About Paul

Having decided on a change of life by moving home from the UK to Italy, this is the story and thoughts of a man on a personal journey from the Blackpool Tower to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, in search of la dolce vita. After several olive harvests he's now back in London but en route he shares his very personal perspectives on life.

Starschmucks

So everyday I try and take Becksy out to get a bit of shopping and a coffee and to do some walking exercise after her accident. Mostly she’ll want me to use the wheelchair for a longish walk around Waitrose but she’s getting better.

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Our extraordinary daughter Becksy

You guys know we have 3 wonderful daughters and that our eldest, Rebecca, who has Down’s syndrome, been back living with us since Xmas time. The care company who were looking after her in independent living in Twickenham, called us up to say that they were struggling to offer her adequate care. It was suggested we should re-take the care of her after 8-9 years living independently. Serious stuff. She came back to us 3 stones overweight, heavily anxious after 2 years of being kept indoors during the covid situation, and we couldn’t recognise  the carefree, confident, smart, happy and adventurous young women we’d known since childhood.

It was very scary to be honest. She wouldn’t sleep, staying up all night propped up in her bed and we couldn’t really raise her from her bedroom doing the day. She’d stopped showering at her care facility and had been ignoring her personal hygiene (including dental care) and we were really having to insist on her getting up to look after her personal hygiene. It came to a head one day when she went into melt down and we had to call the GP in to check her over. This ended up with her being admitted to Warwick Hospital via an ambulance – after a 14 hour wait for the vehicle – it took 3 hours to get her into the ambulance because of her anxiety. You have to understand that she has a massive fear of hospitals and all things medical. So getting her there was a huge struggle and a little triumph.

But typically she became the life and soul of the party on on the ward and we were able to take her home the next day with a new regime of medicines (which have worked really well since then). We had a follow-up appointment at Stratford Hospital for a CT scan for Becksy, to try and identify any brain symptoms causing the anxiety issues. But after an hour or more of trying she simply was too fearful of the procedure and we had to abort it.

Then in February she had the accident on the stairs in a hotel whilst we were visiting Carol’s brother and she badly damaged her already degenerative knees. This was a major setback of course requiring wheel chair support and walking aids. But before we reached that point she had a series of major fainting sessions in the bathroom because of the pain getting Into and out of the bath. We had to call the ambulance service again one day when we simply could’t raise her from the floor.  Again another major problem getting her into the ambulance (a neighbour was held up 3 hours getting out of her driveway but she was lovely over it). More medication – mostly strong pain killers.

The good news was that Becksy was shedding weight with a proper diet  (over 3 stone since December) and her anxiousness was massively reduced. She’s been sleeping well for months now and her happy nature has returned thankfully. And physiotherapy with the lovely  K at Stratford Hospital was really helping.

But in August we received the appointment for Becksy to attend  Kings College Hospital for major dental  surgery. We’d been chasing this for at least 3 years, not helped by covid,  as her dental condition had deteriorated  under care. Long story short she needed to be treated under GA and had 7 teeth extracted, 4 fillings and some abscessed jaw bone removed under a fairly major procedure. It’s taken almost 3 months of taking salt water swills to ease the discomfort but thankfully she’s eating happily again.

Despite this her health seemed to be progressing nicely, especially her improved mobility until about 3 weeks ago. That’s when Carol noticed how pale Becksy was looking and took her to our GP for a check up. She was concerned and did an immediate blood test. We then heard from Warwick Hospital at 9.30pm later the same evening that they wanted us to take her into the hospital urgently. I explained that both she and Caz were in bed  and asked if we could delay things until the morning  (especially as I know from experience that nothing would happen on a late w/e evening).

So next morning we took her in again and it took another 5 hours of procedures to go through A&E to get her onto a ward. This is the problem constantly. Anyway it became clear that Becksy had a major problem – her blood level was incredibly low and her haemoglobin/iron levels within her bloodstream were dangerously low. She needed more blood tests and a cannula to be fitted. Because of her anxieties this was a real ordeal but eventually they got it done. She received several transfusions over the next few days to boost her blood and iron levels.

She was actually a week in the hospital and as ever she was the star of the ward and the doctors/nurses  loved her. But, whilst she got her levels rebalanced, there was still the need to identify the cause of the blood/iron loss. A CT scan would be the first step. We tried twice more to get her to have the scan; once with me by her side and secondly with her fave doctor. But we couldn’t overcome her fears on either occasion sadly.

During her 6 day stay we noticed her cannulated arm was badly swollen and reddened. We pointed this out to the nurses and doctors several times but they kept saying it was just a circulatory problem. Increasingly Becksy’s arm became sore to touch and they still denied it was an infection. Becksy was allowed to return home after 6 days. At the first opportunity we took her to our GP to assess the arm; she couldn’t believe the hospital had not noticed the obvious infection and gave us a heavy prescription of antibiotics. Sigh.

Two and a half weeks later the infection has gone but she still has poor finger movement and painfulness in her right arm. We just can’t believe our daughter  can come out of hospital in a probably worse condition. To compound this lack of competency we received an outpatient appointment for Becksy to have a CT scan at Stratford Hospital a week or so ago. The doctors has suggested we give her fairly strong sedatives an hour before the scan to ease her anxiety. We got to hospital, only to find out that Warwick Hospital had cancelled the appointment without informing us. And we’d administered sedatives to Becksy unnecessarily.

You kind of start to lose faith in the NHS system when this shit happens. We then got an appointment for a 5th CT scan back at Warwick Hospital earlier this week. She wanted her sister Sarah to be there and with the help of some really helpful staff we got Becksy to actually do the scan. Wey hey.

All we have to do now is await the consultant review and hopefully it’ll demonstrate a simple medical issue curable by medication.

We are just in awe of our daughter. She’s full of life again incredibly. The doctor at the hospital told us he would have collapsed with Becksy’s blood levels. She’s tough as teak but we just can’t help thinking that she deserves a health break now. She’s put up with a lot and still comes up smiling. As soon as possible we want take her somewhere nicely recuperative.

Love my daughters

pp

44 days

So it was a sorry sight to see Liz Truss resign after just 44 days as PM. Not because I liked her but just to see somebody so unsuited to the role making dreadful decisions on top of further bad decisions. I was reminded of Brain Clough’s  disastrous tenure as Manager at Leeds United which also lasted just 44 days. Spooky eh?

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A tale of two airfields

Well I’ve got a scarcely believable  update on the family’s health situation but I’ll leave that to the next posting as hopefully things will have calmed in a day or so (including my mood). So this then is a completely different posting about two little airfields, still very much operational. Not my usual topic and not very interesting you say? Perhaps….

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Glad tidings from Frustrated upon Avon

Hello dear readers. A bit of a delay since my last mailing. I seem to make a habit of this these days. Sorry folks. But the thing is I’m still keen to blog but find it harder to find the motivation to write at the moment. Is that an age thing? It’s definitely not lack of subject matter, as you’re about to discover. The need to proceed without hassle burns as brightly as ever. But I rarely achieve it these days…

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Road trips

So last week we headed up to collect Carol’s brother Colin from Lancashire and then headed over, for a few days away, to a little place called Crookham Eastfield up in Northumberland. It’s very close to the River Tweed on the English-Scottish Borders and it’s a lovely, fertile and peaceful part of the world, rich in places to visit.

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From the ridiculous to the simply brilliant

Well here’s a little twist on the theme of yesterdays’s piece. First up the ridiculous; this time it’s about a car, a very rare one. The car isn’t the ridiculous item, in fact it’s rather beautiful…

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Sublime to the downright ridiculous

So before we went away, a lot of the beech trees along our driveway were just in bud  but we have returned to see them in ful leaf and they look lovely…

This box-shaped effect is done through a technique called pleaching which you see a lot in France. It helps to create a natural screening and my lovely daughter Ems has beech trees pleached like this in her garden to do just that. In the case of the trees along our drive it’s just arboreal decoration but doesn’t it look great? You can see the grass on the main field was quite long earlier in the week but yesterday the garden specialists came and mowed it all so it now look super and that smell of newly-cut grass is just so evocative….

What it meant was that  I could spot loads of wildlife out on the main field early this morning when I went out for my newspaper – deer, rabbits, crows, squirrels, doves all in evidence. It’s such an attractive setting and we feel very grateful to live in such a lovely place.

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