Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Boys' Garden Toys

Since the boyfriend's illness, the household chores that used to be his are now down to me. He has 350ft of garden. That means 700ft of hedge. That is an awful lot to prune.

I started off tackling 15ft a day with the shears. I soon realised that by the time I was halfway down one side (that is, if I hadn't fallen in the pond or frazzled myself on next door's electric fence in the process), the first bits I had chopped would have started growing again. I was never going to be able to start on the other side at all.

And so the boyfriend introduced me to the electric hedge trimmer. Now, the EHT somewhat resembles a bright orange tailless shark with its serrated blade and fin-like handles. To work it, you have to squeeze in two places simultaneously. Not only are these positioned for large male hands and need a strong male grip, but the beast also weights half a stone and I am only 5ft 4ins. I have also never used a piece of electric garden equipment in my life, especially one capable of severing limbs and decapitating small animals. Maybe large ones, too. Maybe even me.

Now, I have a phobia about anything with a motor that might run amok and get beyond my control. Sewing machines and cars are out of the question. Electric carving knives? Forget it. My psyche is rooted in the stone age, though I'd probably have had a phobia about the first ever Flintstones-style stone wheel.

Nevertheless, I picked the EHT up and did a sweep of the hedge. "No, no, you're doing it all wrong, the blade must be flat to the hedge. Look, you've gouged a hole in the privet," complained the backseat gardener. I growled at him, climbed the ladder, heaving the EHT after me, then did a sweep of the top. That's when I discovered that puny 5ft 4ins females with undeveloped biceps, arthritic elbows and short arms aren't cut out for cutting hedges. Especially 700ft hedges. What I need is a giraffe which can operate a hedge trimmer with its jaws, or perhaps a carefully trained elephant. Please apply here.

Monday, 23 July 2007

Stroke Progress

It's now 24 days since my boyfriend had his double Type 2 stroke which paralysed his right-hand side. He can now walk very well but he still can't use his right hand much, though yesterday he found he could whistle again and today he could poke his tongue out straight, instead of only to one side.

He is still trying to push himself too far. Today, he walked all the way to the Iceland store, about a mile and a half away, and back. He arrived exhausted, with a backpack full of frozen veg that weighted a ton. He then collapsed onto the sofa looking done-in and is now asleep under a duvet.

I worry about him all the time. I worry in case he has another stroke from which he might not recover. I worry about my own precarious position, with my house sale going through and my belongings having suffered yet another soaking in his shed, and the pressure on me to find another house where I have no mortgage and have the peace and time to write, and the equal pressure to stay and look after him.

My Google horoscope for today (Pisces) tells me to be patient. I guess this is the key to everything. The one good thing that has happened to me in the last few days is finding the ultimate in noise-blocking earplugs. The Boots own label foam ones in the green packet. They cost £1.99 for three pairs and I'm about to clear their shelves. My old earplus only lessened the traffic noise slightly, but these provide perfect peace. After reading the first 50 pages of the latest Harry Potter last night, I lay there, eyes closed, marvelling at the quietness. Though I think, for perfect relaxation, I need medieval head armour and a bullet-proof vest, too.

Saturday, 21 July 2007


I have a bullet hole in the window of the front bedroom I sleep in. Tonight someone shot a hole through the front door glass. Not big boy bullets, but an air rifle or a ball bearing gun, which is still enough to blind you or do some serious damage. There is no back bedroom. Boyfriend sleeps in the attic which is much too hot for me and he doesn't like the fan on. I've just realised that it's no wonder I'm so tense I can't sleep. I hate the city. If he hadn't been recovering from a stroke, I would have gone. Tonight. Anywhere. Preferably somewhere deep in the countryside where the only marauders are rats. But hang on... I don't like them much, either. I could get a cat. Or a terrier. Or buy an air rifle.

Friday, 13 July 2007


My stomach is roiling and burning and I am back on Ranitidine. My boyfriend is making brilliant progress, though he won't try to ride his mountain bike again for a while. On Wednesday, the day after he came out of hospital, I was appalled to see him circling the lawn on his bike. As his balance is still a bit wonky, he came to a sticky end, lying on his back waving his limbs in the air like an upended beetle. I ticked him off whilst examining him for damage. "Just imagine if you'd broken your leg and had to be taken to hospital. They'd ask you when you were last in, and you'd have to say you'd only got out yesterday. Would they call you an idiot?" He agreed that they would and promised not to ride it again for at least a week.

Today, he proudly demonstrated how he had re-taught his right hand to tie his shoelaces. It was like watching a five-year-old show Mummy his latest accomplishment - until he pointed out the difference, which is that his mind already knew how to do it and it was just a matter of getting the message through to his fingers. But he did it, and I felt so proud. He even walked down the stairs without having to grip both sides, and without a lurch round the corner. His speech is a lot clearer now, too. He had his double stroke only 15 days ago. I wonder if his is the most rapid recovery on record?

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Stroke News

Great news! After 13 days in hospital, my boyfriend can chew and swallow, walk (even though it resembles the lurch of a drunken sailor), and can wiggle the fingers of the affected hand, although cutting up food, getting wrappers off things and picking up a tea mug is beyond him as yet.

The reason they let him out so soon was because he completed what should have been three weeks of physio exercises in just three days. The man is quite miraculous in his determination and focus. He had a double stroke, one twenty minutes after the other, caused by 'electrical activity in the brain', which is medic-speak for we don't know what the hell caused it.

The cat has ceased to sulk and, as he can't drive (six weeks ban as his vision in his right eye is still squiffy, apart from having only one working hand), he has turned himself into Alan Titchmarch and is saving me having to water the plants as he can manipulate a hose-pipe with no trouble at all.

All of which puts my tiny health problems into perspective. However, I have signed on with a GP up the road to my boyfriend's and have got two months' supply of ulcer tablets and the promise of some physio for the dodgy fingers. The doctor approves of herbs and alternative treatments - she recommends Glucosamine and was interested in my arnica gel pain relief.

One more piece of news - at long last it looks as if I may have sold me house! But, oh bitter chagrin, the house I sold for £325,000 back in 2003 is now back on the market for £500,000. If only I had held onto it, I would now be able to achieve my dream of having a flat in London and a place in the sun. As it is, I have travelled backward in the property market while everyone else has surged forward, and will have to put my faith in the good old Lottery. Byeeee - I'm off to buy a ticket!