of achieving such a move.  I told him not to worry, that he didn't have to make his own way there, that they'd take him on a bed and swap him over to another either before they begin or once they get there.  This seemed to put him at ease a bit - I think he'd been worried that as he couldn't sit out on the edge of his bed, without getting dizzy, the walk down the corridor would be impossible for him.   So back to  today and the Doctors were again suggesting that he could leave the MIU and move to Ward 23 (HDU)  - but it seemed that the final decision was with the Consultant/Doctors on Ward 23, and they were currently wrapped up doing their rounds.  Anyway Mum and Gina were warned that a move was on the cards and they decided to expedite their arrival at the hospital so as to see him before any move took place.  Jan's brother and his wife and son, from the Isle of Man, also arrived at around this time and were being briefed on Martin's latest status.  Anyway, all of a sudden, and with only a few minutes notice porters arrived to move Martin.  This was a bit of a false start because they didn't bring a bed along to take him on, so they did a quick 'back to the drawing board' and returned a few minutes later with one.  Shock horror, the bed from Ward 23 is a standard length, non adjustable version (unlike the 'gucci' beds on the MIU which can adjust for the 'longer client').   Martin would just have to leave the lower parts of his legs protruding beyond the edge of the mattress (the bed footboard was removed to facilitate this).  It was now about 12:30 and Martin was on the move.  We intercepted the 'bed push' as they waited for the lift, and being already well aware of the restricted visiting on Ward 23 we told Martin that we'd see him at 2 pm., the start of visiting time, which should allow him a little time to get settled in on the ward.  With that we dashed off to get some lunch at a pub in the thriving metropolis called Hartshill.  Mum rushed her food down and departed for the hospital leaving me to sort out the bill for the dinner - nice one Jan.  Anyway we 'fellas' did a 50/50 job on the 'bill' and then also returned to the hospital.  It was at this time that we found out that although the 'official' visiting period is from 2 till 4 in the afternoon, the nursing staff also do a shift change/hand over that also starts at 2 pm.  This results in all relatives being kept out of the ward for up to 30 minutes until the handover is complete (this is to protect patient confidentiality - a phrase that seems to feature greatly in day to day events on the ward).  Not only that,  but at 15:55 a rather innocuous bell rings to signal the end of visiting time - or shall we say nearly the end!!   Anyway we then had to leave Martin and return later at 18:00 for a second (or should that be a first) 2 hour visiting slot.  After the 'open' visiting and the 'total' and intensive care regime of the MIU, the first impression of the new ward was a little like walking down a jet plane and going from '1st class' into 'coach'.  However Martin seemed to adjust fairly quickly to his new surroundings and the staff seemed to be friendly enough so we'll just have to put first impressions behind us for the time being and see how it goes.  There may even be a opportunity for Martin to 'fast track' through to 're-hab' (which is likely to take him to 'Haywood Hospital' at Burslem - which seems to have an excellent reputation).

Saturday 16th April 2005

If anyone had asked me this morning what today meant to me (Gina), I would have just said it was just another day on the road to Martin's recovery.  Mum and I arrived fairly late to the hospital as I had to replace some 'barely legal' tyres on my car, quite an important task and one I was not allowed to forget about.  We got reports from the hospital via Dad that Martin had has his 'Swedish Nose' fitted.  None the wiser to what an earth this meant we trundled into the hospital and immediately got in to see Martin.  Instead of an awkward, ill-fitting mask over the end of his 'trachy', connected by tubes to his ventilator, Martin had a discrete and neat little round filter attached to the tube right at his throat.  This was far more comfortable to Martin, but more importantly it meant that he was breathing normal air, unaided and was still getting the required amount of oxygen to his lungs - fantastic.  Whenever he needed to cough he could just pop it off himself and suction away anything that came out of the hole.  What's more is that it meant that once he had gotten used to this, that he would be ready to have the tracheotomy taken out completely.  Of course you never know how things are going to work out and how soon this eventuality would come, but it was at least something we could tell Martin, a glimmer of hope, something to look forward to.  As I had not seen Martin for five days, to me, his improvement was terrific and I was amazed at how adept he was at using his comms board and at how patient he was with us.  I started reading some of the guestbook entries to him that I thought he would really like to hear and each time asking him if he remembers the person who left the message (to this he always answered yes, unless it was one of the messages left by a friendly stranger).  I read a couple then asked if he would like to hear any more.  A definite yes!  I must have stood there for the best part of half an hour reading nearly every entry of the guestbook, sometimes barely able to speak through my arising tears, but always so in awed at the way he sat there  listening intently, spellbound and was obviously touched by all the wonderful messages you have left.  I told him that there were some recent ones that I didn't have and I'd promise to bring them with me after quiet time.  During the day we tried Martin on several foods and drinks (mostly cold drinks or ice) but nothing we could find really tasted any good.  One request he made, which had to be spelled out for us, was 'Slush Puppy!', 'where an earth are we to find a slush puppy we asked?'......'Cinema.' he replied.  'What flavour would you like Martin?' ...... 'Blue.'  So at lunch time hand over we made a special journey to the depths of festival park and came back with one blue slush puppy.  It was gratefully received but maybe not quite as he had hoped and after all that he only had one sip.  He did say that it was fairly alright, that was more than enough for us, if he asked us to go to Atlantis to pick up a chocolate flavoured pizza we would try our best to come up trumps.   It had truly been a fantastic day so far and couldn't possibly get any better.  Or could it?......

After 'Quiet time' we returned.  Having promised to be back by 19:15 we were met with a rather stern face of Martin pointing to where he would wear his watch mouthing 'What time is it?'  It was 19:30 and we were late!  We apologised profusely saying we were delayed in traffic and we were sorry.  Just then a slightly strange voice said 'You said you'd be here at Seven!!'  Who said that?.... Yes..... 'HE' SPOKE!!!!!  I really can't possibly describe all the emotions that went through me and my Mum and Dad at that moment so I won't.....I think you can all imagine.  He'd been planning this joke for us with the nurses all along and they were all in on it.  They'd removed the tracheotomy 'hardware' whilst we were away and he'd then planned what he was going to do.  He wasn't really mad about us being late, he just wanted to surprise us, and he did, unbelievably.  He then asked me if I'd brought more Guestbook comments and I had, and I read them to him.  He told me that he wanted me to say Thank you from him to all the people who have written messages and he also expressed that he really would like visitors to come and see him.  He said that he hoped that now he was speaking, more people would want to see him.  I can't tell you how proud we all are of him and if this hasn't brought a tear to your eye reading this, then you can borrow one of mine that I have shed while writing this.  Now if someone asks me what today meant to me, I would say it was the best day I'd had in a long time and a truly momentous day for Martin.

Friday 15th April 2005

The start of the seventh week, and what's been another brilliant day.  I'm almost reluctant to say so for fear of putting 'the mockers' on this trend.  When I got to see him this morning, after Doctor's rounds and his wash, he announced in no uncertain terms that he was hungry - very hungry.  This was quite encouraging as Martin is rarely hungry normally, so the fact that he was desperate for something to eat was incredible.  This time we checked with the Doctor who said that he could have liquid things, ice-cream, yoghurt, etc.  Martin's eyes  lit up at the suggestion of ice-cream and he didn't turn his nose up at the yoghurt suggestion either.  Someone was despatched to the hospital kitchen to acquire these items.  Martin was due for another X-ray to monitor his chest, and we were telling the Doctor that he'd recently (2 years ago) had a chest X-ray following a fall in which it was thought he may have fractured his scapular (shoulder).  It might be possible to compare the the plate from 2 years ago to that taken recently we thought.   So the Doctor quizzed Martin - how long ago, did they X-ray your chest,  was it done here ?   I noticed that in response to the last question Martin mouthed 'North Staffs', which I thought very strange.  So afterwards, when it got a little quieter, I asked Martin where he thought he was.  In hospital - no problems there.  Where I asked.  He looked a little unsure and mouthed something I couldn't grasp.  Out with the 'comms board' - and Martin selected the letters........'bristol'.  Do you think you're in hospital in 'bristol' I asked - and yes he did.  Thinking back we've told him on numerous occasions that he was in hospital and in a special intensive care unit for people with multiple injuries - but we'd never told him he was in 'North Staffs'.  He seemed quite surprised when we cleared this up, and we all had a little chuckle about it later.   Anyway his mug of milk, yoghurt pot and ice-cream had arrived from the kitchen and Martin was definitely into setting about them.  He started with the milk, sucking up some from the mug via a straw.  He pulled a funny face and announced that the milk was off!!   So onto the yoghurt, which I think was rasberry or strawberry flavoured.   That too was rejected as being awful, as was the ice cream.   Then we knew that a warning we'd received a while ago from  one of the Doctors, we were now facing.  Martin has lost his sense of taste - his taste buds have been unused for so long they've forgotten everything they ever knew, and the tracheotomy would be playing a significant part in this problem.  So all we need to find is a soft liquidizable food stuff that tastes - well it doesn't matter what it tastes like to us - so long as Martin thinks it's good.  He's got full control of his environment now - sitting in bed like 'Lord Muck' his hand is moved lightly to the bed controls and without looking the angle, shape and elevation of the bed are instantly 'fettled' to satisfy his 'current' requirements.  He's even doing a bit of 'self suction' to clear his mouth of extra stuff - or stuff he's started to try to eat or drink but decided 'it's off'!   He even tasted and declared as 'horrible' some 'Coke', so someone should warn the catering manager at work to cancel that big order he was planning for Martin's return.    His Mum and his Sister  (Gina), who's returned this evening from Lincolnshire, have stayed on with him late - to see him off to sleep.

Thursday 14th April 2005

One word describes today, and that word is brilliant.  Martin started off the day, after the doctors rounds, with an electric shave - courtesy of Dad (well and Mum - who'd charged up Martin's electric shaver and taken it to the hospital).  We, Martin that is, then had a brief dispute with the physiotherapists who wanted him to do some exercises - but he refused, saying he was too sore from yesterdays procedures.  A deal was struck with them eventually - he'd be allowed to skip today's workout but had to promise to definitely do tomorrows (else his Dad would be set upon him - as if!).  The rest of the morning was taken up by 'question time'.  "How long have I been here?", - "can't believe it's six weeks", and "where did my accident happen?".  After asking a couple of such questions about 'the accident' he thought for a while and then sincerely asked if any other people had been hurt. "No" we assured him - only he and his friend were in the car that night and no other car was involved.  We told him his friend had only received relatively minor injuries and was very concerned about Martin.  He must have a memory loss about the evening of the crash - which is perhaps very likely and probably no bad thing.  Anyway we had some visitors, family in fact, from London and after a quick pre-lunch session with Martin we said our farewells to him and retired to the local pub for some food.  When we returned Martin was trying to tell or ask us something - and it wasn't ever so clear what.  So it was out with the 'comms board' and Martin selected a few letters and arranged them to spell "fruit".  We asked if he'd like some fruit and he nodded yes.   We thought this was great because he was asking for food - but were fairly sure that we'd be in trouble if we started feeding him without consent.  Anyway we kind of laughed it off a bit and thought little of it until another plea from Martin, for the comms board.  This time he spelt out  "dr    ok".  Hmmmm do you want us to ask the Doctor about the fruit ?   We got a 'iffy', neither no nor yes response - but we were obviously close to what he wanted.   A little while later he spelt out "no one    go fruit".  We asked him do you mean that no one has gone for fruit?  Thumbs up (yes).   This was all getting rather interesting so we asked the Sister if perhaps Martin would be allowed a little fruit, maybe an orange segment or something similar....?  Martin's nurse interrupted that she'd been reading his medical notes from this morning's Doctors round, and indeed the Doctor had 'recommended' some fruit for him, and asked for some to be got from the kitchen.  So Martin knew all along that he could have some fruit and we thought he couldn't.  It all got resolved in the end though and he did have a segment or two of orange - which he sucked all the juice out of and returned the empty segments to us.  What a great day we've all had - we've seen lots of the real Martin starting to shine through.  Later on he asked for the board and spelt out the name of a work colleague.  I knew where this was heading. I'd told him that this colleague's father was having a mutliple by-pass operation the day before and he was asking me if I knew how it had gone.  I did and told him that it had gone extremely well.  Martin was quite elated with this news and despatched me to the heart ward to see if I could intercept his work mate - such that he could speak to him.  Unfortunately I either missed him or he wasn't there tonight, but we'll watch out for him over the next couple of days.  As I left this evening, I said my goodbyes and Martin mouthed something.  We nearly got it right to start with but quickly worked out (with his help) that he was saying "Bye Dad, safe journey home".  And he really meant it!!

Wednesday 13th April 2005

Martin was scheduled for a different type of feed tube, to be fitted this morning at 11:30.  He'd continued with his sickness problems for pretty much most of the night. His Mum had stayed with him until about 2 o'clock this morning to try and settle him down for the night - but when constantly feeling sick its quite hard to get any meaningful rest, never mind sleep.  Martin tried very hard this morning first during 'wash and turn', then Doctors rounds and then when 'receiving' some visitors, each of whom said they found him receptive and much better than the last time they saw him.  Its good for us to get this feedback as we see him every day and often don't notice the great changes that have occurred over a few days.  By then it was time for the 'feed pipe' procedure.  Martin had to give his consent for this - he wasn't able to sign the paper, but he gave an indication of consent which was deemed sufficient for them to proceed.  This procedure required a 'shufty-scope' (not sure of the medical term for this device - or is it an endoscope?) to be passed down his throat and then into, through and below his stomach until the required position was reached.  A pipe was then passed through this device which remained when the rest was removed.  Martin had to be sedated for this process but I think he felt rather uncomfortable afterwards, something that was predicted (this should become less of an annoyance as time progresses).  He was still doing a lot of wretching - this could be the new pipe that's to blame as much as anything else.  He did start to settle down as the afternoon passed, that is until it was decided that his tracheotomy pipe ought to be replaced, as recommended, to minimize the risk of infection.  This is the whole fitting not just the easily removed (for cleaning) part.  The Doctor on the ward said that he'd do this and it would take a few minutes but it would be quite uncomfortable (that's medical speak for probably hurt a lot).  As this was commenced as we entered 'quiet time' we were asked to stay around until the job was done so that we could go back in and help calm Martin down a bit.  I'd warned Martin about this - and told him it would probably hurt.  I also told him why it was being done.  Afterwards he was laying in bed - he'd done some more wretching but he'd put on a very brave face for us.  I asked him if  it had hurt - he nodded.  We said our goodbyes since he was OK and left for tea.  When we got back to the hospital at 7.30 pm. Martin was apparently sleeping, covered in a blanket, and looking fairly comfortable.  He started to wake after few minutes and his Mum moved the covering blanket slightly to be confronted with a blood soaked sheet.  What a shock that was!!  He'd tangled his cannula (where the drip goes in) in his bedding and somehow disconnected it slightly - giving rise to the leakage of a little blood (doesn't a little blood go a long way).  We had to wash him down, as he was covered in it, and change his top and bottom sheets and blanket.  Poor 'old lad' (term of endearment) -  how has he managed to cope with so many little things in one day - and still keep a brave face.  Let's truly hope tomorrow is less of a problem day.

Tuesday 12th April 2005

"Martin's been playing games with us overnight" was the report that greeted me at 8 o'clock this morning. "He's figured out if he removes his ventilator pipe and sticks his finger in the end of it (the supply pipe that is), the alarm won't go off.".  So how could I chastise him for that - I felt rather proud that he'd managed to work that little wrinkle out.  I was not sure what mood I'd find in him, as those who've read the 'guestbook' will have seen that last night Martin asked the question that we knew he would ask sooner or later.  A series of gestures and mouthing of words resulted in "why have I got a soft area on my head".  Not just 'why', he wanted to know all about it.  Janet (Mum) was with him at the time, it was about 10 p.m. last night.  She sought advice from the nursing staff who said she should tell the truth.  So she explained that part of his skull had been removed in a life saving operation to control bleeding in his brain and the piece was left off to allow his brain to expand due to it swelling up as a consequence of the injury and indeed the surgery.    Martin thought long and hard about this, his Mum was worried that he might have some reaction to this news so stayed with him until dawn, at which time he indicated she could go.  She promised that a Doctor would explain everything to him during the day.  So after my arrival and the reports about the 'games' (above) I took time to ask Martin if he understood all that his Mum had told him about his head.  He nodded - but to be sure, I also explained things to him and again confirmed that he understood.  Finally as promised we asked a Doctor to speak to him about it.  Martin received a well balanced, easy to understand, concise description of his head's status.  The Doctor also explained that the skull piece was in the 'deep freeze' at the hospital and would be put back when it was clinically the right time to do so, alternatively a titanium or composite plastic piece may be fitted.  Martin indicated a little 'wow' face at this final possibility.  No food today, as we've been expecting to have a slightly different feed tube fitted - one which goes beyond the stomach, and would  thus be depositing food where it can't be 'thrown up' with sickness. He should get that tomorrow.   Also it seems that the C-PAP may be history as we've moved to a different method of achieving the same ends (healthy lungs).  I also got a special 'thumbs-up' from Martin for his Grandma, who has sent him another get well message from her home in Wakefield (they have web access and print this log out daily for her).

Monday 11th April 2005

Regular readers of this progress log will search through the days events looking for something that indicates Martin's limits or capabilities, since these are the things which best indicate how well he is progressing - more on this below.  Today we've been continuing with the nutrition and physiotherapy programs to help make Martin strong and better able to move forward as time progresses.  A session on the C-PAP didn't go too well so a subtle distraction was wheeled into play in the form of a TV set with built in DVD player.  We'd a couple of DVD's to hand and Martin selected 'Shrek' for his entertainment.  The C-PAP was abandoned after about an hour (well just short of), the TV was switched off and Martin was reverted back to the normal ventilator.  When they put the TV back on, later in the day, the nurse was trying to use the remote control to skip through the menus to get the film playing again, without much success.  So I had a go (Jack) and found the remote slightly illogical and couldn't make out the symbols on the little buttons without reverting to wearing some 'face furniture'.  Martin took the control from me, studied it for a few seconds, then flicked through the menus and then fast forwarded at 32X until he reached the exact frame he'd previously got to, then continued at normal speed whilst setting the volume to a suitable level (well it was a bit loud - but we got him to turn it down a bit).  Then to cover any future eventuality  the control was squirreled away beneath the sheets into a 'safe place'.   We all got a tremendous 'buzz' from this.  So although we've had better days regarding his physical recovery, today has proved a fantastic day with respect to logic, reasoning, eye sight, and much more.  Visiting was also good today, but once again Martin was quite tired when everyone had left.   

Sunday 10th April 2005

The fattening up regime has started.  The volume of his food has been increased, and to help correct a tendency to dehydration, some fluids have been administered intravenously (I must state, NOT Dr.Pepper - something which has been suggested in the guestbook.  Apparently the NHS have not yet introduced Dr.Pepper as an infusion - thankfully).  Some colour has returned to his face and I would say that his cheeks have filled ever so slightly - he no longer has that really gaunt appearance that he's had over the last few days.  In conversation today with one of his Doctors we told him that Martin was a poor traveller and was often travel sick.  We have been having some difficulty with sickness, which seems to be triggered by the wretching cough, which may be associated with this tendency to travel sickness.  So they've put him on a different drug to try and control this sickness. Basically, it seems, they're effectively treating him for travel sickness.  Lets hope this approach is fruitful as it's not doing him much good nutritionally if he keeps throwing loads of  food back out again.  Just about all other drugs have been withdrawn now except some anti-depressants which take a week or two to become effective.  This is to be in place when Martin is potentially going to be depressed, as the enormity of the situation becomes clear to him.  Of course no-one really knows what that enormity will entail - and that's rather scarey!  A handful of visitors this afternoon seemed to be quite pleased with his condition,  one who travels each Sunday from London was very pleased because this was the first time that he had interaction from Martin (even though it was at a fairly basic level).  Gina has returned to Lincolnshire to work for Queen and Country, and has reported her safe arrival there.  

Saturday 9th April 2005

Today was hard for us all, as Martin is desperately fighting to become strong, but has to temper his efforts as he rapidly uses up his 'reserves'.  The staff on the ward coax and persuade throughout each day and keep on with the training regime.  Important sessions currently being addressed are lung exercises which will train his lungs to work hard when they need to do so (this is achieved thanks to that C-PAP machine) and educating the tendons in his feet so that he'll be more able to walk when the time comes (thanks to those strap on orthopaedic boots).  No doubt the physiotherapists have some more tricks up their sleeves which will be introduced as and when Martin is fit enough for them to do so (such as the sitting up exercises that we've seen over the last day or two).  Martin has to persevere with these physically demanding (to him) exercises since only by sticking to the schedule can we hope to build up his strength in a controlled way.  He is finding this very hard at the moment and probably very frustrating, however we all try to impress on him that the exercises will become easier as his body starts to respond to the training.  We had some encouraging feedback today from one of the doctors who'd been away from the ward for a week or so.  He told us he was quite impressed with the progress being made, however he also reminded us of the other things that were currently being addressed.  It's good to get a run down on the various injuries, conditions, infections, anomalies, etc.,  what's being done to address these, and the considered opinion of someone who deals with these things all the time.  On the whole this gave us a reasonably positive prognosis.   Martin became a little exhausted mid-afternoon just around the time that a visitor arrived to see him who'd travelled a considerable distance.  She did get a nice acknowledgement from him and a definite reaching out to offer his rather shaky hand.  Martin was as I said quite exhausted and in need of some nursing attention at this time so his visitor gracefully left.  I tried to catch up with her after we got Martin settled but she was gone.  I do hope she'll be able to return sometime in the future and trust that she'll then find a stronger Martin than she did today.  I suppose that we all do need to remember, and understand, that although we've seen and documented in these pages some tremendous improvements in his condition recently, these represent mere splashes in the ocean with regards to his return to normal.  Mum and Gina are with him as I write this (it's good to see him reasonably settled before leaving him for the night).    

Friday 8th April 2005

How terrifying it is to realize that today is the start of the 6th week. How have we managed to get this far?  The solution is clear - it's because we've had so much support from family, friends and even from people we don't actually know.  Martin is in the ever capable hands of the staff at the Multiple Injuries Unit (MIU) at North Staffs Royal Infirmary, to whom we all owe a vote of thanks and gratitude for the fantastic job that they do.  Martin (and we) are pretty much veterans on the ward now, and have seen many patients come and go from the ward.  The majority of MIU patients have head injuries or similar trauma.  We've been able to help newly admitted patients families to come to terms with their shock and reassure them that there is no finer place for health care than this unit, specifically where head injuries are involved. We've shared peoples elation and also occasionally their grief.  There are good days and there are some bad days.   Martin's recovery continues but it is now clear that the rigours of the last 5 weeks have left him extremely weak and frail.  So it's maximum effort to try and fatten him up a bit, and exercise his muscles as part of his recovery plan.  It is clear to those who have visited him recently, and we had quiet a few today, that he is very very tired and in need of lots of nourishment to put some weight back on, which in turn will give him the required reserves to claw his way back to full health.  Apologies to those who were affected by what they saw today, we know that he is physically very weak, and generally we try to brief visitors as to his condition before they see him.  Apologies also to those who were turned away (again) because we were advised that we should leave him quietly as he needed to rest.  We all felt rather guilty about leaving him, perhaps we should have taken more notice of our 6th sense as he had a panic session about half an hour after we left, which was rather disturbing to those who witnessed it, and obviously upset Martin quite a bit.  Gina returned from Lincolnshire this afternoon (she's much closer now than when she was in the frozen North of Scotland) and she spent some time with her brother Martin this evening.  This was not one of Martin's better days it has to be said.  It also has to be said that he is still very very poorly.     

Thursday 7th April 2005

Another trip up the Alps this morning, that's sitting up on the edge of his bed (courtesy of the physiotherapists), left Martin rather tired again.  I don't think he felt 'dizzy' today so that's an improvement over yesterdays efforts.  Martin was wearing his corrective boots - some strap-on frames which help correct the tightening of the tendons in his heels caused by not having stood up for 5 weeks.  He decided he wanted them off - so he pointed his newly discovered 'demanding finger' at his nurse who asked what he wanted.  He pointed at his boots and indicated that they should be removed.  As Martin had cleverly denied offers to shave him, up to that point at least, a deal was struck to the effect that the nurse could shave him - so long as she removed the annoying boots immediately afterwards.  So his face was shaved - rather well I have to admit, and the nurse went to the sink a little way down the ward to rinse out bowls etc.  Martin decided that part of the agreement had been overlooked so raised his feet in the air and waved his boots about and pointed at them.  They were removed as agreed when the nurse returned to his bed.  Later on whilst he was on the C-PAP and  not happy about being so we tried to humour him by asking some far reaching questions. One we asked - was there anything Martin was worried about at his house.  He used Mums infamous comms board and he started spelling out a word.....'p'.......'o'.... (so were now thinking perhaps 'post').......'m'.....(so now we're thinking hard and not coming up with anything)........'e'.......(now we're convinced he's probably gone wrong)............he can't figure the next letter and his trying to say the word, over and over.  Mum's cousin, who was visiting today, said she thought he meant 'pomegranite' at which point Martin nodded furiously and gave the 'thumbs-up' (yes) signal.  We'd seen a couple of pomegranites going slowly off when we recently visited his house, so were able to tell him not to worry about them as we'd taken care of them.   Back to the comms board and instructions to ask anything he wanted.  This time he spelt out 'visitor'.  We asked what he meant, did he want to know  who was going to visit him today - yes he did.  This was keeping him occupied so I dashed out of the hospital and switched on the mobile.  A quick call to the office to see who's scheduled to visit today.  Couldn't get any information so arrangements were made to leave me a message later with that detail.  Once again we were able to keep him amused, just.  He was watching the clock and pointed the finger again at the nurse when the hour had expired.  He had a couple of hours rest, followed by an hour on the C-PAP, a couple of hours rest,.......etc.  Visitors came and went and once again were impressed with the changes in Martin since last they saw him.  He is very thin though and attempts are being made to fatten him up a bit - so we might have to ask for some canteen chips to be liquidized and fed to him through his tube.

Wednesday 6th April 2005

After what has become a normal sleepy start to the day, Martin later went mountaineering, under the guidance and support of his physiotherapists (well not exactly mountains that you and I might imagine).  In this case the summit of all the effort was to be sat up on the edge of his bed - with, it must be said, a fair amount of support from the physios' - a  task which, after being horizontal and practically motionless for nearly 5 weeks, represents a considerable achievement for Martin - well done and 'Hurrah'.  Not unreasonably, and for the same reasons just given, he was not able to remain in this position for too long (I think he got slightly dizzy) so he was returned to his regular laid back position to recover from the fantastic effort he'd just completed.  Phew - that did knock his socks off, and for the rest of the day he was very tired and couldn't even manage more than about 40 minutes on the C-PAP.  He managed to reserve a little alertness though for the afternoon and  evening visitors - who could each tell that he was very tired, even though Martin acknowledged them (he offered his hand to each as he first saw them) and agreed with them that he was doing rather better than when they saw him last.  He was feeling rather sick at this time so we had to curtail the visiting times to just a few minutes each so as not to overtire him.  At one point whilst Mum was explaining her new communications creation (a clever board with letters and numbers that can be moved, using velcro fastenings, to make words etc), Martin signalled that he wanted the board.  He searched through the alphabet and took the  first letter........'Q'.  Then the second letter.....'U', and then the third which was......'I'.  It was clear where this was going so Mum asked him 'Do you want us to be quiet?' and he nodded very deliberately.  Aha - so that told 'her' then !  Before I left tonight I read him a message that his Grandma, who's currently living in a residential home in Wakefield, sent to him.  She wished him a complete return to health, God's blessing, and to say 'I love you' to him.  I asked Martin if he wanted to say anything to his Grandma - he nodded and mouthed 'Thankyou Grandma - I love you too".  Bless him!!  Mum has once again stayed on into the late evening to help Martin settle for the night.  Bless her!!

Tuesday 5th April 2005

We arrived mid morning to find Martin a bit sleepy again.  Apparently he'd been quite active earlier, but had nodded off shortly before we arrived.  He was on the C-PAP and waiting for a 'wash and turn', which was delayed to allow us to get a little more time with him.  Anyway we had about 30 minutes, during which Martin was trying to tell us something, and his stupid Mum and Dad couldn't understand the words he was mouthing.  We tried the spell it out approach and were making some progress when the nurse invited us to leave so that he could give Martin the postponed 'wash and turn'.  When we returned about 40 minutes later we were amazed to see Martin's neck - in the flesh !! Yes the 'gucci' collar had been removed.  Martin had been given a quick assessment, moving his neck in all directions without any pain, and they'd decided it could come off.  Hurrah !!  I'm sure that will be a great event for Martin as he's hated the thing since it was fitted, and in the early (semi conscious) days had engineered many a plan to remove it.  We're hopeful that it can remain on the bottom shelf of his 'bed station', or better still even further away.  We also noticed that they'd taken him of the C-PAP as he was suffering a little from fatigue (they do say it's quite hard work).  The afternoon visiting was somewhat abbreviated due to a medical emergency in the ward.  We were advised that we wouldn't get back in until after the quiet period had ended at 7 p.m.  Unfortunately some visitors were on their way to see him, and we just managed to intercept them at the main entrance and advise them of the situation on the ward.  They were, of course, disappointed - even though they tried not to show it.  So we all left for an early tea and Jan and I got back to the hospital shortly after seven.  We gained access to the ward, and were quite surprised to find Martin entertaining two of the 'girls' from work. We had to back out gracefully - only two visitors to a bed you know.  They could not believe him, how much he'd come on and how well he could communicate with them, using a 'thumbs up' or indeed 'thumbs down' and mouthing words to them.  As they left we ourselves got in and it was soon clear he'd  tired himself out with the girls and was starting to feel drowsy again.  One of his colleagues from work came along shortly after, and because he'd been many times before and only found a sleeping Martin, it was a quality visit for him too.  Anyway I stayed till shift change, and came home to do this log, and his Mum stayed on with him to watch him off to sleep for the night.    

Monday 4th April 2005

A sleepy start to the day, pretty much the same as yesterday.  People came and went, nurses did their things (as nurses do), the C-PAP 'hissed' away, and Martin slept on.  Mid afternoon we had to take some time away to go to the railway station, then on to Martin's house in Wetley Rocks to check to see if there was any important mail, etcetera. Anyway whilst at his house we got a text to tell us that some visitors were on their way to see him, but they were stuck in traffic.  Bearing in mind the last time someone tried to visit when we weren't there they got turned away (gracefully), we decided we should get back to the hospital 'toot suite' to ensure that they could get in.  We got back before they arrived (they were 'well stuck' in traffic) so I went in to see Martin whilst Mum waited to receive the visitors.  As I walked down the ward I was taken back by the sight of a rather large 'thumbs up' from Martin's bed.  He was sitting far more upright in his bed than I'd ever seen him before, he was awake and he was watching what was going on around him.  I gave him an "Alright Matey" and he mouthed "Yes" and nodded.  I told him he'd been asleep for nearly two full days - which seemed to surprise him.  Then he pointed a finger, past me somewhere to the other side of the ward.  I looked and asked what ?  He pointed again.  The only thing I could see in that direction was the top of a nurses head, over the top of the nursing 'station'.  So I asked if he wanted the nurse, and he nodded 'yes'.  What for ?  He took his finger and pointed to his chest.  Do you need a cough ? 'Yes' he nodded.  (Cough - an assisted cough covered elsewhere in these pages - a tube is passed into his bronchial tubes that makes him cough....etc.,).  The visitors arrived and were rushed in to see him - only two to a bed you know - and outside I told Jan of Martin's current condition.  The visitors came out and we both dashed back in for the last few minutes before 'quiet time'.  It was truly quality time, with Martin being really awake, aware and interactive.  We had to leave him for the enforced rest period, but shall be back there shortly to, hopefully, have some more 'one to one' contact with the real Martin.

Returning after the quiet period we were overjoyed to find Martin was still 'open for business', and the C-PAP machine still 'hissing' away.  We asked him if he was in pain - 'No', comfortable - 'No', and quickly ascertained that he wanted his head lowering (he was still sat up as earlier, and his 'gucci' collar was starting to annoy him again).  So the nurse quickly manipulated the controls on the bed and lowered his head and upper torso into a more horizontal position.  Martin was worried about something else, he said, and it took us some time before we could work out what. He tried to write on a notepad with a pen in his right hand (he's left handed) and eventually using a mixture of an alphabet sheet and his writing we ascertained that he was worried about his boots (strange you might think, but lets not forget how hard it is to get size 15's that you actually like).  We were able to reassure  him that his boots were safe.  I retired home to do this log - but somewhere along the way found myself sobbing almost uncontrollably with joy (big softy !!).

Sunday 3rd April 2005

A 'change in the wind' has resulted in Martin leaving the 'doldrums', hopefully for good, with his body chemistry apparently stabilising and he becoming much more relaxed and tension free. He had a very good night, he slept right through peacefully, and obviously decided that he liked this so much that he continued with that theme for today (in fairness, I think the last few days have left him exhausted and he needed to catch up with his sleep).  An occasional eyebrow has lifted, followed shortly after by the tentative opening of an eyelid, the briefest of inspections of his surroundings and then a reverse order shutdown of these actions to return to peaceful sleep.  Today he's also been connected to the C-PAP machine (gymnasium for lungs).  He was 'plugged in' at 9 a.m. this morning and has been working continuously until at least 9 p.m. this evening (when I left to complete this log).  The indications are that they'd be taking him off it for the night, and probably putting him back on it in the morning.  So that's at least 12 hours of fairly hard work.  To his credit, and to our great satisfaction, he's done this without breaking into a sweat or at the expense of high pulse rates (or any other worrying 'stats').  So I'm going to be the first to print 'Well done Martin', even though I've said it quite a few times to him today already.  The nursing staff have gone about their day to day duties, washing, shaving, rolling, testing and adjusting, and Martin's taken it all in his stride.   He's had a few visitors, whom I think have seen a great improvement in his condition (your feedback always gratefully received), though as Martin has not been awake much today he's not been able to impress them with his movements and interactions.  I think today has been a good day in that he's obviously more relaxed and not suffering any great pain that we can tell.  We hope that this rate of improvement continues into tomorrow and that he once again proves that he can master that C-PAP machine.  Only when he can cope for 24 hours on this device can his lungs be declared officially 'OK', or as Gina would say 'Serviceable'.  

Saturday 2nd April 2005

Today's log by Jan (Mum)

The 'doldrums' continued today with Martin being tired, restless and drowsy. A little cloud of depression is hanging over him. Quite understandable considering he has no real control over his environment and indeed, under such circumstances who wouldn't  get a bit down. Added to which it was decided to give him a session on the C-PAP, he struggled through a whole hour which left him totally exhausted. Early afternoon found him having his intravenous lines moved to his arms. To decide whether Martin's left arm was suitable, the nurse asked Martin if he could move it (evidentially this nurse hadn't read yesterday's log.) He squeezed till the nurse pleaded for his hand back. A highlight of the day was his visitor this afternoon who was once, many years ago, Matron of the North Staffs Royal Infirmary in the days when the Matron ruled all.  Gina returned  for the weekend and is taking control of entertainments, organising TV, radio, CD's and films. Two more visitors came later and brought some lively conversation which revived us and Martin. Thanks guys. We left around 11 p.m. hoping he has a peaceful night. and plenty of rest.

Friday 1st April 2005

Oh dear, we seem to be stuck in the 'doldrums', and have been for the last few days. There's been only a little change to report in Martin's condition, which is however one 'huge' step on his way to recovery.  Last night whilst suffering badly from what appears to be withdrawal symptoms (from the cocktail of drugs that have been helping to sustain him for the last month), those present saw his hitherto non moving left arm - move !!  This was no trick of the imagination and was not a muscle spasm, but a deliberate controlled movement.  Immediately his left hand was grasped by the on-duty nursing sister, who instructed 'Martin I want you to squeeze my fingers with your left hand - tightly'.  It was clear to all that this was done, as the knuckles turned white with the pressure he was applying.  Martin got a 'well done!' and a further instruction to lift his left arm.  After a false start where he in fact lifted his right arm high, he did move his left arm upwards - not very far, but this was a tremendous achievement as this had not moved at all over the last 4 weeks (well not deliberately).  I think that there was a great cheer on the ward.  We may be stuck in this phase where not much seems to be happening - but Martin has proven that things are really going on under the surface and he's able to demonstrate this to us.  He's still very confused and seems to be in some pain and is probably hallucinating from time to time (his eyes widen and follow non existent 'shadows' - and he gets quite distressed).   We are there to try and calm him when this happens, although he's sometimes quite difficult to bring under control.  Let's hope that this problem and indeed the pain he's suffering get better soon.  Thanks to today's visitors who found Martin a little drowsy (he's very tired and not getting much real rest at the moment) yet were able to snatch a few minutes with him and see for themselves the progress he's made since last they saw him. 

Thursday 31st March 2005

We'd hoped that Martin would get a restful night as yesterdays log concluded, but according to reports from the nursing staff he didn't.  Nor has he had a particularly good day today either.  He's been suffering from acute pain for most of the day, mainly in his head but judging by his movements elsewhere too.  He's been desperately trying to clear his chest too, but that is currently only possible with the help of a suction tube which is lowered into his bronchial tubes - this makes him cough, as I'm sure you can all imagine, and any 'loose stuff' is drawn up the tube and into a collecting vessel. It's very distressing to witness as he goes a deep red colour as he coughs and coughs, as this obviously causes his BP and pulse rate to go through the roof and it also tires him out very quickly.  Today's mood swings were not quite so bad as Tuesdays were although at times it was difficult to retain his attention.  Apologies to the visitor (you know who you are) who arrived this morning and was turned away because he was not recognised by the staff, and no one from the family was around - they'd asked Mum to leave whilst they 'turned' Martin, so she'd decided to grab a quick breakfast in the hospital restaurant.  Thanks for the card anyway, Martin did appreciate it  Once again this evening Mum has stayed behind to comfort him and just be with him, whilst I've come home to work on this progress log. I know that Martin is grateful for the attention, although he's never been one to admit such things.

It is now 4 weeks since the accident, and we'd all like Martin back now please.  

Wednesday 30th March 2005

Almost a carbon copy of yesterdays log, with Mum 'on-site' good and early and able to react to any situations should they develop. As it was Martin seemed as though he'd had a peaceful night, and eventually awoke just in time to receive visitors from work.  These were members of the management team, who'd been before when Martin was not so good.  They were delighted with the fact that they were getting 'nods', 'shakes' and 'thumbs up' in response to their closed questions, and left after a short while extremely pleased with Martin's progress.  I think they must have tired him out because he drifted in and out of sleep for most of the afternoon, at least until they reconnected him to the 'C-PAP' machine to give his lungs something to do. This is very hard work for him but he put up with it for 5 hours. No wonder he was getting slightly anxious as the evening progressed.  They took him off the machine at 10 p.m. and he became less troubled and more relaxed, finally settling down again about 11 p.m.  We all said our goodbyes and, with his approval, left him to (hopefully) get another good nights rest.

Tuesday 29th March 2005

Another very difficult day to document - come back Gina, you seem to have 'a way with words' under such circumstances.  Mum had stayed at Martin's bedside until well after midnight last night, calming and reassuring him as and when necessary.  She was back at the hospital fairly early this morning to, once again, offer what support she could if it was needed.  This early start also gave her an opportunity to intercept the doctors on their rounds and do a bit of 'fighting Martin's corner', to ensure that they fully understood what behaviour was normal and what was out of character.  This is something that is not too easy for the nursing staff to do themselves, because they have no knowledge whatsoever of Martin before this accident.  Anyway the doctors took on board some of the information that was being offered, so that was a worthwhile exercise - well done Mum.  Throughout the rest of the day Martin seemed to be rather down - perhaps the reality and enormity of the situation is starting to become clear to him.  He did occasionally acknowledge peoples presence - but lacked the 'sparkle' that we've seen over the last couple of days (anyone who knows Martin will have seen that 'glint' in his eye and will appreciate the point I'm making here).  I think that we all had a go at trying to cheer him up - but this is really difficult, because we can all imagine just how rough he must be feeling right now.  Anyway after the late shift we stayed until Martin was happy for us to leave him, having once again reassured him that he's safe and in the good hands of the nursing staff.  Lets hope he's 'bucked up' a bit by tomorrow. 

Monday 28th March 2005 (Easter Bank Holiday)

It's a difficult report to write today, as for most of the day Martin was pretty much as he'd been yesterday, with the exception of him not being able to remove his feed tube, due to it being wrapped to his nose as described previously.  He is still throwing some of the food back which gives us some cause for concern but indications are that at least a percentage is being absorbed.  When we left for the quiet period (16:30-19:00) we discussed his day so far, and were of the opinion that is had been a reasonable day, on balance, with nothing particularly bad having happened and some slight progress having been made on the 'waking up' process.  We returned at about 19:30 to find that Martin had, in the meantime, become exceedingly distressed and was struggling with the nurses who were trying desperately to calm him down.  We were allowed in after a few minutes and set about making him feel 'safe' and 'secure' and 'in good hands'.  This seemed to be working OK, if somewhat slowly, but then after 'shift change' at 9 p.m. he'd again become extremely agitated, so much so that his Mum elected to stay on 'late' to help keep him settled.  Martin continued with these fits of agitation, his body writhing and stretching into unnatural positions, so much so that a doctor was summoned to see what could be done to help him settle and to understand (if possible) the cause of these spasms.  His Mum is remaining with him, as long as it takes, so that she can help the staff to help Martin.  So - not such a good day after all. 

Sunday 27th March 2005  (Easter Sunday!!)

We all felt the effects of losing one hours sleep today but I don't think anyone could have been more worn out than Martin.  He spent a good part of the day coughing and vomiting and looking decidedly uncomfortable.  We can only assume that this is the body's reaction to coming back to a non-drugged state.  He is still on some drugs but they are very minimal and slowly decreasing.  He was slightly less responsive to us today than yesterday but I think this was probably because he was tired out.  The food tube that he had pulled out several times was replaced with a new foolproof one.  Now, when he pulls on it, he will actually be pulling on his nose itself as it is coiled around some cartilage right inside his sinuses.  Sounds awful and doesn't look too great but it is beneficial.  The best moment was when he moved his left leg.  I don't know how long we've waited for something like that to happen.  Yesterday we were told plainly that there had been absolutely no reaction to pain stimuli in either his left arm or his left leg, however there was no mistaking that today he brought his leg up and rested his foot flat on the bed.  Fantastic!!  There is little movement in his left arm as yet, but if his leg is anything to go by then he should be moving that pretty soon (I hope).  His eyes are moving around, however we are unable to tell if he is actually seeing things or just light/shadow.  We avoid asking him what he can see for the fear that it may scare him if he can't.  For now we are just happy that he knows who we are and seems to fully understand where he is and how he got there.

Saturday 26th March 2005

Gina here again.  I wanted to write today's log because for me, today was one of extreme joy and triumph.  Yesterday I went all the way up to Scotland and back again to pack up my house and annoyingly (for me) seemed to miss out on a day of real progress for Martin.  Having only communicated with him one way before now (me talking to him), I felt rather 'miffed' that I had, again, missed an opportunity.  Martin spent a good part of the day (two, two hour stints) on this new machine called a C-Pap(?) which re-educates his lungs to breathe properly.  I understand that it creates a kind of resistance to his breathing which means Martin has to work harder to get the oxygen into his lungs thus strengthening them.  I may not know the technicalities of it but I do know that it tires him out a lot and I figured this would mean he would be sleeping when I saw him.  Quite the contrary though, as soon as I said Hello his eyes were open and he was enthusiastically communicating with me by a series of nods and head shakes.  He gave my hand a definite squeeze and tried to say something but is unable to due to his tracheotomy.  I think we need to get him a magna-doodle or something to write on?  He gave every one of us (Mum, Dad and I) a very touching one armed hug, in fact, taken slightly by surprise, I was nearly pulled onto the bed with him.  He'll be able to give a mean right hook with that arm when he gets better.  He was very comfortable and sleeping when we left tonight and we all hope that tomorrow is of similar progress.  We didn't tell him that he missed Dr.Who tonight though, didn't want to upset him!!!

Friday 25th March 2005 (Good Friday)

Today's log....by Jan (Martin's Mum) (Jack's day off)

An early morning phone call brought news of a disrupted night in which Martin engineered an escape plan which only succeeded in getting himself tangled in tubes and wires.  Although the overall plan is to reduce the sedation, the nurse had to increase it again slightly for his own safety.  I drove swiftly to my second home, North Staffs Infirmary, anxious to see him, only to be denied  entry due to wash and brush up, log rolling, doctors rounds and physiotherapy. At last at 11.30 I got onto the ward. Martin was semi awake, active and making attempts to communicate between intervals of sleep.  As the day progressed Martin became more aware, and at one point while I was explaining to my sister what the functions of various machines and equipment was, he ruffled my hair several times.  My elation at his action was soon squashed because when I asked him if it meant " Shut up Mum!" he nodded vigorously leaving me in little doubt that I had been 'TOLD'.  His bed was raised for the first time into a more upright position, his sedation withdrawn,  he was communicating and positively cooperating with the nursing staff.  I left tonight thinking this is GOOD FRIDAY!!!  

Thursday 24th March 2005

There was some quite good news this morning in that Martin's white blood cell count was down to normal levels - indicating that infection levels must have reduced.  The body creates extra white cells to fight infection - so this is a really good indicator.  Also oxygen levels were also down to 30% - yet another indication that his body was working much better than of late.  So the previously mentioned gradual wake up continued for much of the day.  Some clever adjustments of the various infusions being constantly made to perfect the speed at which Martin 'comes back to earth' - rather like the re-entry of some space capsule, too steep and everything burns up, and too shallow and we all go bouncing back off again.  Well something like that !  Anyway we got a few indications during the afternoon that he was slightly aware and this period was good, but then panic set in as blood pressure, pulse rate and respiration figures went ballistic - so the sedation level was increased just a little to gently relax him into sleep again.  God this is difficult ! It must be really hard for Martin - it's certainly almost unbearable for us to witness.  The nursing staff assure us that it's generally expected that this phase will occur - sometimes it's easier than others apparently.  We find ourselves physically exhausted after spending most of the day at the hospital,  maybe 40% of that time with Martin,  then return home about 10 in the evening totally drained.  We then go to bed and sleep - well sort of.

It's now three weeks since the accident. 

Wednesday 23rd March 2005

I am pleased that I have, once again, nothing bad to write here today.  Martin has remained sedated, although to be fair, at or near the 'twilight zone' boundary between sleep and semi consciousness for all of the day.  Occasionally an eye has half opened or his hand has raised slightly, and some subliminal responses to instructions to be calm have been apparent.  As he comes across this consciousness line his 'vitals' speed up as if he's getting a bit distressed (as predicted) but then a few minutes later he'll drift back to the other side and be more relaxed.  The nursing staff have his best interests at heart, as ever, and are carefully trying to bring him back to reality with the minimum of panic and stress. This is a rather delicate process of playing one sedative against another in such a way as to wean him off the more 'potent' ones early and therefore hopefully reduce the 'cold turkey' effects when these are finally stopped.  Its a bit of a 'catch 22' problem we have in that Martin needs to have his neck/back injury assessed and to do this he needs to be conscious - but they don't want to risk bringing him back to consciousness until they've an assessment of his spinal injuries.  Now Martin would probably be able to come up with a logical way of achieving this, but for the rest of us it represents something of a tricky problem.  Once again visitors have been successful - getting a couple of minutes each with him to give some encouragement for a speedy and successful recovery.   Thanks from all of us, to all of you, who are reading this column, as I know that you are all behind Martin, and indeed us, in this most difficult time. 

I don't usually promote such things, but in this case I've got a vested interest.  Janet is attending a 'blood donor' session in Leek next week, she's a regular donor (they won't have mine) and I would like to send special thanks to her and other blood donors. This incident proves how worthwhile giving blood is. Martin has, up to now, had 20 units of blood as well as loads of other blood products, which have supported him through the worst of his problems thus far.  Without sufficient supplies where would he now be? 

Tuesday 22nd March 2005

Today was a good day, but only from the perspective that nothing bad happened, and also making an assumption that when Martin is sleeping peacefully some automatic healing and repair function is constantly working on his broken body. He's had his feeding tube moved to his nose, from his mouth, which may help with the comfort (no tubes down his mouth now) and may be better located in his stomach.  This, coupled with some anti-vomiting drug they've given him, may help him hang onto and properly digest his food, so that he'll grow big and strong (well lets not have too much more of the big and concentrate instead on the strong). Physio-therapy continues as does regular 'log roles' and 'bedbaths' (!!).  Some most interesting and I must say rather clever entries have been put into the guestbook today - Martin, I'm sure,  would definitely approve. 

Monday 21st March 2005

After yesterdays shaky start to the day we were prepared for just about anything this morning. What we found was a rather comfortable looking Martin, still sedated, but looking a lot more peaceful than he did yesterday.   The oxygen levels were down, he was breathing for himself and his temperature seemed about right.  His blood pressure had been all over the place, leading the nursing staff on a merry dance, but they were managing to keep it 'in the frame' for most of the time.  Maybe the fight against his pneumonia is being won - we certainly hope so.  His hand was 'free' - that is there was no restrictive 'boxing glove' - and it soon became clear due to his arm movements that he was coming slowly out of sedation.   We checked with the staff and today was to be a 'talk to him', 'reassure him' and 'calm him down if he gets excitable' sort of day.  About midday Gina arrived back from Scotland - we weren't expecting her until much later, but she'd set off at about 5 a.m. and made good time.  We knew she was travelleling today but because she set off and subsequently arrived so early, we didn't get a chance to start worrying about her travelling all that way.  It was good timing too, because Martin was on the edge of consciousness when she arrived, and she was able to talk to him knowing that he was hearing a lot of what she said.  We never got Martin to a completely 'with it' state because mid afternoon he started vomiting (all over the physiotherapist - nice one Martin) so they decided to take him off his food and take him back into a deeper sedated state, which is the condition he's now in. We did manage to get a couple of friends in to his bedside, all-be-it only for a couple of minutes each, but thanks for coming guys and gals, we do appreciate it.  Martins status remains as of yesterday since there's not been sufficient sustained improvement to justify modifying it. 

Sunday 20th March 2005

Bad, bad, bad, start to the day.  We arrived at the hospital to find Martin on 100% oxygen and on the ventilator (not breathing for himself) - which immediately rang alarm bells in our minds.  We ascertained that Martin had had some trouble breathing, his 'good' lung had turned rather 'bad' and that, in a nutshell, he'd developed pneumonia.  Thud - that was the sound of our hearts hitting the floor.  Without putting too fine a point on it we were devastated.   We've been warned of the risk of and danger from such infection, and were fearing the worst.  We managed to snatch a word with the doctor on the ward - who explained that this was often a development in such cases of severe chest injuries and explained that whilst this infection did indeed present cause for concern, Martin's other treatments were coming along reasonably well.  There were some rather obtuse questions tabled about 'heart murmurs' (had Martin ever had one), which ultimately led to the calling of a cardiology specialist who gave him the once over.  It seems that they're reasonably happy that this 'murmur' was not an issue - and may not be a murmur after all.  The physiotherapists managed to draw some rather disgusting fluid from his chest on a couple of occasions, the evidence of these exercises clearly visible in the collecting vessel at the end of the suction tube.  Martin has been sedated throughout the day and has only really moved when the nursing staff have 'log rolled' him and given him a bit of a wash down.  We stayed quietly with him when we were able, and you'll all be rather interested to hear that at one time he managed 'fill my boots' (well actually just my left shoe) - due to a crack in the urine drain that had been recently renewed.  Nice one Martin.  I didn't mind really.  We've now left him because its 'quiet period' and are pleased to see that the oxygen concentration has been reduced to 60%. 

It's now approaching 11 p.m. and we've finally returned from the hospital to recharge our batteries and rest in preparation for setting out again tomorrow morning.  We usually call the ward at around 6 to 6.30 a.m. to check all is well, then after a shower and a couple of slices of toast join the great traffic melee, previously know as the A500, to make our way back to the hospital where we can play the 'hunt the parking space' game.  Martin was still sedated when we left him, oxygen levels reduced to 50%. but still having the ventilator doing the work for him.  Lets hope that tomorrow is a better day.

Saturday 19th March 2005

Today, it seems, we pay the penalty for yesterdays good news. Today Martin is 'not to be disturbed'.  Apparently he got a bit 'lively' during the night, and didn't seem to like the fact that his hand was 'bundled up' again.  He must have near worn himself out with his antics, shaking his arm about and trying to get up and out of bed, amongst other things, so once again he's been sedated so that he can get some rest and as a safety measure because of his blood pressure and heart rate, which had both risen whilst he was distressed.  He was also sick this morning before we arrived and made a right good job of the foam insert of the 'gucci' collar.  They had to replace the collar with another one which, fortunately, they did have to hand this time.  This event was also instrumental in the decision to sedate him.  So apologies to those who came along today after we'd all been told that we should go home and get some rest ourselves as we looked 'dreadful'.  We did manage to have a chat with the ward sister and one of the doctors about the last few days and many of our concerns were clarified and questions answered.  We try hard to meet the nursing staffs requirements, in that when they want us to calm Martin we do, or talk to him - which we also do - and when they want us to leave him alone we do that also.  Unfortunately it is not always clear what is expected of us on any particular day and thus all too easy to find out that we're doing the wrong thing.  We shall have to make a point of asking at the start of each session which 'mode' we are expected to be in that day. The chest drain to stay in a bit longer until levels of released fluid fall below acceptable standards.  Wind-pipe jobber or WPJ  (its much easy to say this than tracheotomy - which I have to 'cut and paste' from elsewhere in these logs) seems to be functioning as it should, but we've been warned that Martin might think we've 'pinched' his voice when he wakes up (could be days yet).  This is because the WPJ interfaces with his wind pipe below the vocal chords, so if there's no air flowing over them they can't really generate any sounds.  He should be able to 'sip' and swallow though without too much discomfort (apparently).  So I'm afraid that's about all I can say today, other than to predict that tomorrow's progress log entry may not be that dissimilar to today's.

Friday 18th March 2005

As the reality that it's now 2 weeks since that terrible accident sinks in, I'm ever conscious of, and overflowing with gratitude to, the fantastic team of dedicated professionals who have nursed Martin (and indeed other patients) and pampered to his bodies demands with undeviating determination.  These people often go completely unnoticed in our day to day lives.  After all, the type of situation that we find ourselves in, only ever happens to someone else. We read about it in the newspapers or hear it on the radio or TV, and I think it's fair to say we have little real grasp of the phrase 'fighting for his life', until that is, we are the 'someone else' and witness the struggle first hand.  I cannot begin to imagine the cost of this high level of care - I can see all the equipment, and all the nursing staff, and all the fluids and drugs being infused into patients bodies - and I can see that cost does not appear to be a limiting factor, at least not in this department. So lets hear a 'well done' and 'thankyou' to all those fabulous people.

Martin, as most readers of this column would have predicted, eventually won - yes the 'boxing glove' went flying.  He'd loosened it by carefully fouling it against various edges and got it so slack that he managed to shake it off.  He now has a tracheotomy so the plethora of pipes previously going down his throat have been reduced to a single feeding tube.  The 'gucci' collar has been targeted as a definite 'must get rid of this' object - but before Martin could complete that mission the nursing staff have bound his hand up again, for his own protection. There's not much to report on the lung, at this time, other than an assumption that it is being addressed behind the scenes - as has often been the case with Martin's other anomalies.  Got into a fairly basic Q&A session with him this morning, he knows he's in hospital and he knows where he hurts (that seems to be the areas you'd expect from his injuries). Anyway Martin got a bit excited and agitated (he also tried to lift himself into a sitting position - this is not allowed until the neurological department give the 'nod') so once again he was sedated slightly for his own good.  Someone from the orthopaedic (is that right ?) department came to look at his knee last night, since there has been swelling going on around the joint. We've not had any feedback on that yet.

Today our (ex) neighbours, from when we used to live in Lincoln 7 or 8 years ago, came to see us - typically I was not at the hospital, having agreed to take a break, then had a major fuel leek on Janet's car to sort.  But that's done now and I'm getting quite desperate to get back to Martin's bedside.  It is a strange force indeed that makes us feel we must be at or extremely near to our loved ones in times like this.  Often there is actually nothing at all that you can do whilst there - but just being there seems to be good enough.

STOP PRESS - Martin has been fairly conscious this afternoon and was much calmer than of late.  They took off the boxing glove and he did some tentative exploration of his body and the various medical 'interfaces' attached to it.  He was 'clicking his fingers' and responding well to questions. There's not much movement from the 'bad' side of his body - but that could be due to a number of factors.  We're not sure he is seeing things clearly, if at all, but seems to have a good understanding and grasp of his situation.  We're thinking of breaking open a bottle of 'diet coke' or maybe something a lot stronger to celebrate, as we see this as a significant step forward.  Next we'll have to wean him onto canteen chips.

Thursday 17th March 2005

Today was full of anguish as Martin was allowed to drift into a conscious state.  He was terribly frustrated and I would say extremely frightened.  Apparently this is not unusual and we were 'briefed' that an essential part of our support would be in  reassuring him, telling him he was above all 'safe', that he was in hospital, and that the wiring and plumbing were all there to help with his recovery.  Well we tried all that and he was not having any of it.  Priority one was figuring out how to get rid of the pipes going down his throat, an obvious source of much discomfort.  They are responsible for little things like breathing, feeding, and draining of fluid from the lungs.  His antics became so aggressive that they used a crepe bandage to wrap up his hand, he's only currently using his 'good' arm, into what they call a 'boxing glove'.  His arm looks rather like a long Q-Tip - but you'd never get it into your ear. The reason behind this was to restrain his fingers under the bandage such that he could only nudge and rub against things rather than grasp them.  Seemed like a good idea until we noticed that he'd taken advantage of part of the bed to 'work on' this boxing glove until his fingers were below a single layer of bandage.  Now he could use the large glove to conceal what his fingers were doing at surface level.  We had two occasions, at least, where he managed to disconnect the ventilator connections from the pipe going down his throat.  As predicted yesterday 'all hell' broke loose as staff dived to his bed to reconnect him.  After shaking his arm for hours to try and get the glove off, this was having a detrimental effect on his heart rate and blood pressure, so it was decided to sedate him slightly again so that he could get some rest.  This seemed to work OK.  There's no good news about his chest, the left (bad) side that is, as it seems they've come to the conclusion that this lung is totally collapsed within the cavity and will require some expert attention to try and re-inflate it and get it working again.  Tonight he's having a tracheotomy which should facilitate the removal of those awful pipes going down his throat.  We're just leaving now to return to the hospital to see how that's gone (20:00)

Wednesday 16th March 2005

(Midnight). Having taken over the 'helm' I find that the days events will be difficult to document (come back Gina - all is forgiven). Martin has had another roller coaster day with temperature problems, high pulse rates, blood pressure fluctuations, and well just about everything else you could image.  He managed a meaningful 'nod' for his sister (Gina) before she left for the station (and ultimately the Moray Firth) - something that I'm sure she'll treasure in her mind until she can next get to see him.  His latest chest X-ray, and subsequent CT scan have shown up some anomaly in the bad side of his chest that's deemed worthy of further investigation by some specialists. They're to take a look tomorrow.  This evening, after probing, tracing and pondering, Martin's decided he can single handedly remove most of the essential 'life preserving' tubes and wires from his body - at least given half a chance he will.  So we've been trying to calm him down a bit and restrain him (gently) from obvious attacks on this equipment.  The staff don't seem unduly worried about this, but I suspect they'd have a bit of a 'flap'  if he was successful - as all the alarm bells would start ringing, and they'd have to prioritise the reconnection order.  Some of you have no doubt noticed that I changed the 'classification' of his condition slightly yesterday to indicate that some real progress was being made  Whilst this apparent change does actually reflect what 'we' have seen, I'm reminded by the consultants here that Martin's official condition is still 'critical', and will only change when he's deemed well enough to go to a slightly less intensive care ward (that'll be the HDU - high dependency unit). Hope I've not missed anything out Gina? ........ whom I've just heard is partaking of a well earned pint of 'Stella' in her local pub in Forres, after a nightmare train journey (and emergency bus connection - due to flooded tracks somewhere in the Highlands - well what do you expect when Dad buys the cheapest ticket he can find...!!)

Tuesday 15th March 2005

If for the rest of the week it could be said that Martin took 3 steps forward, then yesterday was like having him take 3 steps back.  Back to the paralysed state, back to being heavily sedated, back in with chest drain, back to square one.  Thankfully the drain did alleviate some of the pressure and showed improvements on the X-ray.  There is still more fluid coming out of his chest cavity which basically allows room for his lungs to expand.  If his lungs can't move, then Martin can't breathe.  Although Martin is by no means out of the woods, he has shown some signs of recovery today; hand movements, blinking and nodding.  Lets just hope there will be no more Klingons on the starboard bow and he will continue going forward and not find reverse.  (I can see Martin cringing as I write this).  He got a bit 'lively' later on, tugging at, and eventually removing completely, his feed tube (naughty Martin !) and generally becoming a nurses' nightmare - so they've sedated him again (!!!).  I suppose it's for his protection (from himself). His chest is still draining away nicely, and although we now have the Gucci collar and a box of accessories for it, the aforementioned "Mr Humphries" of the 'collar department' has now 'turned up missing'. Of the days total activities, this morning's question- "would you like a radio to listen to Martin?" - followed by three definite nods of the head will sustain my courage until, at least, tomorrow.

STOP PRESS!!!!..............Collar now fitted.....HURRAH!!! 

VISITING........We feel, now Martin is beginning to recover and become more stable, that it is possible to lift the visiting restriction.  We'd still like to keep the numbers down to maybe a couple at a time as we don't get a lot of time with him ourselves and be aware, normal ward procedures still apply (handovers, patient turns etc where none of us are allowed in).

I myself (Gina) am leaving to go back to Scotland tomorrow ('Och Aye'), somewhat reluctantly, and will be handing over my webmaster powers to my Father (Jack, Jim, Dad). Any complaints you wish to make please pass them to him (hee hee).  I would just like to take this opportunity to personally thank the ward staff (yes they read this too) for their excellent care of Martin for the past Twelve days and also their care of him in the future.  I would also like to express my gratitude to the hundreds of people praying for Martin's recovery everyday and giving Mum, Dad and I the strength to cope through this strange alternate universe.  I will return post haste (I hope).

Monday 14th March 2005

Today has been a frustrating day - frustrating that is for us there at the hospital, as we've had minimal exposure to Martin. They started preparing him at about 10:30 for a trip down the corridor to the CT scanner and then onwards to the operating theatre, where he is to have a tracheotomy  to aid with his breathing. His CT scan was scheduled for 14:00 so by the time he returns to the ward it will be into the 16:00 - 19:30 'quiet' period.   Because of the moving and surgery they've also sedated him a bit deeper so he won't get flailing arms tangled in the scanner or perhaps have a fight with the surgeon later on.  I think they've sent to China for the collar - the one they were going to fit on Friday.  It has to be fitted by a specialist to ensure it doesn't do more harm than good - so I shall be watching for the "Mr Humphries" of the collar department and seeing if "he's free".   The ward staff have been fantastic - as ever - and regularly shave Martin and brush his teeth, when they're not engaged in more delicate medical procedures.  Bad news from the X-ray he's just had  - it shows that only one lung is working, the other is almost full of fluid - so another chest drain is going in to hopefully relieve that situation. This has also put the tracheotomy on hold. Martin has been put back into a paralysed state by drugs.  There was more than a little concern that perhaps he was semi aware at this time, obviously this would be very frightening for him.  Gina spent some time calming him down by explaining why he couldn't move and why this was being done.  The forest seems to be closing in on us a little at the moment.  Collar is now available - but they're not going to fit it.  It's been a bad bad day.

Sunday 13th March 2005

Martin has had a fairly reasonable night - temperature and blood pressure swinging from high to low in opposition mostly as a result of infections identified yesterday. A very good sign is that he's now doing some breathing for himself, allowing the ventilator  to take a well earned rest whilst he does so.  He's not 'back' with us yet but seems to be at least more aware of things going on around him - for instance when the nurse tries to clean out his mouth with the suction tube, Martin grits his teeth tightly closed - as if to say "no you don't".  Temporary (foam) collar fitted until 'Gucci' version available. 

The biggest challenge today is the chest infection he has - with horrible 'stuff' collecting in his lungs and making breathing very difficult. Regular stimulation of his lungs, via a device that is already fed into them, produces a coughing reaction which is disturbing to watch. I suppose the fact that most of his ribs are smashed on his left side would indeed make any such rapid chest movements extremely painful (ask anyone who's ever broken just one rib).  There has been some encouraging signs with his arm movements - even some dexterity of the fingers as he finds and tries to remove the sticky patches holding various tubes/wires to his body.  Hang on in there Martin! 

Saturday 12th March 2005

Although the news today is not bad, it is not particularly good either.  Martin's progress has been slowed by the worry that  his chest won't have the proper time to heal if we wake him up too early.  As you know he suffered severe chest injuries during the accident but it was the head injuries which had to be dealt with first.  There is nothing more they can do for his brain and now is the time to concentrate on making his chest better.  I'm afraid we may be in for a long wait though and it is very hard to sit back and let his body begin the natural healing process.  There's been little change over the day - some ups and some downs throughout. It is confirmed that a variant of the dreaded 'mrsa' bug has been contracted by him - but we were warned from the onset that this eventuality was almost certain.  We're definitely not out of the woods yet!!  Still no collar !!  A spark of hope this evening with some 'localizing' (trying to move arms to specific locations - such as towards ventilator pipes), and a possibility of voice recognition.  The latter is only a 'hunch' based on his eyelid movements in response to some commands we gave him - for example "if you can hear me open your eyes Martin".  Tomorrow is another day - in fact its day 10.

Friday 11th March 2005

A strange feeling has just swept over me as I realized that exactly one week ago, to the hour, that terrible accident occurred.  I am truly indebted to all those people whose professions involved them in the recovery, treatment and subsequent transportation of Martin from that dreadful scene to hospital, where more life saving treatment was necessary, and am aware that a weakness in any one of those links would have undoubtedly resulted in an end result that I prefer not to ponder within these pages.  We often underestimate the professionalism and skill of our emergency services until an incident such as this shows how good they all really are.

Lets hope Martin has a good nights sleep.  More later.....

Just heard from the hospital that Martin had a good rest last night and they decided this morning to take out the bolt in his head which reads the pressure in his brain.  Although we understand why this must be done, it's rather worrying that we will no longer have any idea of what is going on up there.  He is being fitted with a collar to limit his head movement and to protect his neck and spine during his waking stages.  We are unsure yet as to how much damage has been caused to the spine, he has two fractured vertebrae and time will only tell what implications this has although his movements yesterday were encouraging.  They are still keeping him sedated slightly but are expecting him to come round slowly later today.  The wait is agonising but we all have plenty of hope.

We have encountered a delay due to the collars being 'out of stock'.  Wouldn't you know, nothing 'off the peg' ever seems to fit and he is to have one tailor made.  Because of this they are not going to let much happen and will keep him fairly sedated until they are ready (or should I say, until Martin is ready).  There are infection risks from the drains and the bolt that were in his head and chest and there were signs of possible infection, but they are keeping these things at bay and they are causing no worry as yet.  His temperature had been high this morning but it is back down at the norm now.  We haven't had much time with him today and it has been incredibly frustrating, however, during our limited time with Martin, he was moving his limbs and clenching his fists.  His eyes flicker sometimes and he has reacted to pain.  These things are all positive signs but it is so difficult to know if he is reacting to you or to his own body signals.  It is a very traumatic time for those of us at his side and we feel so completely helpless, we only wish there was more we could do.

Hopefully I will have more to report tonight........

Unfortunately today has been full of unfilled expectations and set backs.  Although Martin's condition is fairly stable bar the odd anomaly, there are things that have to be done first before Martin can make real progression.  He hasn't yet been fitted with a collar and we are unsure as to why there is such a hold up but I guess we have to be very patient.  He has been moving more than ever and these are all a reason to hope.  We are worn out with grief and frustration but we are holding on to the belief that we will see some real evidence of recovery tomorrow.  

Thursday 10th March 2005

Martin's return to reality has been slowed due to some undesirable increases in other monitored readings.  Drug infusions and chemical balances are being adjusted to hopefully correct this, but until that has been achieved they'll probably keep him on 'hold'  for the short term.  More later......

......Martin's temperature, pulse rate and brain pressure were all up today which was worrying for us but we knew it was because his body was slowly coming round and having to deal with the things the drugs had previously disguised.  We had no way of knowing how his body would react and even with what the doctors said you can only ever expect it to be like it is on television, where they wake up slowly, look around the room and say "where am I?".  Unfortunately it doesn't work like that and we had to go through a very gut wrenching display of spontaneous bodily movements, or spasms.  We were assured that this was normal but it doesn't make it any easier.  His body is fighting against everything that they are using to save his life (and we all know Martin is a fighter!), and he also has a lot of fluid on his chest.  These spasms are his body trying to 'cough' and no indication of how he will be in the future.  We thank everyone who had planned to visit today and apologise for discouraging it, however it was very emotional for us seeing Martin in that way today and we didn't want it to upset anyone else.

It seems that all this heaving and fighting against the intrusive apparatus as detailed above, has literally worn him out today, so the nursing staff have rightly decided to increase the sedation so that he can have a good nights rest.  They've also sent us off home to do the same.  So it will be more of the same tomorrow as he again drifts back towards awareness.  I therefore request  Martins work colleagues to extend the restricted visiting until this phase has been passed.  I'll let you all know as soon as this restriction can be lifted. (Jack)

Wednesday 9th March 2005

The night remained uneventful but this was a positive sign as Martin was now relying on even less drugs than before.   It was one of those rollercoaster days today.  We spoke with the officer that was at the scene of the accident and  found out some more details we didn't previously know.  The car had impacted with two lampposts and a metal bus shelter before ending up on the metal railing fence.  We have since seen an article in the paper which you can view here: Newspaper Article  This, as you can imagine was very upsetting and gave us an idea of just how horrendous the crash was.  We also spoke to the neurosurgeon and another doctor who had worked on Martin.  We were very apprehensive that he was going to tell us bad news but it ended up being more of a brief to give us an idea of what to expect in the next 24hours and the implications they may bring.  We are coming to a very fantastic and delicate time for Martin, where the sedatives are wearing off, the paralyzing agent has been removed and some sort of a reaction is expected (or at least prayed for).  We have to be careful not to set our hopes too high as there are many things that could go wrong so we will have to be very patient.  We don't want to speculate on how things might be, just what is.  I couldn't imagine how I would feel waking up with a dozen tubes connected to me and running down my throat.  His temperature was still good and they planned to take the drain out of his skull later tonight.  He was given another unit of blood to replenish his system as he wasn't producing it well enough but this was nothing to worry about.

Tuesday 8th March 2005

Martin's condition remained steady during the night.  The ventilation blanket  succeeded in bringing down his temperature and was removed.  They have reduced the amount of his supplied oxygen from 60% to 40% which means the lungs are doing more for themselves; a good sign but there is still a long way to go.  The nurses are also steadily decreasing the drug which controls the heart rate because his heart is beginning to work better, but it is very difficult to get the balance right and needs to be constantly monitored.  Signs are good for today and he is looking generally a lot better.  He had many visitors and received loads of cards which we will read to him tonight.

Monday 7th March 2005

Following an uneventful night Martin was considered stable enough to begin reducing the amount of deep paralysing drug he was receiving to see whether or not it would create any extra pressure on his brain.  Meanwhile one of the drains in his chest cavity was removed as there was no more fluid coming through it.  This was a small change but created some extra hope for us.  His temperature was up today which could be the first sign of an infection and they have since covered him with a ventilation blanket to cool him down.  The doctors were also concerned that his heart output (circulation) was not as good as it should be and they have introduced another machine called a 'Pico' to try and better understand exactly what is going on in there.

Sunday 6th March 2005

Not much could be as bad as yesterday.  Through the night his oxygen levels improved and his condition had remained fairly stable.  Today Martin had many blood tests taken and he also had a chest x-ray.  This showed an improvement in his lungs as much of the fluid had been drained away.  The doctors warned us that Martin would almost certainly get a chest infection at some point, however it would be dealt with when the time came and for now they would deal with the 'real time' problems.  The blood tests showed no change from Saturday which was not expected after the treatment he was given, but other than that his condition was stable.

Saturday 5th March 2005

The bolt that was placed in his skull was reading 'minus15'...not right - would need to be investigated.  He was given his 7th unit of blood as he was still losing a lot of fluid out off his chest drains.  His appearance was very swollen and we even had to remove a ring from his finger as it became too tight.  Today Martin had to go for a CT scan to assess the pressure on his brain and to see how the bad the cranial bleed was.  Result was not good and it meant he would have to go into surgery to remove a piece of skull to allow the brain to swell.  During surgery they were to clean away any cranial bleeding and remove any damaged brain tissue.  There was a long wait and finally we got the results.  The operation did not go as well as expected, there was a lot of bleeding and he was given a 50/50 chance of survival.  Probability of brain damage is very high.  The bolt measuring the pressure on his brain was changed and this one was reading correctly (positive values!) although the pressure was very high.

Friday 4th March 2005

Martin was admitted into Ward 11 Multiple injuries unit.  He was covered in blood and the extent of his injuries was explained to us:-  Severe chest and Head trauma, cracked and flailing ribs, skull fractures...not good.  Two tubes were fed into his chest to drain the fluids trapped there.  He filled the containers rapidly and he was given about 6 units of blood.  He was kept heavily sedated and was given a variety of drugs to prevent any movement which may cause unnecessary damage.  He had a huge scar on his face which they stitched up fairly quickly and then they had to determine how much pressure there was on his brain.  This meant drilling into the skull and placing a small bolt inside which measures the pressure.