Jars

I have jars sussed, although I need to move from the kitchen to the sofa to do it. It I put the jar between my thighs, I can generally use my hand to undo the lid.

Although I get there in the end, it takes that much longer, as you can imagine. It’d be far easier if I could have my other arm back!

Inheritance and Cycling

When I made my will, I basically worded it so as to prevent my daughter from inheriting my estate, should I outlive my wife. I mean, I wish her all the very best in life, but she has never been (and still isn’t) very responsible with money, and when I think how much my estate would be worth (several hundred thousand GBP) it is quite scary. I mean, there’s not much cash, but the value of the property has risen several times over since I bought the house almost 20 years ago.

Anyway, I made my will a couple of years ago, and nothing much has happened to change my sentiment, but I regularly hear about cases in which the person’s will has been overturned by their children, who feel wronged. One such story was on TV this morning, and so this prompted me to contact the solicitor who drafted the will, just to see if I should change the language to make my wishes more explicit, as if that were possible.

This is something I have been meaning to do for a while, although events have kind-of got in the way!

On a less morbid note, it may be very overcast here, but in Italy I see that today is the Milan-San Remo cycling race, which is a traditional curtain-raiser to the European cycling season. Since the season for road racing generally follows the good weather (Spring Classics to start, rising to the Tour de France in July, World Championships in September, then trailing off in the autumn), might it possibly be assumed that winter is finally on its way out?

St Paddy’s (2)

As a very brief follow-on from yesterday’s post, I saw a wonderful video on Facebook. Victor Meldrew is alive and well!

St Paddy’s

I’d like to wish everyone a happy St Patrick’s Day.

Tins

I should say that tins give me trouble these days – can you imagine trying to open one with just one hand? Even those newer easy-open tins are not trivial.

I was very unimpressed when I got up the other day, to find that our cats had no food, and so I dug out the only appetizing thing that I found in the cupboard – a tin of salmon, un a traditional tin can. There then followed 10 minutes of frustration as I battled to get the thing open. Suffice it to say, when I finally got to the salmon, it wasn’t in a nice round tin any more, and at one stage I did resort to using the tin opener as a hammer in frustration!

So, two lessons. First, I went to the shops and replaced the salmon, this time buying one with an easy-open lid (which I hope, in my case, will mean “easier open” – I can generally manage as long as I use my teeth too). I can’t help thinking how perverse it is – that this kind of thing drives our buying choices. Second, I went out yesterday and bought an electric can opener, one that can be operated with just one hand.

The cats, by the say, said thank you…eventually!

There really are a myriad of gadgets – especially kitchen gadgets – where, beforehand, I used to think “what’s the point in that?”, but for which I’m now grateful. My little electric cheese grater is another example. But it does make me realise in all of this that I’m very lucky to have a bit of money tucked away when such things crop up – I would hate to be financially dependent on anybody else.

Well, I did say at the outset that this blog was going to be about my life – but I never promised it’d be interesting!

Job Done

I had two major commitments this week, and managed to sort them both today.

First and foremost, I had an appointment at the eye clinic at the local hospital. Unspectacular, in that my eyes are about as good as they were last time. But it’s good news if you take a longer-term view. I have had problems caused by diabetes for the last couple of years, but there has been no decrease in my vision for the last 6 months. Of course, this is the same kind of time frame as my stroke, and I’ve paid a lot more attention to my sugar since then. And the treatment I had 6 months ago, the consultant told me that they started with this treatment 5 years ago, so every time I see him he has statistics over that much longer a period. Promising. Also, I’m used to being pretty anonymous at these places, but today I happened to see my neighbour (who has MS) and his wife, so I had a little natter about nothing.

My second chore of the day was up at the hospital again (hence my combining the two things), and this was my regular drop-in to the stroke ward. There’s a lovely old boy there at the moment, his stroke has affected his speech so you have to be very patient, and listen carefully. He said that he hoped I could meet his wife at some point, and that he admired me (the last time we met, I’d told him about my own stroke and told him about my dead arm). I mean, this guy is really ever so intelligent, he’s just had all this shit happen to him, and he says he admired me. People can be so kind….

Anyway, that means that this week’s obligatory tasks are now complete. Actually I have another task planned, but this one is purely pleasure – tomorrow my wife (who has the week off) is driving me up to Oxford to have some lunch with an old friend, She had an operation just before Christmas, so she, like me, is recovering. This’ll be my furthest trip since the stroke.

Driving

Believe it or not, until about 5 years ago, I used to own a Porsche 911. It was a beautiful car, in fact I chose my featured image because it shows the same model and colour (although it is actually just a stock photo and mine was a cabriolet). I’d owned this car for years but for the last few I just drove it back and forth to the rail station, about 11km (7-8 mi) away. I had some expensive things go wrong with the car, and coincidentally, wanted to reduce my footprint.

I decided to buy a smaller car. Ideally I’d have liked a Smart car, although at that time my daughter was still living at home, so although the car mostly had an occupancy of just one, on occasion I needed for the car to seat all three of us.

The best car I found was a Toyota iQ. Although I always thought it was a bit ugly, I was impressed by the gadgetry, which most cars of that size/economy lacked. “Small” tended to equate to “bottom of the range”. So I went and bought one. Not that I could bring myself to part with the Porsche, however, this sat on the driveway for another six months!

By M 93 – Self-photographed, Attribution, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7092528

I happily drove the iQ around for years, but in the meantime, Toyota obviously decided that the car was a flop, and ceased production.

Then, of course, the stroke took out my left hand, and I was unable to change gear (in the UK, our cars are right-hand drive and 90% of them are manual, so the left hand is required for changing gear). We still have the car – my wife prefers it to the family car that she used to drive, also daughter has since moved out so we don’t need anything so big.

For a few months after the stroke, my eyesight was such that I wouldn’t have been able to drive, period. However that has improved by now, although obviously I still have issues with my arm. I think it would be possible to drive an automatic – possibly I may need to modify it, but this is do-able at a price.

I always liked the iQ, and Toyota did make an automatic version, although since they no longer make the car, I’m restricted to the secondhand market. So that’s where I’m at currently – the only trouble is, these cars seem to be like rocking horse poo – very rare indeed! Especially as I’d need my wife to take me to the dealer for a test-drive, and I’m reluctant to make her drive any distance.

Theme Change

If anyone has been following this blog so far, I decided to play with the theme this morning. I’m sorry. The content is unchanged.

The first sign of health problems was trouble with my eyes – retinopathy – a couple of years ago. The first line of treatment was laser surgery – I knew no better at the time so didn’t object. This zapped the leaky cells at the back of my eyes. But the laser also zapped some good cells too. The upshot was that, as a combination of these two things, my eyesight is now less than perfect. I’ve never really been able to find the words to describe it accurately, but it is a bit like seeing everything as if you’re in a smoky room.

The upshot is that a bit of contrast seems to help. I did like the old pastel theme but, to be honest, stronger colours help when I preview the blog. And, since at the moment I’m probably the only person who looks at it, I started playing. It might not be over, although I do like the general “orangey” themes that I’ve used to date.

The irony of the laser surgery was that it didn’t stop the leaky blood vessels, so I lost a part of my sight for no gain. The follow-on treatment was to have some injections into my eye. Sounds like torture, doesn’t it? All I can say is that whilst the thought of the treatment is terrible, the injections themselves aren’t so bad. They anaesthetise your eyes beforehand (drops), so it feels quite removed from a “regular” injection. As far as I know, these injections are not-at-all destructive (although I suppose there is always the chance that they don’t help, either), so you’d think that they would be the preferred treatment. But again it all boils down to cost, and this really annoys me. Laser surgery is cheaper than these injections, so they try to laser your eye first.

As an aside, it is now a good 6 months since I had this treatment (last summer), I still have regular scans (in fact, I’m due one next week), and not only has the decrease in my eyesight been halted, it has been reversed slightly. To give an idea of the scale of this, it is often difficult to recognise detail immediately – it takes that little bit longer. The consultant says that I am still above the threshold at which I’m able to drive, although obviously the effects of the stroke make this problematic. I’ll talk about driving at some point.