Oliver & Grace

We met at a barbecue, a short ten years ago. For a number of years our paths crossed on a regular basis, and I entertained them to dinner in my home on a number of occasions. Oliver & Grace* were about ten years my senior, and I was fascinated by the story of their journey to true love.

Growing up in the same area of a Belfast suburb, Oliver & Grace first met in their teens as members of the same youth organisations. They quickly became friends and were soon inseparable. Grace’s mother did not really like Oliver, not for any particular reason, she just felt he was not right for her daughter.

Grace’s family were moving away, at short notice, to the UK mainland. She was only informed the evening before departure – not an uncommon situation back then – children were often excluded from plans or arrangements. Grace was rather forlorn when she told Oliver her news, but promised to write as soon as they were settled into the new house.

Two days later, Grace kept her promise and wrote to Oliver urging him to write and tell her all the local news.

A week later, she wrote again, and the one after that, but no reply was forthcoming. Waiting a couple of weeks she tried again, but no joy, she still never heard from Oliver. Sadly, she decided, Oliver had forgotten all about her or was not very keen to keep in touch.

Grace, settled into the routine of her new life and Oliver drifted to the dark corners of her memory box. With time Grace trained to be a nurse and after several years opened her own nursing home. Her mother died suddenly and as an only child, the funeral arrangements and clearing out the family home were down to her.

While grace was clearing her mother’s desk, she found a folder containing a bundle of letters. At first she thought that they might have been from her father, and sent to her mother before his death many years earlier.

Turning the bundle over, Grace gasped. The letters were all addressed to her and not her mother. The handwriting was familiar and a tear escaped from the corner of her eye. Oliver had written. Not once but every week for several months, long after Grace had stopped and thought she was forgotten.

Why? Why? Why? Asked Grace. Her mother had never mentioned Oliver’s name since they left the shores of Ireland, yet she kept these letters. All unopened!

It took three full days for Grace to work up the courage to write to the only address she had for Oliver and she included her phone number along with the address. Two days later the phone rang as she was about to make dinner.

It was Oliver.

Food was forgotten. They talked for a couple of hours, catching up on all that had happened in the intervening years. They vowed never to lose contact again. A month later Oliver travelled over for a long weekend.
Within the year, Grace sold the Nursing Home to her deputy, then packed up her belonging and headed home to marry Oliver. They never looked back. They were a wonderful couple, meant to be together and brought joy to all around them.

In the latter part of last year Grace became unwell and suffered great pain, seeking the help from her local medical practice, painkillers were suggested and prescribed, with Grace being told it was muscular. Showing no sign of abating, the pain increased all the while and stronger painkillers were administered. Oliver worried, but Grace tried to reassure him.

One morning Grace looked grey and unable to sit up in bed. Oliver decided he had enough. He changed his plans for the day and went straight to the doctor’s surgery. He did not mince his words and told them that he was prepared to sit there all day until a doctor came home with him to see Grace.

A doctor did go with Oliver. On examining Grace, he had her admitted to hospital immediately. Tests and scans began. Two days later Grace was told she had cancer.

Oliver went to see the Consultant and discovered the pain was due to a large mass pressing on Grace’s spine. As that sank in, Oliver asked, like we all would “How many years would you say Grace has left?

Years? Said the Consultant. I am not talking years. At most two months… or one!

That night Oliver phoned their few close friends to break the news. Tom and Anne offered to collect him the next day and take him to the hospital.

Tom got no reply to the doorbell, which was unusual, Oliver was always ready on the doorstep when someone was coming to collect him. Eventually Oliver found someone with a key and they went in to find Oliver was lying on the kitchen floor the kettle on its side on the floor beside him. Oliver was cold.

A Doctor was called. It was the same Doctor who came to see Grace, he thought death had occurred eight to ten hours earlier.

Tom now had the task of informing Grace, who was now unable to move her limbs, of the death of her beloved Oliver. He also undertook to make the arrangements for the funeral.

The first of the two months have past, but it is a waiting game for Grace, with her condition worsening with the days.

I hope for her sake the end comes soon.

The lesson for all of us is to: LIVE NOW. Make the moment a worthwhile one!

* Names changed for obvious reasons.

UPDATE: Grace died on 25th January 2013. R I P


Bits, bobs and spiders.

Inhalers for asthma are in the news lately. While in the Pharmacy on Friday, I overheard the Pharmacist asking a lady to send her son in to collect his inhaler, normally she would collect it for him.

Each inhaler user was being checked to make sure they were using the device in the proper way. I suppose with time, bad habits can take over and the inhaled gas or powder does not act like it should.

If taken in a haphazard way it might:

  • Go down the wrong way, which can do damage.
  • The breathing is incorrect and the contents cannot take effect, wasting money over time.

If you use an inhaler, please go and have a refresher lesson on how to use it. It might save your life!


Spiders do not like conkers. I hear they hate them and will not go anywhere near them.

Elly are you listening?

Leave them in the bathrooms or near open windows and doors, but make sure they are well out of Buffy’s way!

Maybe I should hang a couple near the PIR in my garage, to stop spiders setting off my house alarm.


Delores at Life on a limb wrote about prank calls the other day.

It brought me back to a call my mother answered one day. We were busy in the kitchen cooking and baking for the hoards who were expected to descend on us later in the evening. Apart from the sounds of the kitchen, the rest of the house was as quiet as a grave.

Mammy was closer and her hands were dry so she went to quieten the ring, ring sound on the old heavy fixed phone on the hall table. She was back in double quick time laughing her head off.

“Who was that?” I asked.

Still laughing she told me: “Some young lad who asked if I smoked after intercourse”!

“What did you say?” I said, trying not to giggle.

“I told him I had not checked lately. And hung up!”

Is it any wonder I have a weird sense of humour!


Following on from yesterday’s post Mobile telephony and the reaction to ICE numbers, my mind went into overdrive last night…

  • By law, all dogs need to be chipped before you can buy a dog licence. These microchips are inserted under the skin along the spine area with details of the dog and the owner. If a dog is found wandering, any vet can read the chip to help locate the owner.
  • Prisoners who are considered a danger to the public, can be tagged when paroled or waiting for a case to go to court.
  • Trolleys at supermarkets now have tags that prevent them from removal outside the boundary of the shop car park.

Surely we can do something like that to help keep track of vulnerable Alzheimer’s patients. I have know of many cases of these patients wandering.

Annie, an elderly widow, was found wandering up the street of her small town, late one wet and blustery evening. She had rollers in her hair (usual for a Saturday night), the apron she wore on a daily basis while doing household chores and her slippers. She did have her Sunday Best cardigan on over the apron and a large handbag over her arm, it contained only the church envelope with her weekly contribution. Thankfully she was found by someone who recognised her, but it took them time to convince her that it was not time for Sunday church service and to turn her round and bring her home.

Robert, was a widower and when it became unsafe to live alone, his daughter arranged for him to stay in an Abbeyfield house local to her. It was many miles away from where he had lived all his married life. A couple of times he went walk about, but was found before he ventured too far. One day he was not found in time. Robert went ‘walkies’ one bright morning and was found about twelve hours later, on a pavement not far from his old home, a victim of a fatal hit and run motor accident.

Then there was the sad tale of Peggy Mangan, 65, who suffered from Alzheimer’s. Peggy took her faithful dog Casper for a walk and never came home. I wrote about her in an earlier LBC post Ego,

Surely, if we have ways of tracking dogs, prisoners and supermarket trolleys…..

Alzheimer patients are more important and worth protecting from themselves, if not from accidents or lonely deaths, and their families from unnecessary heartache!


‘Beauty is the size of your heart, NOT the size of your jeans.’ No idea who said that.

My jeans are long but small. Hearts are small.

An average heart weighs 10 ounces. For something that small it can cause a mighty lot of problems.

I sometimes wonder if I really have a heart and if it is made of wood?

Maybe by the end of the day I will have an answer!

Buffy practicing for blog posting

Buffy practicing for blog posting

Buffy, will you mind Tobias for me today? Sure, now you know how to type on the keyboard. You are not to spend half the day on YouTube barking at the dogs and cats!

Laters folks!

Drugs, food and science

Brighid sent me a link to a very interesting post by Anne, last night, I thought many of you might like to read it.

Drugs, food and science.

I suggest you read the article first before  my thoughts below.

I am no scientist, but the part about the medications, particularly statins, I certainly agree with. I was prescribed statins a number of years ago, and ended up almost bedridden, unable to stand upright and in constant pain. I could not remember what I was supposed to be doing half the time, though I put that down to my being in pain.

Statins are cheap and that is why they are so widely prescribed. Two of my brothers, one in Australia and another in Dublin, had the same trouble as I had with meds. Each spoke to me at different times without knowing the other had done so. The common denominator for the three of us was a problem with Statins. I gave them the name of my replacement drug and told them to go back and talk to their doctors. Thankfully they listened and life has improved for all of us.

There are people out there who are on prescribed medications , and without consultation buy over the counter rubbish because Joe Soap swears by it. They forget it can react in a bad way to the prescribed items they are swallowing.

Now, the story about Mr Green Smoothie, pleading for donations to make a video, scares me. We are told he says:

He has everything he needs to make it (except money). He is an experienced film maker, has the necessary equipment, has doctors lined up to do blood work, has amazing athletes to cooperate — presumably to consume green smoothies. All he needs to prove his hypothesis — that green smoothies enhance athletic performance — is money.

If the evidence is so strong, how come some professionals are not ready to back him?

The GMO argument is another mine field and alas, I do not know enough to make any claims one way or the other. I do know that every second person I meet these days seems to suffer from some allergy.

I wonder if it is the age of the internet and the speed of how news, both good and bad travels the globe. You know how it is: A first hand story, becomes unrecognizable by the time it is fourth hand. This article is a case in point:

Could new polypill save thousands of lives?

The National Health Service (NHS) is our UK government provided health care. It shows how stories can spread like wildfire.

In my grandparents day, they did not have modern medications and antibiotics, so depended on the local ‘healer’ for remedies. We had a book at home years ago of these ancient remedies and they would scare the life out of you.

Enough from me, I need to make my breakfast.

Doctor, Doctor I think I’m a butterfly

Dr: Will you say what you mean and stop flitting about!

Right so, here I go……

The health care we receive, be it NHS/Medicare or care paid for by private insurance, can only be as good as the people providing that care.  Doctors & nurses are human, with all the same stresses and worldly cares that we the patients have. It might be troublesome teenagers, aging parents, grief at loss of a loved one or signs & symptoms of their own ill health knocking at their door.

When I was young we had a family GP who worked his practice single handed 24/7. He held two ‘non appointment’ surgeries, five days a week: 2 pm for one hour, and in the evening from six pm to seven thirty, the latter clinic often went on until nine pm, nobody was ever turned away. The remainder of the day was spent making house calls or arranging for hospital admittance or appointments.

DR H, lived along the avenue from us and had his surgery in a converted shed in the garden. It was divided into two rooms (I am going back to the 1950s &60s here).

You opened the outside door and entered the waiting room. A dozen unmatched dining chairs were placed around three walls. A well trodden square of carpet covered the floor and the remaining furniture was a coffee table with a scattering of well thumbed and dog-eared old magazines. Heating was provided by a two bar electric fire.

First patient in plugged in the fire to take the chill off the air, then went and sat next to the internal door to the Doctor’s surgery. Next patient came and sat beside them and soon there was a confessional queue of patients waiting to be seen. As a patient went in to see the Doctor, the others waiting their turn, all stood up as if in unison to move along the row of seats – sure it was good exercise and kept the blood flowing!

The surgery was no more modern than the waiting room. It had an examination table along one wall. On another was a lockable glass cabinet where he kept his few drugs and below it a small wash hand basin. On the floor near his desk and chair was a single gas ring on which sat a saucepan to boil and sterilize his syringes and needles. Finally there were two more chairs for patient and carer and at a safe distance, another two bar electric fire.

 How different that all seems to the clinics and surgeries of today:

  • Appointments to fit our timetable
  • Touch screen arrival check-ins.
  • Bright spacious waiting areas with comfortable seating (Thankfully the blasting television screens seem to have been removed).
  • Bleeping signs that show your name when the Dr is ready to see you.
  • Digital records and up to date results from X-Rays and hospital visits.
  • Out of hours doctors panels to deal with emergencies or see urgent cases in their own homes.

GPs today, mostly work in group practice. They spend their day seeing patients in surgery, on house calls or speak to them on the phone. Paper work – be it hard copy or digital – is the major headache and dirty word that they all have to deal with on a daily basis. Letters to Consultants and hospitals. Results of consultations, X-rays or blood tests all need to be read and decisions made. They have stats to fill and targets to meet and at the end of the day about 200 repeat prescriptions to sign. That last one is not as easy as it sounds. Medications that can cause so many complications by being added into the wrong mix – patient charts need checking – drug bibles need checking – eyes get tired, bodies need food, fathers and mothers need to get home and see their families…… They are human!

Many medical procedures are taken care of at the local surgery, or as a day patient in a hospital. Hospital stays are much shorter than in the past. When I had my appendectomy in 1966, the norm was a fourteen day stay in hospital. I was in bed for one full week and ambulatory for the next seven days. Nowadays that operation, like so many others, is most commonly performed as keyhole surgery and the patient discharged in a couple of days.

Today we have vaccines help us avoid:

  • Flu
  • HPV (human papilloma virus)
  • MMR – measles, mumps, rubella
  • pneumonia
  • polio
  • scarlet fever
  • Typhoid
  • Whooping cough
  • Antimalarial prevention comes in tablet form.

Cataracts, hips, knees, hearts, lungs and livers can now be replaced. With the possibility of somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) (taking donated egg cells from women and removing their genetic material. These are then fused with human cells – in this case skin cells – and the fused cell begins behaving in a similar way to an embryo by producing human stem cells) the future holds great possibilities.

BUT, yes it is a big one:

For every ailment or disease we seem to overcome, there are plenty more coming to our notice every day with no cure and at times no knowledge of how to treat them.

The medical world is changing – AT A PRICE!

Back in August 2009, Ronni Bennett from Time Goes By asked bloggers from both within and without the Unites States of America, to take part in a discussion on how healthy we found our Health Service, and link to her Health Debate on 20th August 2009.

I added my My Tuppenceworth to the debate finishing up with this paragraph:

Modern medicine is both wonderful and cruel, amazing advancements have been made over the years, but we have outlandish expectations for miracle cures. We are all living longer and the way the health service works will have to change.  Illnesses such as cancer, once considered fatal, are now becoming chronic. Joints and internal organs can be replaced, but there is no such thing as a free lunch… the price is often with (like me) constant reviews and extra medication all costing the state and our pockets to stretch a very long way. We seem to have forgotten that we must die at some stage. I would like to live for another ten to fifteen years, but please don’t keep me hanging on like a vegetable, for another twenty, thirty or forty years, somebody show mercy, open the door and push me outside the igloo!

Over my lifetime, I have witnessed the results of wonderful work both at the hands of public and private health care, but I have seen some dreadful mishaps too from both sides of the coin.

The medical world is changing – AT A PRICE!

Now I wonder if shackman agrees? He was responsible for setting this topic of national healthcare vs private on the table today. Now it is time to don the scrub outfits and enter the theater to see how the other members of our team are approaching the cut: The Old Fossil, Ramana, Delirious, Maxi, Shackman speaks, Ashok, Maria/Gaelikaa, Maria SilverFox, Padmum, Blackwatertown, Will Knott Rohit

Ice Numbers

This was originally a post in the form of a free online Podcast.

I was young and innocent back then and did not realise the truth: There is no such thing as a free lunch!  The early Podcasts are no more.

The Post has been revamped to appear in text form on 27th January 2012.

The information is always worth repeating.