Guess who’s back…

I’ve decided to get back into this blogging malarkey because I sort of missed doing it, because Doris keeps giving me a hard time about not doing it and because, as you may remember, I’ll do pretty much anything for a quiet life or a bacon sandwich.

All kinds of things have changed since I last wrote anything but one thing that hasn’t changed is my ability to swear whilst I’m writing. I won’t ever drop the C-Bomb but everything else is fair game so with that in mind, Please don’t let children look at this site, it’s not intended for little blokes.

Also, if you’re the type to burst into tears at the slightest thing, do yourself a favour and bugger off now. My writing style is lazy, bordering on illiterate, and I generally write the way I speak. Take it all with a pinch of salt and we’ll be cool, start whining at me and we’ll fall out.

Right… let’s begin, good luck.

Andy

Sky Chicken…

Every 12/18 months we play a little game we like to call “Sky Chicken”, the premise is simple. Our contract comes to an end and with it the previous year’s discount ends too. Our package reverts to normal price and we instantly cancel our account citing the price as the reason.

The first time you call Sky they make a few noises and a rather feeble attempt to get you to stay. You ask for a discount and they might offer a tenner off if you’re lucky – the people you talk to first are the worker bees, they have no authority and can’t issue discounts. Worker Bees are to be ignored at all costs.

Things go quiet once your cancellation are underway, this is the first stage of Sky Chicken and you shouldn’t panic.
A couple of weeks before the scheduled switch off you’ll receive either a telephone call or a letter/leaflet offering you something if you stay. This is stage two and you must stick to your guns. They’ll tell you that they can’t give you a better deal and if you insist on cancelling they’ll reluctantly let you go – Ignore them!

The final stage of Sky Chicken is most important, but it takes nerve… it may be 24hrs before the scheduled turn off or it may be just a couple of hours before the service is due to end that the call you’ve been waiting for comes.
You’ll find yourself talking to the “Customer Retention Team” and these are the boys and girls you want. These blokes can give you a decent discount and we’ve never, ever, failed to agree a new deal at this stage. They may give you 50%, they may offer a new package such as Sky Q as a special offer, they may chuck a bunch of channels in to make it more attractive but the key is, they will offer something… cha-ching!

As a footnote – I do know someone who has failed in a game of Sky Chicken. The toe-rags at Sky refused to be fleeced and my pal had to start over, total bummer. This is not totally 100% so don’t be surprised if you’re suddenly watching highlights of the Grand Prix instead of watching it live. Cheers then.

Birthday Boy

No1 son has morphed into a Ten year old. The change took place last weekend but, luckily, we’ve not suffered any ill effects. I’m not convinced that we’ll be as lucky when he turns thirteen, but one step at a time.

At this stage I’m meant to wax lyrical about Tom, about what a wonderful little man he is, how he’s incredibly kind and talented and how he’s absolutely certain to become Prime Minister, or Captain of the World [which is what her indoors reckoned he’d be whilst about 3 seconds after giving birth to him all those years ago]

We usually give the boys the option of a party or a day trip, Tom chose the latter, destination, Warner Brothers Studios and the Harry Potter Tour – sadly the first available daytime slot was September, so that went South. By the time we realised his trip wasn’t going to happen it was too late for a party and as he was at a Karate Competition in London the day before his Birthday so we couldn’t even take him out.

The boys have started a new Birthday tradition, or rather, Nanna, has. She takes them off into town on the Bus and they then do a monster tour of the toy shops. She brings them back on the bus but also stops off for a pit-stop and feeds them loads of rubbish at a suitable venue.
Little things like that let the boys know that people not in the immediate family actually care about them. Sadly we’re a small family and there’s only the four of us plus my Mum. My Dad is a dead loss, there are a few Aunties on Christine’s side but that’s about it. My pal, Steve, is Godfather to both boys and he never-ever forgets them at Birthday and Christmas time. He’s not so great at visiting but he still sees them far more than other people who claim to be interested but who never seem to manage to actually live up to the commitments they made in church – not to worry though, as we always say, it’s their loss and we don’t lose any sleep over them.

Tom scored around £60 in his cards, and he’s determined to spend every penny of it! He inherited my money gene and whenever he has some he’s always looking for something to spend it on. George is more like Chris and saves all of his money, he’s probably got more than me tucked away, which isn’t hard.

George has already begun the countdown to his Birthday, I can’t wait to see what [if anything] the Postman brings him…

Un-sodding-believable

Around 18 months ago I managed to put my hand into the spinning blade of a circular saw. I wasn’t paying attention to what I was doing, started daydreaming and absently-mindedly reached towards the blade to grab the offcut from the wood I was cutting. You always grab the offcut because if it simply drops it can tear the cut and make a mess… the problem I had was that there was no offcut, so I simply stuck my hand into the blade, lopped off half a finger and then sliced each of the remaining fingers diagonally. One was held on by a thread and the other three were simply severed. I needed a 4hr operation to stitch the nerves and ligaments back together and lost the feeling in two fingers – I’ll never do that again.

Yesterday [June 17th 2019] I did it again

Luckily this time wasn’t as bad. It wasn’t a circular saw this time though, it was a Table Saw, a Table Saw with MUCH more power than the circular saw. The saw I was using yesterday could cut my arm off without thinking twice about it, so losing the end of another finger was a bloody lucky escape!
This time it wasn’t a case of daydreaming, it was just an unfortunate accident. I’d been cutting boards from a 75mm square length and simply reached forward to retrieve the length so I could cut the final board… CLANG! that’s the sound your finger makes when it comes into contact with the blade. The second sound to fill the air is “oh for fuck sake, not again!”

My initial fear was that I’d lopped the finger off, then I thought I’d split the bugger down the middle, but as it turned out I’d simply been bitten by the blade. It made a mess, it hurt a bit and it bled enormously, but there was no need for a hospital trip as there was nothing to stitch, just a mash of pulp. I’ve only lost about a centimetre or so of finger, maybe not even that [I’ve not measured it] and although it’s still bleeding, some 24hrs after the initial accident, it’s only doing so when I use it. Today is a rest day, I’ll keep it clean, change the dressing and rest up, then tomorrow, we go again… gah!

…Bugger!
Tell me that doesn’t look like a Hot Dog

Mummy, wow!

I’ve not written anything for a while but I’m not too bothered, that’s not how this is meant to work. This incarnation of the website is not meant to be a daily moan, it’s a weekly moan, or a monthly moan or, every now and then, it’s not even a moan at all. Amazing!

Last night, when I went to bed I had a terrible sleep. I mean awful! I slept, but I also lay and looked at the time on the clock at the side of the bed an awful lot too. Gah!

Hang on, something isn’t right, rewind – “Last night when I went to bed” – there it is.
Last night, for the first time in 15 months, I went to bed.
Let that just sink in for a minute. For 15 months I’ve been sleeping on the sofa downstairs. I’ve had a duvet and pillows [I’m not French] but I’ve also been squished up on a sofa that should really be replaced, and while I’ve slept really well without having someone yoinking the duvet, or rolling on top of me [not in a good way] or snoring like a warthog, I’ve missed being in bed.

The other day it occurred to me. I strapped my leg on and wandered off to have a bath. When I was in there I thought “why am I still downstairs?”, and that was the decision made. We’d got into such a routine that when I was given my leg full-time it passed us both by without us even realising.
I don’t wear my leg much at home so maybe that was it. Everything is set up for me in a wheelchair and I can scoot about much faster in my chair than on my leg so when I put it on in the house it seems pointless. I find myself standing up for the sake of it, I don’t see the sense in strapping the leg on just so I can sit down and so it tends to live in the corner of the room and I put it on when I want to go upstairs, only now that means ‘when I go upstairs to bed’, too.

I keep a walking stick at the top of the stairs and leave my other one on the bottom step so it’s there when I come down. It’s really hard trying to go up the stairs whilst carrying something and that’s a skill to learn on another day. For now though, I’m just happy with being in bed, although everything hurts this morning, because I’m not squeezed into a small space, things that are normally bent aren’t bent and things that are normally straight were bent. I’ll get used to it though, probably.

Dear Bellends…

Buying a domain name is easy, in recent days I’ve bought three of the little tinkers and on each occasion I’ve bought them from my usual host [I won’t bother with a link] and have purchased them via Top Cashback in order to pay the minimum amount for the first year.

Top Cashback, as per usual, failed to record my visit which meant that I’ve had to manually claim for the money they promised, even then they only allowed me to make two claims rather than the three, so that’s nice.

In addition to being dicked via Top Cashback, again, I’ve also just had my first “I’ve tried to call you” email from some chancer wanting to flog me web optimisation services. I get this shit every time I bung a website online, for the first three months or so my inbox gets clogged up by clowns from India or wherever promising me the first page on Google, thousands of unique hits and visitors and a squillion pounds in income generated via targeted advertising… fuck you!

The bloke who sent the email quoted the number he called, I have no idea what the number he used is because I just pluck half-a-dozen digits out of thin air and fill in the forms using that. I guess somebody somewhere is now getting a bunch of pestering phone calls, sorry about that, random stranger. [sorry not sorry]

So, if you’re an internet Goo-Roo and desperately want to flog me some horseshit product that you’ve invented in an effort to part the gullible from their cash, don’t bother. The details registered on this account are fake, it’s not my real number, it’s not my real address and if you can’t figure that out then, frankly, I don’t believe the bullshit you spout in your wanky emails. To repeat, Fuck you, and the horse you rode in on. Cheers then.

The Infected…

Back in 2015 I was wandering about in someone’s garden when, unknown to me, I was [apparently] chomped by a Spider. I’ve been told since that it was likely to be a False Widow Spider as they’re super common in the UK, live around houses and have the reputation of being biters.
False Widows aren’t venomous, but the bite creates a bridge between the outside and the inside and it’s that [we think] that caused my problems. The hospital people think I was bitten and simply gave the itchy bite a little scratch without even knowing it was there, I would have had dirty fingers as I was measuring for some fencing at the time and it was likely me who caused the infection that almost killed me and that eventually took my leg.
The Sun called me “The First Brit to lose his leg from a Spider Bite”, I call them ‘Sensationalist arseholes who told lies in order to try to sell papers”.

All of the above is well documented. What isn’t documented, until now, though is that a couple of weeks ago the same thing happened to me all over again, only this time we’re not sure what took a chomp out of me.

It all started last week. I had an appointment with my GP on Friday morning. I also had a blister on my calf [long story but I knew it was there and how I got it] anyhoo I went off to see the doctor but as I got out of the car I managed to bash my leg and burst the bloody blister. Super! Not only did it look gross, it also hurt like bloody hell.

I haven’t seen my GP in 2yrs because I’ve had no reason to see him. I’m usually fit and healthy and the only time I need medical attention as a rule is when I hurt myself or cut something off, or both. This time I needed an injection in my knee because it’s been stupidly painful since I’ve had the leg full-time. The knee is stuck at a permanent angle and won’t bend beyond it, I also have chronic osteoarthritis and need a steroid injection from time-to-time so I can function.

The doctor said hello and then went a deathly shade of pale [which is a neat trick] he took one look at my leg, complete with now-popped blister and told me that he wouldn’t be giving me a steroid injection. Instead he started bashing his computer furiously and then frogmarched me down the hall to the nurse practitioner who took blood, ignored my blister and then told me to go away [she’s a lovely woman and has a bedside manner that Joseph Mengele would be proud of] when I got home I took a call from the community nurses who asked if my medication had arrived yet – I genuinely had no idea what was going on at this stage – a while later a woman turned up with a carrier bag full of medication and that was it, it all went quiet.

At 9:30pm everything went noisy again when two dudes showed up announcing “we’re from the community nursing team and we’re here to fit a cannula and get the antibiotics started” , umm, pardon? Badger & Bodger repeated themselves and then added [just for shits & giggles] that I needed what’s called a ‘load dose’ and that needed to be every 12hrs for the first 3 doses, and that meant another nurse at 9:30am and another at 9:30pm on Saturday, so that was nice!

Badger got cracking on finding a suitable vein, he was the brains of the outfit and is, surprisingly, the only one at the local community nursing team who is able to install cannulas. Bodger sat on the sofa, breathing heavily [seriously] while he talked about his dog, and showed us pictures of his dog, and then talked about our dog.

Badger spent 45 minutes looking for a vein and was becoming increasingly frustrated and embarrassed at his abject failure to locate anything suitable. He kept tightening the strap he’d brought with him and every time a vein popped up he’d plunge his needle in, and miss by a mile, then the vein would collapse and he’d revert back to hunter-mode. He eventually found a vein on my forearm and managed to set the cannula at the 17th time of asking – I shit you not – It was at this stage that Badger said “oh, I should have mixed your antibiotics first because they take ages”, and he was right. 30 minutes later we were still watching him desperately try to turn 800mg of Telcoplanin crystals into liquid so he could bung them in and get the hell out of Dodge, Bodger, meanwhile, was still talking about his fucking dog. I never saw Bodger again and I’m still not sure if he was a Nurse or just some random who happened to be outside when the Nurse arrived. Nurse assumed he was with us, we assumed he was with Nurse, that sort of thing.

Sometime around 10:30pm the dose was administered and we were allowed to let poor old Bob in from the cold. We’d been asked to keep him outside just in case he disturbed the transformation from crystal to liquid, and Bob hated every second! Bob is a very social pooch and was mightily pissed off at missing new people. He moaned and sulked the whole time the guys were here and was none too impressed with us, especially because Bodger obviously smelt like dog, or drugs or something. Ah well, tomorrow wouldn’t be as bad, would it?

Saturday started well, we were visited by a very friendly lady who came, did her work, chatted and left without fuss or fanfare. She told us that we would be visited by “Fidel” [I remember his name because of Castro] and that he would call me when he was on the way. I told her that I didn’t want him turning up at 9:30pm and he needed to be with us no later than 8:00pm so that by the time the meds were mixed it would be within the 12hr window [they +/- an hour either side which put us just about at the right time] she promised to make a note of that and she also said she’d ask Fidel to call me during the afternoon.

Fidel called, I answered, he seemed nice, he promised to be on time and told me he only had to make 3 calls including mine all day so there was no way he would be late… he called again at 8:20pm to tell us he was running late. No shit, Sherlock! Fidel arrived in a blur of officious nonsense. I’d been told that he had the reputation of doing everything correctly. “There’s the right way, the wrong way and the Fidel way“, apparently.

The first thing Fidel did was complain that there was no authorisation to administer the required dose of Telcoplanin and that he needed to get that before he could do anything. It didn’t matter that two other nurses has given me the stuff already, he needed written authorisation or he’d be going home and we’d be starting from scratch. He called the office but first he needed to get his phone from the car because he couldn’t let me have the office number that I’d been given on day one in case I did something crazy like ring it and ask to talk to someone. The next thing he did was lose his pen. A Bic Biro. He needed a pen to fill out the forms you see. I offered him the Bic Biro next to me on the table, he took it, but gave it back because he needed his Bic Biro… 15 minutes later he found his pen, [hooray!] Fidel complained that nobody had filled in the 40 page document in front of him so set about doing so. Luckily for me he had remembered to mix the antibiotics so while he was twatting about that was being done at least. Finally, with it all complete, he was just about to administer the dose when his phone rang, it was the office and they wanted to know where he was as he should have been finished ages ago. By now it was 9:40pm and they wanted to go home but couldn’t until they knew he was safe. He convinced them to go [in fairness they didn’t need much convincing and even though they should have been there until 10pm, they bailed out sharpish]

Fidel inserted his needle into the cannula and flushed it before administering the drugs. Then he told me a thrilling tale of how he shouldn’t even be working but had turned up to work on the wrong day and was working a split shift to make up for it, or something, I think I’d slipped into a coma by then, not sure.

Fidel left just before 10pm but told me it’d be easier tomorrow as the load dose was complete and the next ones just had to go in within 24hrs, so I could be visited anytime from 8am – nice one!

The next day I waited patiently until noon but nobody had turned up so I gave them a quick call and was told someone would call me back. I called again at 4pm when nobody had called and had a lovely chat with a super lady who decided the best way to talk to me was to pretend I was 3yrs old. I told her I’d like a visit before the children went to bed as I didn’t want them disturbed, she laughed, I told her they’d been upset the previous night as they mistakenly thought we’d told them not to come downstairs, she laughed, I told her that I didn’t appreciate the laughing and could she tell me when they were coming, she told me they’d be there at 8:30pm – I took a deep breath and explained, very politely, ish, that they wouldn’t be getting in if they pulled that shit. She laughed.

From that point things went South in a hurry, I don’t appreciate being told what I will and won’t do, I don’t appreciate being patronised and I sure as fuck won’t be laughed at. The lady in question was left with no doubts how I felt about her. She was also told that they had until 7pm or they shouldn’t bother coming because I wouldn’t let them in – a really nice guy turned up an hour later, did his work, and left – how hard was that? It was obviously possible all along but Florence clearly enjoyed the power trip.

I don’t know the name of the bloke who turned up but he was mega. He was an African fella and he was a vegan [why the fuck do they insist on telling everyone they meet?] he had kids and he had also noticed that my cannula had popped out, which was bad because this bloke couldn’t put it back in [I knew that] and so he’d need to mix the antibiotics and inject them into my arse.. shit!

When the time came I had to stand up as best I could and turn around, he then debagged me, which is a tad unnerving let me tell you, and started apologising [never a good sign] he pointed to the 2” needle now aimed straight at my batty and told me I’d be having one of those on each side and it had to be so big so it could go directly into the muscle. EEP! As it turned out I shouldn’t have worried, it was totally painless and all over in a couple of minutes. The rest of the doses would need to be given the same way now but really, who cares!

On Monday I was visited by the ghost of Sunday past. I was expecting a dude, because I’d been told to expect a dude, but before me stood a woman who made a point of not telling me her name. I knew instantly who she was though, because I recognised her voice, it was my pal from Sunday afternoon, the one who likes a laugh.

I didn’t say anything and she never let on so we entered into an uneasy relationship of patient and care-giver. Then we started to chat and it turned out we got along pretty well. The news came on, we tutted at the same things, chuckled at the same things and generally had a decent hour or so. She apologised before popping the needle into my batty but as I said before, who cares?

Me, that’s who.

I knew in an instant why she had come. The first injection was absolute agony, I mean it felt like I’d been bum-raped, twice, and then had my balls stamped on for good measure. The second injection was even worse and as I stood there wishing for death I vowed not to make a sound. She didn’t get the satisfaction of knowing she’d hurt me. We parted ways soon after. Her with satisfaction of a job well done, me, scouring Amazon in the hopes of being able to buy a new arse.

The last time I was injected was by Badger, we’d come full circle and here he was to finish up and let me go merrily on my way. He’d had a think in the car, he said. He could give me painful arse injections or he could save me by redoing my Cannula, which way did I want?

I elected to go back to the Cannula because my arse had stopped talking to me [we’re still not friends now] and so Badger got straight on it. He knew where he was going this time, he wasn’t going to piss about [his words]

His plan to impress me with his Cannula-setting skills failed horribly and he gave up after another 5 or 6 goes. I actually felt a bit sorry for the bloke. He’d spent a while puffing out his chest as he told me about being the only one in the team who could insert cannula’s and here he was, looking properly crestfallen, after failing to locate a vein despite plunging his needle in over 20 times.
Looking suitably defeated he started to prepare the injections. That was when I truly knew the identity of the woman who visited. I told him about the ‘squabble’ and about how I think she’d visited and he didn’t react. His eyes didn’t move from what they were doing, they was no “eh?” or “Nah, mate”, there was no nothing in fact, and that said it all.
It’s a fair one I suppose, I didn’t swear at her, nor did I do anything other than insist on not being dicked about by a total stranger but I guess she felt slighted enough to abandon her ethics. Meh.

Believe it or not, the day after the final jabs had been given I answered a knock on the door to find two very concerned community nurses stood there looking at me. I wasn’t expecting them and actually thought they were a courier looking to dump a parcel for next door on me. I opened the door and they said they were here to check my wound, “what wound” I said, “your leg” they said, “It’s fine” I said, “look” [points to leg] and they said “oh”. Then they said that they needed to check my mobility as they were a bit concerned that I couldn’t get about very well. They asked if I’d mind walking for them, and transferring from the chair to the sofa, and then transferring from the chair onto the toilet for them and then could I please go up and down the stairs for them …guess what I said [hint, it starts with NO] as Christine pointed out when she got home, where the fuck were they when I left hospital 2 days after having my leg amputated on a pair of forearm crutches, with no wheelchair? Nowhere, that’s where. Twats.

They’re coming back next week, apparently, so that’s something to look forward to at least.

For the record, good people, I’m not poorly and haven’t felt in the least bit ill throughout any of this but I’m fairly sure I would of died at some stage. My GP reacted very quickly and went from being a laid-back cheery chappie to a very busy, very concerned doctor in a heartbeat. He’s a great bloke and we get on really well, I did a bit of fencing for him a few years ago and we’ve been kind of pals ever since. I suppose I owe him one now. Bleh

The long road to freedom.

My original blog covered my amputation, the period immediately after and the subsequent 2nd operation to chop out an infection that was threatening to take what was left of my leg.

In order to speed the healing process up I was fitted with a vacuum dressing which worked via a small pump. The pump drew the slough [pronounced ‘sluff’] out of the wound and left the remaining tissue free to heal. I kept the pump on for two months [day and night] give or take a week, and it was a giant pain in the arse.

The day I got the all clear from the hospital was truly momentous. It meant an end to the thrice-weekly 40 mile round-trip from home to the hospital in Coventry. It meant an end to the huge wait for a parking space once we arrived at the hospital [it’s not uncommon to wait for 40 minutes in a queue for a space] and it meant an end to having to carry the vacuum pump around in a dainty little man-bag everywhere I went. It also meant I could finally start my rehabilitation and start working toward getting a leg.

I rang what I call ‘The Leg Place’ from the car park at the hospital. I’d visited the Leg Place prior to the Infection setting in and met a woman there that I’d taken an instant dislike to. She wanted me to go in every week to mince about doing stretches and shit but I didn’t want to disturb the vacuum pump and set my recovery back even further so refused to do it [which pleased her no end].

I made an appointment to go and see the same woman. It turns out the Leg Place only has one qualified physiotherapist and appointments are like rocking horse shit as a result.

I went in at the appointed hour and fully expected her to magic a leg up there and then, but no, she wanted to do stretches and then she wanted to inspect every square inch of my stump, and my remaining leg. Our initial relationship was frosty to say the least, I didn’t understand what she was messing about at and just wanted to move on. At one point, when she was telling me that 80% of amputees never walk again because it’s too difficult, I decided to tell her that I’d seen small children and old people wandering about with prosthetic limbs so it can’t be as hard as she was making out and could she please hurry up… to her credit she didn’t call me a twat, but a tenner says she was thinking it, and she probably said it during her tea-break or something.

After a couple of weeks of knobbing about it was time to try out for a leg. There are a number of hoops that need to be jumped through before you’re considered suitable and whilst I can’t remember all of them I do know that one of them is standing still for ten minutes, supported by the parallel bars when needed, and another was to stand perfectly still for 1 minute and balance on the remaining leg without touching the bars or anything else. I passed both tests plus whatever else it was at the first attempt and was free to trundle off to see the woman who makes the legs… joy!

It was early July when I went to the other side of the Leg Place. The right side deals with prosthetics, the left side deals with rehabilitation and physiotherapy – and the two sides don’t get along. Mention one side to the other and you’ll get a roll of the eyes, some muttered insult and a lot of finger clicking as a scene from Westside Story cracks off before your very eyes. They hate each other, which is mega when you’re stuck in the middle.

On the day of my appointment I was called in late [as usual] and the woman I met didn’t bother with pleasantries such as “hello” and instead preferred the phrase “are you wearing pants?”…I assumed it was a colloquialism and nodded slowly so as not to scare her. Perhaps, I thought, this is how they do things round here, maybe this woman has a brother/father or a sister/mother, best not to spook her.

I was directed to stand between the parallel bars as is the norm and watched as the woman readied herself. She was perched on a mechanics stool directly in front of me and in another time and place [and perhaps without my missus watching] things could have gotten interesting. Sadly though, the following took place.

Without a word of warning my new best friend plunged her hand between my legs. Ordinarily I’d take this as a good sign but on this occasion It meant danger. I’d like the reader to keep in mind the fact that this was July, in what turned out to be the warmest summer ever and my balls were seriously sweaty. I would also like to alert the reader to the fact that my new best mate had chosen not to wear gloves and had had to move my dingus out of the way as he blocked her route to my nether regions.

The whole time she was rummaging about all I could think of was “did she wash her hands after the last bloke left or is sweaty ball smell the thing that does it for her?”.

We’d been going for ten minutes or so by now and I needed a break, my left leg is pretty rubbish and having to support the rest of me takes it’s toll. I sat down in my chair and she finally explained that she was looking for certain ligaments and bones. She also told me that she could have reached them easier from behind but didn’t want to move on account of it being warm.

Oddly, after I stood up again, she scooted round behind me and started to root about all over again. This time she said she was looking for the ‘bum bone’ and this time I started to imagine that this is what prison must be like. For the record your bum bone is located a gnats chuff away from your bumhole and, let me tell you, any unauthorised activity in that area gives this bloke the heebie geebies!

At some point the invasive probing stopped and I think she might even have measured something, I was past caring by that point though and needed the missus to take me to the nearest toy shop so I could buy a doll and point out to the Police where I’d been touched.

My best mate told us as we were leaving that she was going on holiday the following day and would be away for two weeks. She said she’d leave the information with one of her colleagues and that they would be in touch in due course. I’m delighted to say she washed her hands at that point, I’m hoping she’d done that before I entered the room too, although it’s possible that she didn’t enjoy the rich aroma of my sweaty ball… posh cow.

I tootled off home in good spirits [okay, I didn’t have the urge to kill everyone for 20 minutes or so] and set about waiting for the telephone call telling me my Gucci leg was ready. I waited, and I waited and then I waited some more. Eventually, after six weeks or so, I got fed up of waiting and called them. I heard the woman on the end of the phone go quiet. She did a bit of tapping and some rustling of papers and then said she’d call me back [she didn’t] I called her again the following time and this time got through to someone in the leg department. The person I spoke to told me that they’d lost the notes and needed me to go in to be measured again – dagnabit!

An appointment was hastily arranged and the whole nasty procedure was completed again. This time my best mate said she’d deal with it herself, right then, this is bound to work. I asked at this stage if i’d have any chance of taking my boys out on Halloween around the village “I don’t see why not”, she said… wahoo!

This time I really did only wait two weeks. The call came and I fairly bounded off to the Leg Place. This was the day I was going to walk again, and I couldn’t flipping wait!

We arrived on time and were kept waiting, again, and then we were wheeled into the same room as before to find something that looked like an upturned Policeman’s helmet secured in some type of contraption. No leg, No knee, No foot, just a massive helmet.

No explanation was offered, apparently I should know the inner workings of a prosthetic clinic, why wouldn’t I? I was told to stand up and put my stump into the helmet, I did. I asked for it to be lowered because I was virtually on my tip-toes but she told me I needed to straighten my leg. I tried to stand tall but was told I wasn’t doing it right, that my posture was crap and that they couldn’t fit this thing if I didn’t stand up… I felt a similar kind of rage that Bruce Banner experiences just before he goes green and fucks shit up but I held on to it and asked if they could let me see in the mirror so I could correct whatever they needed as I just couldn’t understand what she wanted.

A mirror was duly rolled in [I looked good as usual] and I saw the issue. “Ah-Ha”, I said, “My left knee doesn’t get any straighter than this, it’s osteoarthritis and there’s sod all I can do about it”.

I was told that my explanation was rubbish and that of course I could get it straighter, she started banging on about range of movement being poor and before I knew it Bruce was gone and Hulk had turned up. We exchanged more than a few words, she was told to stop talking to me like I was 3yrs old and her parentage might have been questioned too. It’s fair to say that our relationship hit a bit of a road bump that day. Appointment over, I was told to go and see the original woman as there was no way I was ready for a leg and the other lot had stuffed up, the bastards!

Yet another appointment was made, another week delay followed and in I went again, for about 15 minutes. My range was tested [the movement of my hips basically, how far they’ll move given everything on the right hand side hasn’t been used in months and is busy shrinking] once again my range was declared suitable only this time the physio woman [dubbed ‘Mad Lizzie’] called the Leg woman [dubbed ‘That Twat on the other side’] and told her to come and see for herself – she refused – so, guess what, another appointment was made, only this time it would be for a fitting. An absolute cast-iron guarantee this time, my leg was just two short weeks away from being here!

The morning of the next appointment rolled round but, a few minutes before we were due to leave the phone rang… the parts needed to complete my new leg hadn’t been delivered. Not to worry, they’d be in later that day and they’d call me with a new appointment… they didn’t.

I rang the next morning and was told the parts still hadn’t landed, that they were in touch with the couriers and not to worry. A short while later they called again, the couriers had lost the parts and they now needed to be re-ordered… Balls!

No appointment was made as there were no parts and no lead-time. They would be in touch when they landed and until then there was nothing anyone could do. Sorry. I was offered some physiotherapy, which I refused, and told to wait until they called, a couple of weeks passed but no call came so I rang in and was told that they still hadn’t shown up. At this I got the arse and decided an email to head office was the way to go, I was months down the line by now, Halloween had come and gone and my new goal was to be walking by Christmas. I emailed head office but got butkus by way of reply, not a peep.

I absolutely hate using the phone, anyone who knows me knows this. I don’t ring people and very rarely answer if they ring me, but this time I figured I’d ring head office and demand answers.

I called the number advertised and a woman picked up. I thought I’d called the wrong place though as she said it was ‘Opcare’ and I’d called ‘Blatchford’, I explained I’d called the wrong number but just before I hung up she asked who I wanted, I told her and she said “Oh they’ve gone, we’ve taken over and the number has been transferred to us”. Eh?

It turns out that Blatchford had lost the NHS contract to supply prosthetics and related services but rather than actually tell me that they decided simply to make up stories about Couriers. The reality is that Blatchford didn’t want to spend any more money and had pulled all of it’s machinery out of the building so no more legs could be built. All staff but the centre manager were being retained

[which would make it a tad awkward when I next spoke to the woman who
lied to me]

and it would be business as usual in a couple of days. The lady I talked to happened to be one of Opcare’s directors. She happened to be passing reception when the phone rang and figured she’d answer it. She promised to get me squared away ASAP and, amazingly, as soon as they opened the next morning they were on the phone booking an appointment for a leg fitting!

This time all went smoothly. I went in at the allotted time and was kept waiting [nothing changes] but as I entered the room with the bum forager, there was my leg, an actual real-live leg!

I tried my new leg on, Christine took a cheesy thumbs-up photo and that was me done! A couple of weeks practising and I’d be out of there.

“A couple of weeks” turned into another four months. Christmas came and went and then the new target of walking by my Birthday was missed. The root cause was me needing to have another leg made, which involved another set of measurements and, amazingly, another set of measurements because the first ones had been lost, again!

When the leg arrived I got cracking straight away, I had more hoops to jump through such as walking a slalom course of cones, practising going up and down stairs, opening and closing doors, going up and down slopes, picking things up off the floor, picking myself up off the floor should I fall over and, sitting… I got through all of that lot only for my bastard stump to change shape! The stump is prone to change for the first two years post-op and it wasn’t entirely unexpected. At first they increase the number of ‘socks’ you wear [a sock is exactly that, it’s an over-sized sock that goes over the stump to prevent sores and rubbing] the socks come in thick and thin types and I got up to needing 4 thick socks which is the trigger for a new socket. Off I went to see the bum forager again only she was off sick [hooray!] so someone new got to fondle me instead [boo!] the only good thing is that no dudes ever got involved in the bum-foraging. It’s bad enough when a chick does it but a dude would be too much and someone would get whacked, me probably.

I’m loathe to even write it but, for the umpteenth time, my measurements were ‘mislaid’ so they took another set ‘just to be sure’. They then sorted my leg out in double-quick time and off I went to see mad Lizzie again.

Mad Lizzie needs to see patients performing the tasks set twice before she can sign them off so we set about knocking them off sharpish. It only took a couple of weeks to complete the list and she started making sounds about taking the leg home for a test drive. A day here, a day there, that kind of thing. I told her one day that I’d been coming to the Leg Place for 7 Months, and that I’d just read about a guy who lost both hands and both feet to an infection. He was in hospital for 7 weeks and walked out under his own steam… she told me I could take my leg home there and then!

The leg has been christened “Doctor” in homage to Dr Legg from Eastenders [Christine’s idea] and for the first few days I felt guilty that I wasn’t wearing it often enough. I’m meant to be using it in 30 minute bursts 3 times per day, the intention is that you slowly add minutes to each session until the sessions meet up and form one big one. I had two walking sticks on day one but I tossed one of them on day two because my posture was crap and I looked more like Caesar from Planet of the Apes than Andy from Huncote of the Apes.

One day I decided to see what could be done so I kept the thing on all day from 8am until 6pm, it was fine, but I didn’t really go anywhere, just mooched about at home, and then I picked up the Infection and things slowed down again as my left knee has been wrecked for a week or so. Due to the osteoarthritis I have no cartilage in the knee but I suspect the infection I didn’t know I had was keeping the joint filled with fluid and that acted as a shock absorber in the same way a normal knee uses cartilage. Once the infection went, so did my knee.

The past few days has seen me venturing out like a big boy on my own. One day I made it ¾ of the way up the street before being forced to turn back but earlier today [Tuesday 21st May] I made it all the way to the end of the road, across the main road and over to the bench at the end of the next road. I even took a picture! My next goal is to make it as far as the park although I need to be careful not to go too far if I get there as the effort of walking means I’m massively out of breath and, trust me, the children’s play area is not the place to be when you’re a bloke, and you’re panting, and a bit sweaty… I can see the headlines now “Mothers Club Together – suspected kiddy fiddler found with a Hedgehog jammed up his batty”.

Over and out, good people [person] until next time.

Chester Zoo… the return

We took the kids to Chester Zoo today. It was the second time we’d visited, the first being mid-April 2018, a couple of weeks after the amputation. It was our first trip out together last year and was considered so important that the school actually authorised the boys being taken out for the day. There was none of that old pony this time, it’s half-term and we decided to join the squillions of Scouse people who wander around the zoo spitting on everything as they attempt to say any word containing a vowel.

We’d been anxiously watching the weather ever since I’d booked the tickets. I did it blind and hadn’t bothered checking the forecast first [that was an error, Christine said so, a lot] and it was only after I’d booked that we discovered Chester don’t refund tickets, nor do they swap them, nor do they provide a ‘rainy day’ ticket so you can go back when it’s not honking and actually enjoy your day, that’s lovely of them eh?
The first thing I did when I woke up was check the forecast, no rain, wahoo!

We arrived at the Zoo shortly after it opened at 10am – it rained within ten minutes of us getting there – it was only a brief shower so we set off and went to stare at the various critters on offer.

TIP – Turn Right, and Ignore the Monkey House directly in front of you. Most people take a clockwise route in parks and zoos and going anti-clockwise means you have a much easier time with fewer people getting in the way.

Naturally, the rain started to get heavier and it was around that time that we realised we’d left coats and umbrella’s at home. It didn’t really matter for the boys & Chris as the showers were only lasting 10 minutes or so at a time but it’s a big deal to me as I was in my wheelchair and a wet seat is a wet seat. I didn’t fancy sitting with a wet batty for the rest of the day so had to keep hiding in covered areas until, finally, the rain buggered off and we could mooch about in relative dryness [we still had the spitting scousers to contend with] we stopped for lunch, Christine legging it back to the car to grab the world’s biggest pic-a-nic, and then set off for round two.

By 3pm or thereabouts we were ready to call it a day. It’s a big Zoo and we reckon we’d covered at least 5 miles since we arrived [Christine’s step-thingy had recorded 14,000 steps] we got the usual “awwww” from the boys when we announced that it was home-time but they soon perked up when we reminded them that they could go and spend their money at the Zoo shop which is by the exit.

The Zoo was knackering! It’s a bit hilly and in order to get from one side of the place to the other you have to cross a massive bridge. The first time we went, I needed a helping hand from Chris every five minutes, my arms and shoulders just didn’t have the power to get me from A-to-B, today, I didn’t need help from anyone, although it tired me out no end. It’s a mark of progress I think.
To cap a wonderful day, we drove smack-bang into a load of congestion on the motorway on the way home and a 2hr drive quickly turned into a 4-and-a-half hour drive, which was nice.

Chester is a cracking day out and is well worth the drive. They could be less shitty about tickets [they even encourage you to sign up in advance by offering a “discount” on tickets – which actually means they just put their prices up by 20% for walk-ins] but all of the staff we encountered were good and friendly. The Zoo is clean, the animals look happy and I recommend the place for a visit. Just don’t engage the locals in conversation, because they’ll spit on you.

Negative, Ghost Rider, the pattern is full…

I’ve had a busy day. I’ve started a couple of new projects that will remain secret squirrels for the time being. I’ve also been up and about on my new leg [I decided to call the leg, “The Doctor”, after Doctor Legg in EastEnders [that was Christine’s idea, blame her] and was able to get round to see our friends the ‘Tards yesterday. I last got to their spiffy new house at Christmas, but it was shit because they didn’t bother making their new house wheelchair-friendly and I had to leave after an hour because I needed a pee.

The ‘Tards house still isn’t wheelchair friendly [Nazi’s] but now I have the Doctor I don’t care. I was able to use their steps, I was able to walk outside, I was able to sit on their wall [which pissed one of them off no end] and I was able to drink their coffee, even though I was given the “Stupid Twat” mug… told you they were Nazi’s.

Today has been a workshop day. I can’t discuss the main project as it’s a secret for the time being, but the other stuff is out there, only I’m not going to discuss that either because I have a Facebook page set up for work, head on over to the Winklewood page and you can see what I’ve been up to, if you want, and if you don’t want, screw you.

We’re off to Chester Zoo on Thursday. We last went this time last year, it was our first trip after I left Hospital and it was essentially a gift from my pal Fatbloke, a gift I’ve not forgotten. Lots of people helped us in our hour of need last year and it made me feel all cosy and fuzzy inside, a bit like indigestion, but nicer, and with less poo.
I’m hoping the weather is good on Thursday or I won’t be able to go. It’s far too soon for Doctor Legg, I can’t use him for more than a few minutes at a time which means it’s the wheelchair for me. That becomes a major drama if it rains because I get to sit in a wet seat all day. Everyone else can put their hood or Umbrella up and whilst I can do the same, the rain would definitely get onto the chair cushion and that would suck balls. My Mum is lined up to Bob-sit if we all go, and if I stay then she’ll take my place with Chris and the boys and Bob and I will spend the day being blokes.

I have only one more thing to add today – TOP GUN SCREENING – that’s right. The good people at Wicksteed Park in Kettering are putting on a screening in August. I’ll add a link soon. I’ve emailed them to see if they run the carer scheme for film screenings, hopefully they will because I plan on using the saved money to buy cardboard and sellotape… one F-16 wheelchair coming up! Seriously, I’ll update with a link and will let you know about the ticket thingy once they reply. I like Wicksteed, I used to go a lot when I was a nipper but that was about 200yrs ago and I expect a few things have changed since then… do they still have the Pirate Ship?

Later, groovers.

I am man, hear me roar!

Originally Published 9th February 2018

I was looking at Pintrest earlier, it’s the first time I’ve been on the site in ages, and it immediately lead me to Amazon, and then to Screwfix, as I pondered whether to spend £100 on a new self-centring chuck for my wood lathe – that’s the reason I’ve not been on Pintrest for a while. Whenever I do I get an urge to make something but the thing I’d like to make now (a new Router Table) would take me longer than the time I have remaining before my operation, and even if I pushed it i’d only just get in done in time.

I love working with wood and wish I’d discovered it sooner. I spent a few years installing decking either on my own or with my chaps and whilst I enjoyed doing that, I never really ‘enjoyed‘ it. Prior to being self-employed I did some other things, some of those things resulted in injuries and a fear of balloons [don’t ask] and other things, didn’t, but none of the things included anything with wood, which is a massive shame.

I have my own workshop now. It’s fully kitted out with every imaginable machine and gadget. I’ve even got a coffee machine in there, because I like coffee and dislike walking. I literally spent thousands on the tools in there and reinvested the money from my Landscaping tools that I was forced to sell. My Cement Mixer became a Pillar Drill, my Concrete Breaker became a Bandsaw, that kind of thing… I’ve spent many happy hours wandering about making stuff, cutting digits off, and generally being a bloke. I’m worried though, what happens after my leg has fallen off, will I still be able to do what I like to do or is that me buggered?

I have a couple of stools in my workshop and Chris encourages me by saying that I can ‘perch’ on a stool whilst doing what I do, but it’s not that easy. I wouldn’t want to sit whilst using my lathe, as that would put my face directly in line with the lump of wood that i’m attacking with a sharp blade, at 1750rpm… I also wouldn’t want to be sat whilst trying to cut something intricate out on my scroll saw, and I managed to mangle a hand whilst using what I now call “scary saw” so I’ll be damned if I’m going to put my face in the line of fire and get closer to the dangerous bits! No, I need to be able to stand up in order to use my tools correctly, and therein lies my problem because I don’t know if I’ll be able to stand, at least not to begin with.

Next week sees me beginning the task of closing my workshop for the foreseeable future. I’ve already got rid of all useless scrap wood and rubbish from in and around, and the next job is to clean all small tools, putting them into their respective carry cases and getting them into the house where they’ll be safe and warm. The big items, the stuff that’s not easy to carry, is going to be bolted to the workbenches. I’m going to clean all of the machines and then they’ll get a good squirt of WD40 before being put to bed. Each item will be wrapped in a few layers of plastic wrap in order to keep any damp out. All plugs will be taken out, the power will be switched off, and the Spiders will be allowed to roam free. I don’t know when I’ll see the inside of my shop again, and I don’t know if I’ll ever enjoy the simple pleasure of sitting with a brew, listening to Pop Master on Radio 2 as I take a break from making whatever it is i’m making. I hope it’s not long though, I hope I can do that again one day.

The other thing I’m concerned about is my manliness… we went to B&Q earlier and I needed to grab 4 x 100L bags of Bark Chips. I grabbed a trolley, slung the bags on, pulled it all to the checkouts and then slung it into the car. When we got home I reversed up to the fence, got out and threw the bags over the fence into the area of the garden they’re needed for – is that the last time I do that? I’m a big bloke, my knees are ruined because I spent my formative years, and a lot more besides, running about on a rugby pitch. I also did a job that impacted very heavily on my knees for a few years and when that ended I moved in to landscaping and spent another bunch of years lifting heavy things and laying paving slabs. I’ve always been a big strong bloke and I enjoy being a big strong bloke, I’m not at all sure that I’ll be much use not being a big strong bloke. It’s a real concern.

Update – 24th May 2019

It’s over a year since my operation and I’m pleased to say that my fears were unfounded. I didn’t go anywhere near my workshop once the operation had been completed, because I couldn’t get over the lawn and bark chips to get there and even if I could I had a 12″ step up to negotiate and then wouldn’t have been able to get in there in my wheelchair.
My workshop was replaced with a bigger version when the garden was redesigned in January 2019. I now have a level-access garden which means getting there [to the workshop] is easy and the workshop itself is bigger and has double doors.

Work continues as if nothing has happened, it’s a bit harder to do some things but in many ways it’s easier too. I’m happy though, I get to do what I enjoy most and not many people can say that.