Inspiration…

It’s been a few days since I last posted, I have several posts, planned. 

First of all, let me say congratulations to my friends’, P and L who celebrate their first wedding anniversary, today. 

Secondly, I dedicate this post to a very special lady, my grandma. 

My gran, recently celebrated her 80th birthday and it was to her house, I headed last weekend. 

My grandma is a great believer in “exercise and fresh air”. Twice daily, she puts her coat on, wheels her walking frame out the door and heads off for a mile long walk, sometimes longer, accompanied by her partner in crime, Bertie, her dog. 

This is a pretty good accomplishment, for someone her age, but even more so when you learn of the health problems she has.

I will always remember my grandma, walking for miles, working hard and cycling everywhere. This was despite severe asthma, both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis and being diagnosed with Parkinsons Disease, in her mid-forties. Then, in 1989 and at the age of only 52, she suffered her first stroke.

This came completely out of the blue, she had come home from work, gone to bed and woke with limited movement in her right side. Following her stroke, her ability to walk was left significantly impaired and she was never able to work again. 

Three and half years later, in the summer of 1992, she suffered a second and much bigger stroke. This left her confined to a wheelchair and with limited movement down her right side. 

My gran waged her own personal battle, to recover and slowly over the coming months and years, she regained some of her mobility. I’ll never forget my shock, visiting her 18 months later and witnessing her, get out of her chair and walk! 

Over the coming years, she had further mini strokes, or a TIA as they are otherwise known, along with further, small strokes, otherwise known as a CVA.

In 2001, her husband, my grandad, passed away, which was a real body blow for my gran. We all expected that she would probably need to go into a nursing home. She eventuality, however settled into sheltered housing and with the support  of carers, managed well. 

It was her carer that found her, in 2008, unconscious. She’d suffered a massive stroke in her sleep. Unbeknown to us, she’d had a significant TIA, the previous Wednesday, but had refused to go to hospital as she didn’t want to miss our visit on the Sunday. Late in our visit, on the Sunday, we had noticed our grans facial expression change and her behaviour became “slightly odd”.

On arrival, at hospital, her heart stopped and she had to be given CPR, this left her heart permanently damaged.

We, as a family, where advised to get down there quick, as they weren’t expecting her to survive. She did, but the first weeks were awful, she was unable to carry out the simplest of tasks,  her mobility was gone and she had little awareness of the world around her, her reactions and speach slowed and she had to be fed through a tube.

Physiotherapy started and as soon as she was given a walking frame, she was off! Her recovery was little short of miraculous, after six weeks she moved to a rehab unit. It was here, she has a further set back, a further stroke that left her partially sighted. 

My gran returned home, she was largely confined to a wheelchair, able only to walk around the house and garden. She kept going, working hard to increase her mobility, a further set back came later that year, when she suffered a further small stroke, unfortunately she sustained a burns to her hands, she was holding a newly boiled kettle as she fell.

Despite all this, she attended my sisters wedding, demanding to be wheeled on to the dance floor and assisted to be pushed, in her wheelchair, in time with the music. She finally crawled off to bed, at midnight, with balloons tied to her wheelchair, taking great delight in been carried up the stairs, assisted by he groom, best man and a group of his friends. 

As the years passed by, my gran was to experience further small strokes and TIA’s. Then, five years ago, she had a heart attack, in an ambulance, while on a bridge spanning a river. She shot through, the toll booth, at speed! 

Despite the many struggles she’s faced, she has remained fiercely independent and determined to regain, some of mobility she lost. 

She’s now had 7 or 8 strokes, numerous TIAs, two heart attacks, has asthma and widespread and severe arthritis, lived with Parkinsons disease for over 30 years and has only one kidney. Many people give up, with far less, and take the easy route. My gran, steadfastly determined, keeps going! 

You will hear the odd “complaint” that she’s in pain, in reality, she’s in agony. She is steadfastly determinated, no matter what and as stubborn as a mule, there are a few things she can’t do, but by and large, with most things she’ll give it a go, “because she wants to”.

Often, she’ll say, I know I’m going to be in pain tonight and I know I’m going to have a bad night, but I don’t care, because I want to do this and it doesn’t matter, because I’ve really enjoyed myself. My gran rarely lets, her health problems stop her or hold her back. She puts many people in the shade. I’m proud of her.

The real turning point in her life, was three years ago, when she was asked to care for a “friend of a friends” dog. A dog who had been neglected, named Bertie, Bertie has revolutionised her life. 

She and Bertie are inseparable, he follows her everywhere. He goes into the bathroom with her, sleeps on her bed and their life’s revolve around each other. Bertie, is a busy, active dog who loves a walk. So my gran started taking him for regular walks and their walks together, gradually got longer.

As a result of Bertie, her mobilty improved, as did her social life. She regularly meets up with othet dog walkers, in the park, and stops and has a natter with them.

Last weekend, we went out on the Saturday. I was astounded, when she walked the best part of two miles and then, on her return home, took Bertie for a walk, despite my protestations, to rest and that I would walk him. 

She really is an amazing lady, watching her determined efforts to keep active and maintain her independence, through the most challening of times, is inspirational. I know thst there will be dsy, weeks even, where swimming is impossible, but my gran is a constant reminder. 

Never say, I can’t and never give up!!

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