Disabled and desperate

Over 50, Overweight, Life feels over

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07/01/2009 at 07:47

Wooohooo, what a great post, Patootie!!! That's really given my day a happy start.

What a startling difference in the heating from your old place. I hadn't realised it would be anything like that dramatic. But cold is really uncomfortable, and if your mobility is at all limited it's that much harder to get warm and keep warm, so this is really good news. No wonder you got depressed, living in a place where you were cold and stiff all the time!

And it's quite right that your mood should be brighter too. 'I feel better than I have done for 10 years or so'---Hooray!! And more power to your elbow, ma'am, cos that's just exactly what you resolved a year ago when you first joined our merry band, remember? It's great to know that the forum has helped (it's helped all of us, I think, certainly me) but YOU are the one who has done everything, from the first little outing on your mobility scooter (remember?) to the little matter of moving house and changing your life, so you should award yourself a giant gold star!!

And by the way, please don't forget how much you help all the rest of us too. Your energy, determination and optimism have inspired me so often; your thoughtful and perceptive accounts of the people, animals, places and events around you have made me think; and your evil sense of humour has had me laughing out loud. I mean, what else could I want in a friend? So I think we're lucky that you came on here!

I now wait with GREAT interest to see what your projects for this year will be....!!!! xx

07/01/2009 at 09:13


08/01/2009 at 22:09

YES! That's just the right kind of star!

Did anything ever come of that idea that you would help advise the management of the building? You were thinking of doing some training provided it didn't get in the way of your disability benefits. You would just be so good at that kind of thing, I do hope they found a way to get you into that!

After a quiet start to the week a whole raft of urgent problems descended on me at work and I'm just closing the work programmes now so forgive me if I don't chat so much tonight, I'm just knackered! xxx

09/01/2009 at 13:02

Next week I am on a 2 day training course for being a 'residents representative' to sit on new staff interview panels .. the likelihood is I would only sit in on maybe 3-4 interviews per year .. but you do have a real say in which person gets the job on offer .. and this is 'ad hoc' enough that it doesn't affect my benefit situation ..

And there are other things I might join in with ..

09/01/2009 at 23:47

Toots, that's great news. You have really moved SUCH a long way this year (well, you said you were going to change your life, and by Jove, you have!) that you are really ready for another challenge, and something like this sounds perfect. You're such an encouraging person, you would be good at helping interviewees relax and be themselves; but at the same time you're a perceptive observer and a shrewd judge of character and you wouldn't miss much.

The choice of staff for any residential setting is genuinely critical, because the not only do the specified job, but they also contribute such a lot to the overall atmosphere, so your joining the interview panel is really a good idea. And of course it might also lead on to further involvement of other kinds, as you said.

Do let us know what the training courrse is like---would be interesting to know what kind of things they think you should know!

I shall be one of only 5 people in the entire country who is not going to spend the entire weekend on skates. It's been years since there was a sufficiently long, sufficiently cold period for the canals and lakes to really freeze properly, and the entirely opulation of the Netherlands intends to take advantage of it by skating on 'nature ice', as they call it, for as long as it lasts. And it must be a lovely way to see the countryside, just gliding along. I shall remain warm and dry and admire them on the evening news!!

But for now I'm off to bed--sleep tight! xx

10/01/2009 at 10:07

When I was a little girl I remember seeing on the BBC local news the 'Hollanders' going out onto the canals and seeing them skating .. and the reason it was on the local news was because where I lived in the Cambridgeshire Fens in wintertime some of the fields just up the road to me would be flooded so they would freeze for skating .. they held tournaments and various competitions .. so we were being compared with each other   ..

I'm not so sure your 'Hollander' friends will be seeing much of the countryside though .. won't the banks be too high for them to see over ..  .. and I've no idea why the BBC would have called them 'Hollanders' but I am pretty sure I have remembered that correctly

Sadly I was never allowed onto the ice as my mother was too scared I'd fall over ...  and mainly because she didn't like it ... bizarrely as children we were rarely allowed to do 'fun' things ... 

Coincidentally .. they have flooded some fields not far from where I used to live (last time it was cold enough was in 2000) and they have been skating all week .. I'm not sure I would trust the ice on a canal .. it's deep and a long way to fall through .. but 'flooded field' skating is very safe as the water is no more than 6 inches or so deep.

10/01/2009 at 17:40

That's an interesting recollection, Patootie. And not entirely surprising. During the late middle ages there was a massive trade in wool between England and what was then Flanders, and I think quite a lot of Dutch people moved into East Anglia. The landscapes are rather similar, too, being basically marshy land that has been slowly drained so it wouldn't be surprising if the affection for skating was shared.

As to seeing the landscape, there's no problem with banks here. The water table is so high that they have to lift the land up above the water, if you follow me, so if you are on land at all you are by definition at least a bit higher that whatever else is around! And calling people here 'Hollanders' is frowned on, you hear it quite often. Of the original seven provinces that make up the Netherlands (there are now 10, I think, due to new ones being added as more land has been reclaimed from the sea), two---North Holland and South Holland--are correctly called Holland (obviously!). But to the call the whole place Holland, or the people Hollanders, is as accurate as calling the whole of the British Isles 'England' and all the people there 'Englanders'.

What a shame your mum kept you quite so safely wrapped up as a kid! But am I right in thinking that you had some ill health even then? I think it'w quite a challenge for a mother with a more vulnerable child to know exactly where to draw the line between prudence and over-protectiveneess.

And they do have artificially flooded areas here too for people to skate on; but canal skating is the best cos you can get right out into the country. Of course you do have to be careful about the ice, and every now and then someone falls through, but the canals are not too deep here, maybe 3 feet. The bigger risk is on the larger bodies of water, lakes and larger canals, and skating on these is treated more carefully. There are people who are experts in telling whether the ice is thick enough: they drill holes, and make calculations, and so on, before they advise people to go out on it.

Ironically, of course, most of the injuries simply happen because of people falling over--and in fact there were so many of those today that the hospital nearest the big skating events had to call in help from the Army medical corps! But I saw lots of kids and families out skating here on the small local lakes and canals, and it looked wonderful. They were having such a great time, out in the fresh air, taking this cold weather and making a treat out of it. Beautiful!

How are your birds surviving the cold? We are putting out lots of seeds, and dried bread and so on. This cold weather has gone on for so long that the poor things really need some help now.

10/01/2009 at 20:02

 appologies if the 'Hollanders' reference was offensive .. it's just how i remembered it from my childhood .. way back in the 1950's when there was no thought given to being 'PC' about where folks came from ... !

Did you know that in Lincolnshire, which is the county next to mine, one of the council districts is called 'South Holland'  .. it also has quite a lot of windmills .. 16 in all .. in fact my old village still has a working windmill .. and several more local places have working windmills that have open days for the public to go and see how it all works ..


My parents were brought up with Baptist and Methodist religions (very dour and restrictive in 'fun' religions) .. both of which seem to frown on small children enjoying themselves ... children should not be seen or heard .. my older sister was also completely restricted from doing any 'exciting' pursuits .. neither of us were allowed to join the Brownies, Girl Guides, youth clubs or in fact do any activities away from home .. yet when we were at home we were supposed to sit quietly and be 'studious' . . all too often we were sent to seperate rooms to play on our own ..

We rarely had music in the house .. I didn't even know there were such wonderful things as classical music until I left home at 16 .. anything 'arty' was frowned on by my mother .. even going to the cinema was frowned on .. I think I only went 2-3 times from 12-16 years old .. and I dare say I had to sneaked out even then .. when I started work at 16 I had no idea what yoghurt was .. had never eaten any 'foreign' foods .. had never eaten out in a restaurant .. and didn't even know how to make coffee ... coffee not being allowed in our house.  Everyine else at work seemed so 'sophisticated' and 'worldlywise' compared to me and I got teased terribly .. just as i had been badly bullied at school for being 'different'

It's no wonder my sister went half way round the world to Australia to get away from home ... I sometimes wish I had followed her  .. I made my 'escape' by getting married far too young .. to a really lovely man .. but a man I probably wasn't really in love with ... so inevitably the marriage slowly shuddered to a messy end.

The birds are really struggling here .. but we do have a lot of bird feeders out which folks keep well stocked .. in fact I have at least two pigeons roosting on my bedroom windowsill every night .. I am leaving my small bedroom window open so the heat escapes and keeps them warm hehehe .. normally I'd shoo them off .. but with the temps being down to -5C over night I don't begrudge them being there .. I'm also getting a lot of little birds sitting on my lounge windowsill .. and they line up to sit in all the warm places .. they seem to take turns having a warm .. then off they go again to find more food ...

12/01/2009 at 22:04

Oh Patootie, what a sad childhood! It sounds so dour, and restrictive, and so lacking in either fun or joy. It's amazing that you didn't do anything worse than marry the wrong man. Most people would have really gone over the deep end after that kind of upbringing!

What is truly amazing is that you have become such a warm, kind, humorous, understanding and perceptive person. You must have thought very hard about things at some time, because you had a big gulf to bridge there between who you had been brough up to be and who you really are. How sad most of all for your parents, who seem to have missed virtually all the fun of having a family. Probably they had their own limited upbringing, it seems to go on like that.

On a happier note, I'm glad the birds are able to come and warm their toes at your window )) Over here, where it's been so cold, we've been putting out food every day---the fat balls and nuts and so on, but over the last few days really anything else we could find as well: outdated boxes of breakfast cereal, handfuls of bread, leftover pastry. When it's this cold they are glad to have anything extra.

But the weather is breaking now: it's windy and raining. I just hope it warms up pretty fast, so that the rain doesn't freeze lying on the cold ground, then it's slippery and treacherous on the cycle paths .But the last few days have been so lovely, it's been worth it! Just wish I could ice skate so I could go out on the canals and lakes like everyone else in the country! I'm going to see if I can learn.... (famous last words...)

When does your training for residents' representative start? And do you have any idea what that will involve???

15/01/2009 at 20:13

<calls loudly>

PaTOOOtieee, where aaaaare you????

You doing all right up there?

Here we have gone from frozen and bright to damp and grey. But it's not long now til the first signs of spring will appear, so no complaints! But you were talking about the skating, and today is the 100th anniversary of the Friesche Elf Steden, the society that organises the Elfstedentocht whenever it freezes hard enough. This is a 200 km skating tour that goes across country on frozen canals and touches on 11 cities in the north of the country. The winners finish in about 7 hours (average speed: 30 kph), and there is a cutoff at 12 hours. Since they are skating in VERY cold conditions (the last time they held it, in 1997, they set off in temperatures of -28 C with a hard wind) and they spend the first 2 or 3 hour skating in pitch dark, with only head torches, it is not for the fainthearted. If you like this sort of thing, have a look at the pictures on this site:


 It's in Dutch, but you will get the idea!

16/01/2009 at 04:15

I'm here .. I'm here ...  .. just having one of my 'awkward' weeks .. sleep patterns all to crock .. tired all day .. but can't sleep at night .. flippin' fibro .. sometimes I could get 'quite cross' .. next week I shall probably find I can't keep awake ..

That's a long way to skate isn't it .. interesting photos from the war years .. for some reason I instantly thought of the Dutch Resistance .. and how they probably used the canals to move people and supplies around .. very brave people ..

Interestingly we have just had a dramatisation of the Anne Frank Diary on BBC TV ... I first read her story Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl as a teenager when I also was a teenager .. I was deeply moved by it .. it's a 'voice' for the hundreds of poor souls who were in similar terrible circumstances throughout the war ..

The BBC dramatisation included interviews from some of the people who helped the Franks .. and a very poignant interview from Mr Frank made shortly before his death. Sigh ... how could such 'madness' ever have happened .. !

One fine warm summer many years ago I was sat on a bench in Leicester Square waiting for my then partner to bring back some ice creams .. I sat next to an elderly gentleman who was in his shirt sleeves .. by chance I saw the faded tattooed number on the inside of his wrist .. I couldn't help but stare .. in my mind a whirling kaleidoscope of terrible images took my breath away .. unbidden  hot tears fell .. I stuttered an apology for my rudeness in staring .. told him I was humbled to meet with him .. he took my hand .. thanked me 'for knowing' ... and then with great dignity slowly walked off  ... that's one of my most treasured lifes moments ..

Sorry .. that was all rather 'dark' wasn't it .. and all that from seeing folks skating on the canals .. I'd have loved to learn to skate .. and ski .. must be huge fun just gliding along .. a chance to dress up in nice warm clothes .. and of course nice warming drinks afterwards ... heheeh

Of course I am far too afraid of falling or pulling muscles these days to try any 'extreme' sports .. anything more than a few minutes gently 'warm up' exercises is enough for me .. but I am slowly starting to do more each month .. walking a bit further .. walking a bit faster .. trying to move my sluggard body about a bit more .. little by little I am seeing some progress .. and more importantly my 'recovery' times from exercise are becoming shorter .. just a year ago tackling 2-3 steps would mean I was in pain and stiff for 2-3 days .. now that's down to 2-3 hours ... what a difference ..

18/01/2009 at 20:56

Patootie. what a grand post---how do you do it, when the fibro is going haywire? I hope it's settled down by now, anyhow.

Your story about meeting that man in the park was wonderful. I will remember it. Your recognition of what he had experienced, and your willingness to acknowledge it, must have meant a great deal to him. I don't think people who went through the war were ever really the same afterwards, no matter what their involvement was.

One of the most dignified and admirable things about the Netherlands is that they never forget, but they don't get tangled up in a lot of words. 5 May is the date the country was liberated, and the evening before 4 May, is the 'doodenherdenking'--the remembrance of the dead. There is a very impressive national obeservance in the Dam in Amsterdam, pretty much like what we do at the Cenotaph, but what's more moving is that in almost every village and town in the country there are local observances. In my village there is a 'stille tocht', a silent procession: we gather in one of the lanes about 7.30 pm, and then set off toward the local war memorial. The civic dignitaries are there, and there are representatives from the military services, the Red Cross etc, but the majority of the 400+ people are just normal citizens: old people who can still remember the war, people like us who grew up afterwards, children who are told about it so they don't forget. We walk in silence the quarter mile or so to the war memorial, where a band is waiting. They play suitably sober music (including some of the well known hymns like 'Abide With Me' which has Dutch words) while people file slowly past the monument, most stopping to lay flowers, everything from formal wreaths from societies to handfuls of flowers from gardens. At 8 pm precisely the band plays the national anthem and there is a 3 minute silence. Sometimes the mayor gives a short address, usually directed to the children, and then people walk back to their cars or bikes and go home. There is no florid oratory, no attempt to blame people or perpetuate bitterness, just an acknowledgement of what happened and a determination that it must never happen again.

Dear me, not sure how I got off on that. But in some way it's a fitting counterpart to Mr C's listening to the concert for the Obama inauguration. That feels like the change of an era to me, and cderatinly no one has ever taken on the job of US president with a heavier legacy to struggle with.  Nobody knows what he'll make of it, but I surely wish him well.

And how great that your fitness is coming on! With the fibro being so touchy I know you have to be very careful, but it's a VERY good sign that your recovery times are getting so much shorter. That's a very important indication that your fitness really is improving. And hopefully once the spring comes, you will have the chance to get out a bit more and that will give some new opportunities to do nice things too.

20/01/2009 at 20:14

<gives usual melifluous call>

PaTOOOtie, where AAAARE you? You OK up there? Or is the fibro on the march again? If it is, then don't even THINK of posting til you feel better!

But when you DO feel better, do drop in and let us know what's going on. Have you been watching the inauguration and all that? We've just seen it. I'm sure Obama was the best candidate, and I wish him very well in what is a truly superhuman task. That said, I found his speech quite disappointing, though I'm not sure why.

Anyway, look in when you feel like it, OK? We miss you! xx

20/01/2009 at 20:42

 I was here just nudiustertian ... yet I can hear the eerie echoing ullulations of a distraught room mate .. now I don't mean to honeyfuggle you too much ... but I am always goshbustified when you miss me ..

And just a thought ... if two negatives make a positive, how many positives does it take to make a negative?

 Hehhehehhahahahhhhhehhehhhh !!!!

Edited: 20/01/2009 at 20:48
21/01/2009 at 22:04

Just come back from my first 'big' meeting .. I seem to have 'volunteered' for two new 'tasks' ..

Firstly I am the new Voluntary Estate Inspector for my sheltered housing complex  .. sounds a lot grander than it really is .. I just get to know when all the services and contractors should arrive .. like the window cleaner, gardening, cleaners etc ... and 'loosely' make checks they have been and done a good job .. no different to what you would do in your own home when you pay for services ..  

And secondly .. I am going to get a little bit more involved in how the actual letting process works .. mainly using my own experiences of moving .. working with my own housing people and the local council .. and just to help make it a better experience mainly for elderly or disabled people ..

And that's about as much as I want to get involved in for the time being .. plenty to keep me busy and to get my teeth into .. but nothing so demanding that it will become a nuisance .. or cause me any 'other' problems ..

Edited: 21/01/2009 at 22:09
23/01/2009 at 12:10


I am really excited .. I have just ordered an electric bathlift ..

Bathlift ... not something I ever thought I would get excited about .. but having searched for weeks and weeks to find the right product I can say .. I have found it ... at a stonkingly good price ..and I am very excited about it  


It goes really low into the water .. less than 2.5" high (most are around 4-5") ... and rises to a 'near normal' seating height of 19" (most are between 12-15") .. this means I will feel really safe getting up from the bathlift. It also slpits into two pieces .. which means I can easily remove it to clean the bath properly and more importantly take it with me if I take a few days away .. and this also means I no longer have to pay 'extra' just to get disabled rooms with a shower ..

You know I really will have to start a new thread ... I feel so different to that poor 'wretched'  woman who felt so lost and emotional .. I think it's time to 'divorce' her and start afresh ... anyone got any suggestions for the new thread name ??

Edited: 23/01/2009 at 12:11
25/01/2009 at 00:14

Oh, Patootie, what a lot of great news! It's brilliant that the housing people have recognised your intelligence and talent and are making use of it. Seeing that services are being provided properly is essential  for effective administration, and you are sharp-eyed and sensible and will know if things are being done as they should be.

And I really loved the idea of your helping other people with the moving process. It's always an upheaval to move, and for elderly or disabled people, who may be rather sad about leaving their homes, it must be very trying indeed.  Having someone with the experience and imagination to help make it as easy as possible will mean more to them than they will be able to say.

Aaaand a snazzy new bath lift! They can make SUCH a difference to people who don't feel secure clambering in and out, but I had never realised you could actually take them with you when you travel. What a liberation!

I can entirely understand why you feel it's time to start a new thread---you have come such a long way that the old title definitely doesn't fit any more! So what's the opposite of 'Disabled and desperate'? 'Abled and optimistic' sounds a bit lumpy, I feel! 'Capable and purposeful' makes you sound like a particularly terrifying matron of a large hospital: and while you would no doubt have been superb in that role, you aren't quite so intimidating in your present incarnation, thank goodness. What about something like 'Moving right along'? Let me think about this---but if I know you, you'll already have the right title in your mind.


Lawks, it's 1.15 am, time for me to go to bed! Sleep tight, Patootie,---and feel really, really good about yourself, because all these exciting developments are entirely down to YOU!!!!

25/01/2009 at 00:18

 .. I must have felt the vibes of you posting .. came in just 5 minutes behind you .. allowing for the one hour time difference of course  

 I don't think I explained my 'helping with the letting' part very well .. I am going to be helping revise the actual 'paperwork process' of searching for and being selected for a flat .. I wouldn't be allowed to help folks personally .. but if we can make the process better .. that will help folks and their families ..

Edited: 25/01/2009 at 00:24
25/01/2009 at 10:33

Oooh, telepathy. I love it. I have it with one or two of my closest friends, always startles me but it's nice.

I think the paperwork is often the most daunting part of a move, especially for people who may feel hesitant about their dealings with authority, often from having been in a vulnerable position for some time. They can be terrified of making a mistake because for them the consequences can be so serious. So I STILL say: involving you is a briliant idea.

And by the way: one of the reasons you have the determination and energy to do all this is because even if the fibro keeps you off the road now, in your heart you're still a runner! Don't forget that, you earned that honourable title!

26/01/2009 at 12:34

Been thinking about the new thread title ... how about ...

 "New lifestyle  - Feeling good - Moving on"

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