Wednesday, November 28, 2007

New Computer - Urk!

I seem to have killed my lovely Acer laptop - am hoping that I can get my data (especially photos) off it. Yes, I know I should have done back ups. But I lost the cables for my external hard drive in 2006, and this year has been so hellish I never got time and energy to search for them.

So I trundle on with a new Toshiba P200-17C. Nice machine, I think I will have fun with it. Eventually.

Very embarrassed to find when I came to pay for it that I couldn't remember my PIN number for credit card. Fortunately John had sufficient available funds to cover it, but I feel really bad that he had to pay for me.

I'm having a few problems with getting Microsoft Vista to do what I want it to. For example, though I have Thunderbird as my default email program, MailWasher keeps opening Microsoft email when I "Process mail" to delete blacklisted and spam email.

Am using a simple work around at the mo - opening Thunderbird after checking and deleting email in Mailwasher, then immediately taking it offline. It's clumsy, and is a pain when emails are in html as you have to go online to see them. I wish all email lists would have a Plain Text Only option!

I'm sure that there's a way to do this better, but I am limited in how fast I can get to grips with new technology. Will be trying to sort it out when I have more time. Had hoped to put off buying a Vista machine for a few more months. But needs must when the devil drives! ;-)

Been offline since 22 November - eek, 6 days with no internet or email!!!

Painful withdrawal, interspersed with trying to get things going again. Read some books! I wonder if I can add a recently read books thingy to the side bar. Must look into that!

I highly recommend "The Executive Brain" by Elkhonon Goldberg. It's going to take me a while to read it right through, but it puts the role of of the frontal lobes of the brain into context. Very interesting, and also accessible for lay people like me.

No photos today, and possibly for a while, as I haven't worked that part of the new machine out yet!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Confusion strikes!

Yellow Chrysanthemums

Lovely bright chrysanthemums, a gift from our neighbour Pam. She said they are for optimism, that yellow is the colour for that.

Last Friday evening I went to see my Doctor to let her know she is likely to hear from DWP over my IB50. I took a paper with my main symptoms listed, and she was able to give me a copy of the neurologist's report from July 2005. I hadn't managed to get back to my GPs to find out what it said before - as anyone who has been reading regularly knows, Life just kept happening too fast.

Last Wednesday I did something weird to my chest. I was trying to open a bottle of tonic water, couldn't shift it, so was using one of those rubbery grabby sheets (from Lakeland Plastics), which I do find very effective usually. But this bottle was stubborn. I had it gripped in my right hand, while trying to twist the lid off with my left hand... It was clutched tight to my chest.

Suddenly there was a definite "clunk" feeling, it felt as if something had given in the front of my chest. It didn't hurt, it just felt, if you see what I mean. And then I managed to do the same thing (same bottle!) the next day too. By Friday when I saw my Doctor the only pain I had was in my right shoulder (made me yelp going down the stairs when hanging on to the bannisters), so she thought I had probably strained a muscle from the twisting action.

Over the weekend I have had pain over my sternum that has been worsening steadily. It hurts when I turn over in bed, so have had some bad nights. I find that when I walk around the house it helps if I place my hand firmly over my sternum, just gentle pressure. Probably co-incidental, but seem to have a lot of wind at the mo too.

Last night was a particularly bad night, had some vivid dreams, including one very muddled one about Mum and breaking a plate so all the chicken stuffing was lost. (!) Woke in the middle of the night, and watched Griff Rhys Jones' "Mountain" on Snowdonia as couldn't get back to sleep...

Woke up again to hear the News, glanced at clock, 6am, time to call John (He likes to swim before breakfast). Woke him, then fell asleep again. He brought up a pot of tea, went off to swim... Only to re-appear about half an hour later. The pool was shut - I'd misread the clock, and then he did as well. I'd woken him at 5am, not 6am! Think I must still be running on British Summer Time!

Since then I have had two spam phone calls and a call from Wirral Social Services about Mum's Nursing Home bill - they didn't know she had died! They will send a bill to us, and we will pass it on to Mum's solicitor. Heaven only knows when it'll get paid - we don't even have Probate on Dad's Will yet, and that has to be done before work can begin on Mum's.

Everything seems to take forever, not helped by the recent extended postal strike in Liverpool. Meant we weren't getting stuff sent to us, and also we were unable to post anything off. So a lot of papers were stuck here waiting for the strike to end.

Just wish it was all over and done with - I do worry when we get all these bills that we have no money to pay. But guess most of the utilities etc are accustomed to long waits on the death of a customer. We can't be the only folks who have to wait for Probate to get the wherewithall to pay the outstanding bills.

Sorry, bit of a doom and gloom day today. I am hoping to arrange counselling with the person I saw when I first got M.E. Don't think I'm depressed as such, but am not coping too well. Have a tendency to start crying for little reason, and am haunted by the last few weeks of Mum's life. So I got the Counsellor's phone number from my Doc last Friday, but haven't contacted her yet as have been so incapacitated with the strained muscle or whatever it is. Just don't feel up to travelling even locally at the moment.

Still enjoying sunsets from our bedroom window though.

Sunset Monday 2

Monday's sunset

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Remembrance Day

Poppy Day

Since I am unlikely to go anywhere to wear my poppy, my computer is wearing it instead.

Last night we watched The Festival of Remembrance from the Royal Albert Hall. When all the poppy petals float down from on high I remember that even when a small child I would think that one of those was for my Uncle Walter. He died in what is now Singapore, after VE day. My Mum was engaged to him, and when she heard that he had died she felt a great need to be with his mother. She arrived at Paddington Station, where Dad met her train. It was the first time they met. So without Walter dying when he did it is unlikely I would be here today.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Antiques Roadshow in Liverpool (and weird week)


Queueing for the Antiques Roadshow, St George's Hall, Liverpool

We went to St George's Hall the last time the Antiques Roadshow was in Liverpool. It was a lot of fun, even the queueing, both times. At least I managed to take some photos outside today!

We took a taxi down, as we thought it would be much too difficult to park anywhere particularly close, and I prefer to minimise my wheelchair travel as much as possible... Especially over cobblestones!

Dolphin lamp post

Dolphins on the base of a lamp post

When we arrived we noticed the queue was snaking up and over and down the steps in the front of St George's Hall. There was no way that we could manage that with the wheelchair, so John parked me at the bottom of the steps, and went to the back of the queue to ask the folks there to mark a place for us, and we would join behind them when they reached us.

Fun outside St George's Hall

Fun outside St George's Hall

Then someone saw me sitting in the wheelchair and offered their place in the line! They had decided not to wait any more, so decided to be kind to me. We explained we were happy enough to wait, and we didn't want to jump the queue. But the folks behind seemed happy enough for us to take the place of our benefactors, so we went for it.

Backlit queue

Shortly afterwards a young chap approached us and asked if we knew that wheelchair users had a special entry, and didn't have to wait. At some point John had been to the front of the queue and asked, to be told that we had to queue like everyone else.

Well, that seemed fair enough to us, other than that we couldn't manage the steps for the queue, but John had sorted that in a way that seemed fair to us. But this young man was insistant, and even went back to check that there was a seperate wheelchair access. Came back to tell us, and accompanied us to the door. (Well, he walked around the outside of the queue, we cut across inside to avoid the cobblestones)

Once inside it was a labyrinth to find the lift! Up to the first floor, along more corridors until we reached the right level. Into the Great Hall, and oh, the ceiling, the stained glass windows, the statues, the marble set behind them, the moulded and coloured roundels - George and the Dragon, Liverpool coat of arms, the Liverbird. Not to mention the amazing chandeliers, suspended from moulded ships prows. I tried to take photos, but sadly the light just wasn't good enough.

Everyone was very kind. When we first entered the Great Hall one of the Roadshow crew fetched us the labels we needed (books, china and miscellaneous) so we were able to begin the individual queuing.

We went for china first, it was a pretty long wait, but in the wonderful surroundings, and with chatting with other folks in the queue, and watching things being set up for filming (suspect will be an item on slavery) the time went pretty fast. A note to self for next time - not a lot of folks took glass.

Followed up with a pretty short queue for Miscellaneous and then a somewhat longer one for Books. John was standing behind me in the Book queue (he had to push the chair) and thinking something along the lines of "there's a lot of people here, bit odd we haven't met anyone we know" and about 30 seconds later someone comes rushing up to me to say Hello!

Margaret, who I used to work with before I got ill. She was a bit surprised to see me in a wheelchair. She said she retired a couple of years ago. I knew exactly who she was, but simply could not remember her name when she greeted us. Think this is cognitive dissonance - Antiques Roadshow and (ex-)work don't mix in my mind. Unexpected juxtaposition.

Roadshow Lorry

As for the rest of the week it was all rather awful.

Monday got IB50 (EEEK!), but from Birkenhead not Liverpool, which worried me. Managed to get advice from some folks on email Lists that allayed some of my worries. And John called DWP in Birkenhead on Tuesday and found that dealing with the forms is centralized within areas rather than cities and towns now.

I re-joined the wonderful Benefits and Work. Took a look at their advice on filling IB50 in, and fell asleep...

Next morning (Wed I think) found I'd kicked the dregs of my glass over, splattered keyboard and screen, computer frozen and couldn't re-boot. EEEK again!

Kept trying to re-boot over next few days, finally somehow (not sure how!) managed to get to a screen that let me take the system back to how it was when last working. I am not going to try and install my (perfectly good otherwise) printer on this laptop again, as I think maybe that was the root of the problems.

At least I finished reading 3 books while I couldn't get computer to work.

But don't want to go through that again anytime soon!