Reality

Late last night I was watching the news channel and a government expert was being interviewed about people struggling to leave the house since lockdown was eased. We will ignore the fact that the easing has been halted and areas are starting to fall back under emergency regulations. The experts take was that it was perfectly safe for everyone to go about their normal business. People should get out, go to the park or better to a restaurant. Those struggling should be brave and get out. Those still struggling to get out should arrange to see a health professional. This Government had put in support to facilitate this.

Ok…..

We’ve been lucky. We might get to see a nurse this month but we’ve had to fight tooth and nail for that. Because of cutbacks son has not been seen by a Paediatrician in well over 2 years now… 6 of his 7 support services have been removed. But again we are lucky. Far too many don’t get any support at all.

It’s 3am and I heard our son call. He had gone to the bathroom and because he had gone barefoot he desperately needed to wash his feet. So just before the morning bird chorus started I was running the bath so he could ease his anxieties. He is currently not able to touch taps. Towels can only be used once before they are washed. His bedding has to be washed daily. He has to wash his hands every few minutes. He can’t even touch is own shoes and clothes with his hands. Tell me how he is supposed to be brave and just get outside. The government just has not got the slightest idea of the problems facing so many in our communities. The health professionals just don’t have the resources to cope. It’s taken a pandemic to expose the true folly of focusing cutbacks on mental health and support services. When will our leaders wake up to the reality of life for so many households in our countries.

Groundhog Day

One of Hawklads favourite movies is Groundhog Day. Must admit a I’ve always liked that film. I’m showing my 1000 year plus age now by saying FILM. Anyway I liked that Bill Murray film because it was funny and a bit about redemption. Repeatedly through life I’ve had that Groundhog Day feeling. It’s so hard to put down on paper. That feeling that on this long journey, the circumstances and challenges remain unchanged. Never ending. What ever I do, they just seem to repeat. Slowly it’s starts to eat away at my inner self. Plays havoc with my emotions. My inner belief ebbs away. That’s when it feels like I need another caring hand to lead me into a new tomorrow. So yes I get this movie.

Hopefully I’m not as bad as Phil was at the start of the film – sorry movie. But again it is starting to feel like days are starting to repeat themselves. Even when I try to introduce something new, try just that little harder, then the next day starts very like the previous day. Stuff just keeps repeating itself.

  • A largely sleepless night,
  • Get up and do the same exercises in the garden,
  • Try to get the dog to go outside for his charge around and do his morning constitutional,
  • Check the news – these days it’s always the same headline and the same frustrations,
  • Sticking to the same fasting diet regime,
  • Cooking the same meals for Hawklad (he has the same 7 day food menu which he sticks to),
  • Sort out the mess the pets have made,
  • Hoover and clean the same rooms (we only have 5 small ones, a bathroom and a kitchen to worry about),
  • Try to get the old washing machine door to lock so I can do a wash,
  • Have the same thoughts about been able to run free beyond our garden fence enclosures, *** don’t get me wrong I am so thankful for the garden, so many wonderful people don’t have that***
  • Look at the same walls, with the same pictures, often feeling like they are closing in on me,
  • Spend far too long moaning about the weather,
  • Check the work system and email the same people, saying basically the same thing,
  • Wash up the same plates and cups,
  • Make a list of today’s challenges and they are the same as yesterday’s, the week before, last months…..
  • Jump on the scales and whisper PANTS,
  • Want to eat healthily but having to rely on Soya (Soy). Then watching my body just basically say NO,
  • Try to find my keys which are missing again,
  • Walk 40 yards to the post box to post a letter – my big trip out of the day,
  • Start the car up to make sure the battery doesn’t go flat,
  • The things that brought pain and doubt yesterday are still here today,
  • Check the bank account and whisper BIG PANTS,
  • Talk to Hawklad about hand washing every time he goes to the bathroom – which is about every 10 minutes,
  • Wash my hands constantly to help ease Hawklad’s fears,
  • Unblock the toilet and kitchen sink once a day, the builder who installed those was clearly having a laugh –
  • Reset the WiFi at about the same time every day as it’s gone down with cabin fever,
  • Try to get the cat to eat it’s gluten, grain, dairy free food when clearly it just wants to eat all the stuff that gives it diarrhoea,
  • Bake and Fail – that’s a great book title…..
  • Field the same calls, from the same companies offering the same services I don’t want,
  • If and when it rains, try to stop a flood next to the back door. Basically ends up mopping out the pools of water,
  • Paying bills,
  • Trying to chase moths and insects out of the house – the price you pay for living next to a farm,
  • Fight the same fears and demons,
  • Face the same self questioning,
  • Once a week cut the lawn with a lawnmower which basically hates cutting grass,
  • Every second Thursday realise the garden bin is still basically empty so have a mad gardening rush,
  • My dreams are still just dreams, seemingly no nearer becoming reality,
  • Go to bed so hoping for sleep, yet…..

Now don’t get me wrong some of the routine is just so fantastic. I just wouldn’t dream of changing those things. Going out in the garden at about the same time every day and talking with Hawklad. Spending time with him. Thinking of friends. Finding ways to make connections with those who are special to me. Looking at beautiful photos and videos – and smiling. Having fun playing games. Doing a bit of writing or waffling depending on your viewpoint. Saturday night movie night.

So yes it does feel like Groundhog Day. This time it may well keep feeling this way until our personal lockdown has been partially lifted. Maybe this time it’s could be labelled as Cabin Fever. Whatever it is, just like Phil in the movie, it often feels like I am the only one stuck in this repeat cycle. AND let’s not forget a really important factor – some people long for that repetitiveness. Hawklad is one. So maybe Groundhog Day can also be a good thing. Just got to go with the flow, make each day count as best I can and worry about tomorrow if it ever arrives.

With one hand

August 2018

It’s been too long since I stood by the sea. Far too long. For someone born in a small north eastern seaside town, that’s tough. Genuinely don’t know when it will happen again. My gut feel is not in 2020. Our Government of Fools has now start reversing it’s rushed reopening plans. Yesterday it was perfectly safe to visit cinemas without a mask. Today you MUST wear a mask for your favourite movie. Yet kids and teachers are still expected to go mask free in classrooms. Last Friday we were being told to support the holiday industry and travel as it was safe. Just days later that all changed and more countries are being urgently added to the quarantine list with thousands of tourists now already out there. Even though those countries have much lower rates of deaths and infections than the UK.

Tougher lockdown regimes are being reintroduced into some areas with significantly rising infection rates . One such area is uncomfortable close to us. That is doing nothing for Hawklads anxiety levels. And now his garden consultation with his new health worker is in doubt. Such visits are now under review again. Somedays it feels like it’s one step forward and then one back. That’s at a time when his obsessive hand washing and fear of touching surfaces continues to mount.

But there is always hope and is it really one step forward, one step back…

When I first started climbing I hated having to retrace steps. One step forward, one step back seemed such a waste. A failure. Something to be avoided at all costs. But over time I learnt wiser ways. Things like climbing in things like pink compression tops and tight blue leggings is really not cool at all. Things like collecting rain water from rocky pools to drink might be a life saver but it doesn’t taste as nice as a can of coke stuffed into my climbing pack. Things like it’s not a great team building idea to lead a pitch when you have spilt asunder your tight blue leggings. I also learned that retracing steps is often a good thing. The times a few moments of retreat and sideways steps actually leads to a much easier and safe climbing way forward.

So yes things are tough and that garden visit would be useful but…..

The word BUT sounds to negative, maybe however is better.

However we do at least have access to the service still. That’s a huge bonus. The garden visit would bring stress currently, so if it doesn’t happen then it’s one less thing for Hawklad to worry about. It also encourages us both to try new things, see if we can find our own way through this maze. There will be things we haven’t tried. Maybe potential help has been there all the time and we just haven’t looked hard enough for it. Too much relying on someone else to find it for us. Maybe the only solution for Hawklad is to bunker down for a few more months until those clever vaccine people find something that works. So maybe retracing some steps is the best way forward.

There is always hope and yes I still have a pair of tight blue leggings…..

Guides

Nice weather

I needed to remind myself of some nice weather as the actual weather is more like this….

Wet, wet, wet. 20 hours of non stop winter weather. I do love a Yorkshire summer. I guess we should call it grand weather for the Rhubard…..

Work is similarly frustrating. Since the so called government (sorry trying to cut back on my rants…) announced the relaxing of the rules we had a number of events put on our books for September and October. But as fast as I start to schedule them and fill in the details, THEY GET CANCELLED. Unless we manage to run a few of these then our organisation will have to mothball and hope to hibernate through to 2021. No guarantee that it would survive that. Sadly like so many other places.

I keep saying this but I do need to spend some time on employment options. Find some other options that can fit round Hawklad. But what…

“Dad maybe it’s time to take those Dummy Guides further. Take them to a whole new level. Dummy doesn’t go far enough. Must be people needing the Full Muppet Guide to Life. Only one person truly qualified for that job…..”

Thinking about it, it’s an endless source of material.

  • Muppet guide to Government (Co author Dominic Cummings),
  • Muppet guide to Brexit (Co author Boris Johnson),
  • Muppet guide to Parenting,
  • Muppet guide to IKEA flat pack furniture,
  • Muppet guide to weapons grade baking,
  • Muppet guide to finding your car keys,
  • Muppet guide to poetry and making it so unremittingly awful,
  • Muppet guide to homeschooling,
  • Muppet guide to shouting at school,
  • Muppet guide to animals taking over your home,
  • Muppet guide to falling asleep during Avatar,
  • Muppet guide to getting lost,
  • Muppet guide to putting your subway (Tube) ticket safely in your pocket and then not being able to find it as soon as a Ticket Collector appears,
  • Muppet guide to trying to remember where you were going in the first place,
  • Muppet guide to losing socks,
  • Muppet guide to getting paper jammed in a photocopier,
  • Muppet guide to learning and then forgetting a foreign language.
  • Muppet guide to becoming a famous Mills & Boon author,
  • Muppet guide to ineffective house work,
  • Muppet guide to understanding Tolkien’s Silmarillion,
  • Muppet guide to juggling,
  • Muppet guide to singing in the bath so out of tune you end up sounding like Bono and U2,
  • Muppet guide to healthy weeds,
  • Muppet guide to arm wrestling and shin kicking,
  • Muppet guide to getting the cellophane wrapper off a cd with a kitchen knife and then not being able to open a sticking plaster with the one remaining good hand,
  • Muppet guide to growing old disgracefully.

Nice

Love seeing a deep blue sky. Today we had glimpses. Nice while it lasted, which wasn’t very long. But it’s better than nothing.

Thankfully we have been able to secure a replacement for his lovely nurse counsellor. Might actually get a consultation sometime in August. Even better it will be in our garden. So Hawklad won’t be stressed out at the thought of travelling 30 miles to the hospital. It’s something. It’s another start. The first stages will be to see if son can build up a link with the new person. These links don’t come easily. If a link is established then work can start on this germ anxieties and obsessive hand washing. It’s a long term project. Certainly won’t be seeing any results prior to the schools returning in September. It’s one step at a time. Some things go beyond my parenting capacity so I’m really thankful for any help.

Where does that leave going back to school. Nothing has changed. It’s still Hawklads call. I just can’t see how he can go back given his fears of touching any surfaces. Even the expert health opinion is that any return is unlikely any time soon for him. It might take months of work to start to see any progress and progress is not guaranteed. The school situation complicates things. On the one hand our PM is saying schools are perfectly safe to open without observing social distancing. On the other hand schools are being warned to make plans for shutdowns starting in October. It’s just a mess.

So I need to make plans for both homeschooling and for a return to the classroom. Must admit I’m currently too tired to think straight on these matters. I will leave it for a week or so. Let’s see if we can sort out a true staycation. Might do both of us good to have break from the worries. Given we won’t be leaving our own little word, maybe staycationing is another way of saying doing the same stuff, just don’t worry about schooling. Sadly it’s still not really Tent in the Garden weather. We need a little more blue skies. That would be nice…..

Life snapshot

The Aspergers life can be racked with anxieties and obsessive behaviours. Additionally Aspergers can frequently coexist with OCD. Add the death of a mum and both grannies. Then on top of that you add a pandemic. Something has to give with that kind of pressure building up. That’s what our son is dealing with and it is so very tough for him. What does that mean in practice. Well here is a snapshot of life and the impact it has on him.

Every ache, every sneeze, every spot, every pain is seen as a potential sign of a serious disease or the C word. Anxieties bring on indigestion and constipation. These are then seen by him as more potential warnings of serious, life threatening health conditions. The natural response was to frequently wash his hands. It was both to cleanse his hands but also an attempt to pour water on the raging anxiety wildfire. Washing to the point of red raw skin. These issues have existed for years but slowly during 2019 slow progress started to happen. The hand washing was just about brought under control. Then the pandemic hit. The progress was instantly lost. Suddenly the months of reassuring talk a out avoiding serious illnesses, the bodies capacity to fight back and the advances in medical science are basically blown out of the water. The problems started to mount up again and escalate to new heights.

  • Hand washing every few minutes. From 15 second washing now to washing for minutes at a time.
  • A reluctance to dry washed hands as towels might be a source of germs.
  • Harmful germs are seen to exist everywhere. Suddenly it’s difficult for him to touch taps, toilet handles and door knobs. Sheets of paper have to be left next to these so he can avoid touching them directly. Even pulling on a shirt may result in the potentially unclean sleeves coming into contact with his hands. Shoes have to be put on without using his hands.
  • iPads and joysticks have to be washed frequently and definitely before he touches them. It’s the same for things like pens.
  • When he strokes his pets he will immediately run to wash his hands.
  • He needs to see evidence that I wash my hands before I touch any of his items.
  • Clothes have to be frequently washed often multiple times a day.
  • Outside he is constantly looking out for flies and flying bugs. If they come too close then he will need to go inside to wash.
  • He has to have his own seat and no one is allowed to touch it. If they do then the seat has to be cleaned.
  • When he goes out the the front door then he consciously tries to avoid walking over any areas that the postman or others might have walked across. When he comes back in them his shoes will need to be completely cleaned. If he ventures through the front gate and into the outside world then on his return he will completely strip, shower and change to new clothes. Those rules apply to me as well.
  • Mouth-washing and gargling is frequently repeated during the day.
  • Any item which hits the ground (inside or out) will need to be deep cleaned.
  • Any new food items have to go into the garage and complete a quarantine period if at least three days.

This is daily life in our little home. I do my best to reassure, reason and modify behaviours. But it feels nothing more than trying to plug a leaking dam at present. One hole maybe plugged but in the meantime another two new holes have appeared. Counselling was there but government cutbacks have taken their toll on services. The pandemic has temporarily suspended specialist help. The result is massive backlogs and no access to help. These are tough times. For him and yes me as well. As a parent you feel helpless, definitely so underprepared for these challenges. But we keep going. We pick ourselves up and go again. Yes we will get there. We will. But it will take time. Realistically maybe well into 2021. In practice timescales don’t matter, we take each day as it comes, fortified by the love of friends.

Cramming

This was a year ago. It must have been taken on one of my really long running routes. As it was the last week of term, I would be trying to cram in as many long runs as possible before the 6 week school holidays started. If only I had crammed in a few super long runs before the pandemic kicked in during March this year. Actually thinking about it, I wish I had crammed in a few other things as well those long 4 months ago

  • Real ice cream
  • Slush puppies
  • Hill walking
  • Climbing
  • Trips to the beach
  • Trips to Switzerland
  • Trips to see my football team play – on seconds thoughts, who wants to see them get beat again….
  • Trips to Castles and Roman sites
  • Rock concerts
  • Visits to my sisters and brother
  • Trips to see some special friends
  • A few mountain biking sessions
  • A trip to the running shoe shop
  • A trip to a coffee and cake shop
  • A trip to the hot donut shop
  • A trip to the paper shop to stock up on paper, pens, PENCILS, paint, crayons and other school stationary cupboard requirements
  • Trip to the garage, my car has been broken since March now
  • A trip to the chip shop
  • Clothes shopping for the next year of Hawklad’s growth
  • Bathroom paper (toilet roll), face mask and soap shopping
  • A trip to the toy shop for Christmas gifts
  • Garden furniture shopping – the Yorkshire winters are not kind on outside chairs
  • Second hand book store

Thinking about books, the one place I am so glad I never crammed in was a trip to the Library. My books would now be 4 months overdue – that would be some hefty fine.

Blue

Blue Sky. Well just a bit but it makes such a difference. It really does.

After weeks of not using the work’s computer system it’s such a shock when you have to finally turn it back on again. Not a clue what my username or password is. I picked something I would never forget which I have now forgotten….. In fact where is the laptop ON button. Trying to tell my fingers that it’s not a touch control screen, that’s the reason you get psychedelic colour patterns every time I press it. What’s a keyboard. Having somehow turned the computer on, it must be time for a hot drink. See back in the swing of work already. When I returned the computer had decided to upgrade itself and was stuck at 4%. So the computer was quickly back in the normal swing of things as well. So the hot drink was enjoyed outside. That blue does look good…

So I’m back inside and ready to rumble. Now the upgrade is at 2% completion. As a professional accountant I can just about work out that it’s just lost 2% of its upgrade thingy in the last 20 minutes. So it’s de-upgrading. I can’t work out if that means it will complete sometime in 2026 or maybe it would have been completed in 2014 in a time-warping kinda way. Randomly throwing pink socks at the screen I guess will not speed things up. I wonder if the laptop finds that really annoying. Strangely I find it very therapeutic. Just like lovely friends and blue skies.

Really

There was a time when you could put some faith in the UK Government doing the right thing and providing a modicum of truth…….

So the Government are instructing parents to send their kids back to school after the summer holidays. The clear message is that it is perfectly safe. No need to worry. In fact no need for schools to observe most of the current pandemic and social distancing regulations. Those things just complicate the return process. Parents who fail to comply will be fined.

On the other hand….

A number of areas are reporting spikes in Corona Virus cases particularly amongst the younger age groups. The Director of Public Health from Liverpool issued the following warning – “this is a really dangerous moment for case numbers and we need people not to let their guard down.”

When the Prime Minister’s Chief Advisor broke lockdown rules he was defended by our so called leader. Johnson said the following “he behaved responsibly and with integrity and followed the instincts of every father.”

I will happily see you in court Boris….

Flaming summer

A beautiful rose is a timely reminder that its flaming summer. Strange that it’s so very grey, wet and the heating is on full blast. At least there is no need for the air conditioning in the car. My car AC is savage. It has basically two settings OFF and REFRIGERATION. However due to a electrical fault I cannot now switch it off. It’s a cold car. There is a downside to the refrigeration setting. When I took the facial temperature check I registered as a fault on the digital thermometer. Too Low. I had to quickly try to warm up to record a reading. Thinking about it maybe that’s a common problem in a Yorkshire. Can I find a way of turning up the heating any further.