Andy's Story

Andy Blagden is a young man, married to Charlotte and has 3 children; Lauren, Katie and Nathan. (The children were 12, 9 & 2.5 years old at the time of diagnosis).
Andy was diagnosed with a tumour in his spinal cord in June 2013. The tumour was at spinal level Cervical 3 going down to Thoracic 2 (C3-T2). This is incredibly high up the neck and the only option was to operate. This in itself was not without risk but after a 15-16 hour operation the tumour had been removed. The outlook was good. Then Andy became ill....
Early September Andy contracted pneumonia and then sepsis, Andy's kidneys then failed and he was put on constant dialysis for a month and required a blood transfusion during this time.
Andy came through all this but he now lives with the consequences; paralysed from the shoulders down and unable to breathe without ventilatory support, this is his ongoing story of rehabilitation with the goal of getting back home to his family and his future.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Possum

This post is about possums, no NOT Dame Edna Everage either!! (Hello possums!) but the possum environmental controls unit.

If you want to find out more then look at the website www.possum.co.uk but, in short, through the regional environmental controls department Andy is getting a primo+ unit which will be tailored to his wants and needs but will allow him to operate the television, telephone and lamps independently of anybody else. He will also get a pager system which means he can buzz for help rather than shouting until he's heard.

I can't tell you how I'm excited I am about it as it will finally get Andy on the road back to depending on himself, even if it is for 'little' things, such as choosing his TV channel, browsing the TV guide, choosing lighting levels or phoning people.  The environmental controls people will also look at controls that'll give Andy use of the computer once again. One of the most exciting things for me is the pager system which will mean that when Andy and I go out we can have approximately 300m distance between ourselves and the staff and still be able to page them if and when needed. A massive step on the road of independence. Whilst Andy may always need high levels of care every little thing he can do for himself is empowering for him and to him.

When the EC guys turned up there was an engineer and an OT, well it turned out the OT had worked alongside Andy's London OT and actually knew of him before she came, how bizarre is that!!

This is the type of unit that Andy will be getting, that will be able to clamp on to his wheelchair. He'll be using it with a click switch that he just needs to bang at the appropriate time to make it work.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Fundraising again!

For whatever reason Andy's pain has increased in frequency and he's taking the prescribed pain medication, Oromorph, more often than he used to. Oromorph is a form of morphine so this isn't a good thing and we need to find other ways of dealing with this.

Andy is under the pain management team at the hospital and one of the options they've offered is a Qutenza patch treatment. Qutenza is part of the anaesthetics medicines and is a patch applied at the hospital and then removed at the hospital and then it can work for up to 3 months! Andy has had one of these patches applied and we will be waiting to see if/how it works. 

Whilst this has potential to be good for Andy it's not a long-term solution, BUT, I have found something I believe will be a long-term solution: 
Niagara therapy. (www.niagaratherapy.co.uk) 
We already use a product of the Niagara range called a Niagara cyclopad for Andy's hands, fingers and arms. We have seen the benefit of this already in his hands in that they remain straight and pliable. 

WHAT IS NIAGARA THERAPY?
Niagara therapy does medical devices certified to class llA certification.

NHC Cyclo-Therapy is a drug free treatment designed to help the body with its natural functions, mainly focussing on improving blood flow through the soothing effect of massage.

"Simply put, NHC Cyclo-Therapy is a three dimensional deep tissue massage. The massage effect is different to others on the market as it works in a radiating elliptical movement effect rather than a piston -like hammering motion which can aggravate the muscles and joints often doing more harm than good.

NHC Cyclo-Therapy operates rather like a gyroscope, creating a subtle, soothing, cycloidal (instead of just jarring) vibration. This is achieved by the fact that the multi-directional energy waves are moving north/south, east/west, while also actually rotating on a constant basis. The result? Deep, gentle, relaxing treatment, without any of those conventional side-effect worries.

This unique therapy is designed to promote the flow of blood around the body helping to soothe aching joints and muscles and reducing muscle tension all without the need for drugs, creams or ointments".
 

Having had a demonstration from the company we decided that this is what we want to go for for Andy but unfortunately it comes with a price tag, one that isn't cheap either. 

But, it also comes with the recommendation of Andy's OT in London, who was instrumental in bringing the therapy into the SCI centre in London and then the other SCI centres in the UK. 


So, why the title 'fundraising again'? 


Well............. I want to see Andy free of this chronic pain, I want to see him having better blood flow and oxygenation to his body which will bring benefits to his overall health too. But we can't afford the cost of one of these chairs all by ourselves so we are fundraising, again!


What are we doing?


I, along with our daughter, my twin sister, my dad and my brother-in-law and a family friend are doing the Aspire channel swim challenge. This involves us swimming 22 miles in 12 weeks or 1416 lengths of our local pool in 12 weeks. Or 118 lengths a week! We started in September and have so far completed 13 miles between us.


The aim of the challenge is also to raise money for Aspire as they are a spinal injuries charity that have helped us in the past.


Can I help?


YES, YES AND YES! 

please sponsor us for this challenge. I hadn't swum properly in the 3 years from Andy's operation until September where I then swam 1/2 mile. Katie is 12 and this is also a big challenge for her and my dad is over pension age, we have chosen to do a challenge that will be a challenge. There are days where I don't want to go swimming and I have to force myself to do it but the outcome is what I focus on.


How do I help?


Visit these websites:


www.gofundme.com/blaggy is our ongoing financial support page, all monies donated here will go towards the chair.


www.justgiving.com/team-blagden is my swim challenge page, where all monies will go to Aspire.


Or leave a comment here or on my Facebook page and we can work out a suitable way, such as sending a cheque, if you would prefer.








Birthday present outing.

I don't know if it's because we're getting older, but I'm finding I like buying 'activity' presents rather that 'physical' presents  and they definitely suit Andy really well, so for his birthday last year I bought Andy a stadium tour of Aston Villa football club.

We went on it in October and it was a superb day out. The lady in charge of the tours was really very lovely and helpful, she would show the group where they had to go and then show Andy and his PA's where they needed to go so we could all meet up again. The tour was completely accessible so Andy was able to join in as much as the rest of us and the guide was very knowledgable about Aston villa and the history of the club and how it all works on match day. I'd definitely recommend a stadium tour if you're into football.

It's hard trying to buy presents for someone who has limited to no movement without buying the same thing time and again. An activity gift works well when thought out properly so that Andy can join in as much as everyone else and that is something that I strive to get right all the time.




Me, in the tunnel that the players go down to get onto the pitch.

Andy, me and his PA's at the press conference room

Andy on the pitch.

Andy in the stands.

 Trying on a hat, using a photo as a mirror!!!

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Wedding anniversary christmas present.

For Andy's christmas present I bought, in conjunction with 2 friends who were buying for their other halves too, a wheelchair climb for 'up @ the O2'.

Initially we were offered a date in May but we couldn't find a suitable one between the three couples so we asked the O2 to put us back on the list. We were then offered the 12th September, which also happens to be mine and Andy's wedding anniversary - this year being 18.

The climb started at 10am and we had looked at booking overnight accommodation in London but this presents many problems including needing a hoist, which most hotels don't have, a pressure relieving mattress, which most hotel don't have, a profiling up & down bed, which most hotels also don't have. Plus we would have to have accommodation for the day staff to sleep overnight and the night staff to sleep in the morning. So we decided that we would go up in the morning instead. (These are harsh reminders of our new life and its limitations which I struggle to cope with)

Going up on the morning wasn't easy either, for Andy it was a 4am start and for me it ended up being around 4:30am. We were aiming to leave at 6am to travel to Greenwich for 9:30am. The first hiccup was leaving at 6:20 instead. We made good time until Swindon when we hit traffic from a road accident, we then hit a 2 hour tailback on the M4 and at this point there was no option other than keeping on going. My satnav wanted to take me via central London - crazy, stupid idea!! 
I went the M25 instead and caught up most of our time only to hit more traffic on the M11 into London, but we did eventually get parked up, by mistake in disabled parking at North Greenwich tube station about a 2 minute walk away from where we had to be.

Upon arrival we were suited and booted and taken to the start point. Andy was in a sporty wheelchair that had a trike wheel put on the front of it to allow it to be tipped up, lifting the front wheels. The trike wheel was so tight fitting I did wonder if we were about to stumble at the last hurdle and not achieve our goal of getting up, but with a bit of jiggling of Andy's legs we got it in and then Andy was rigged up and pulleyed up the rubber canvas that we were walking up, that the ITV weather girl had walked up to present the weather report a mere 3 hours previously!

When we got to the top we were unhooked and allowed to move around and get a 360 view of the Greenwich area, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, the Olympic area to name a few. Then we made the descent.

On the ascent Andy had gone first, facing forward and on the descent he came down backwards and last in the line. It felt steeper on the descent than the ascent but we had another excellent view but I don't think Andy did so much!
Once back on the ground we unbooted and unsuited and went and got momentos and then lunch. Then we made the long journey home, stopping for a break along the M40 and worrying when Andy shouted "STOP" on the M25 but apparently he was dreaming!

It was a really good day trip out and I would highly recommend this for anyone but in particular for disabled people as they were so accommodating and helpful, and had the facilities to make it work. the staff who pushed and pulled andy up couldn't of been more helpful, biggest shout out to the guys at #upattheo2




Friday, 23 September 2016

Summer holidays have arrived


So the summer holidays arrived and I must admit I did feel a dread to it. I wasn't sure how we would keep 3 children entertained as well as learning to live as a proper family with a 24/7 care package.

Well, we made it through the summer holidays and have started back at school with no issues. We have had some day trips out as a family, the kids have been busy - Katie especially. And, most importantly, I think we have begun to settle down into our new life.

Some of the activities we got up to as a family or individual components within the family are:

  • Going to a book signing in Milton Keynes of Lauren's favourite 'you-tuber' Tanya Burr
  • Going to the treetop climb at Salcey forest
  • Going for a date night
  • Going to Bristol zoo for an evening opening
  • Going to Symonds Yat butterfly zoo
  • Going to a 'maize maze' in Worcestershire
In amongst these I had work to go to still and the kids had various childcare arrangements, such as staying with either grandparents whilst i was at work. 
Katie went to two camps at the Tom Roberts Adventure Centre, of which Andy is a trustee and my parents manage. Lauren did the catering at the second camp too.
I had a week off work and took Nathan away to Brean Sands, camping for a few days, which he really loved and I enjoyed a couple of days away.

All in all, it was a good summer holidays but i am glad that normal service has resumed:)



























Monday, 29 August 2016

Andy in London. Again.

Andy went up to London the 11th July which was 2 weeks after moving home. He was feeling unsettled by it having only got home and then we were sending him away again! He went up in hospital transport at 7am, infact the London transport were so keen they arrived on Saturday to take him to the hospital๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜†!

The purpose of the visit was to have his chest brace fitted properly. But whilst there he had other things looked into too. He had adjustments made to his chair that help him drive better and he had good sessions with his SALT lady. 
One of his biggest achievements whilst there was being off the ventilator for over 100 hours straight and coping really well with it. This was done with a view to see whether there is any chance of weaning off the ventilator overnight as well as at daytime. The good news is that he is on a reduced nighttime ventilation schedule. The staff in London want Andy to take spirometer readings daily to check his vital capacity and so long as it's over 1.5L each time he can have reduced ventilation. So far so good, and after Andy's done a month of readings or so we will send them to London and they will decide whether to reduce his ventilation hours further. 
In practice this means he is vented from 2-7am. The staff put the vent on at 2am, which doesn't usually interrupt either of us sleep wise, which has meant that we can chat to each other when we want to and settle down when we want to rather than because Andy actually can't speak.

I took the children up to London for the first weekend and we stayed with my friend in Hemel Hempstead again. We had the arrival of our 'Henry' van by then so we were able to go out with Andy in London and then we took our friends out to lunch at a pub in Hemel Hempstead. I collected Andy from London on the following Friday and then we started the whole process of living together again. 

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Settling in.

The first two weeks of Andy being home were really difficult for me, I had underestimated how hard I would find it and had an episode of "throwing my toys out the pram" for the week. I then decided it was a good idea for me to take a couple of weeks off work and get my head round it all.

So why the difficulties, especially as we have the same care team as from the bungalow. Well, for 2 1/2 years it's been me and the kids at home and home was a place where I could step away from Andy's disability, a place where I could be me away from hospitals and residential care settings, a place where I could relax, stop thinking about what was going on all around me, a safe place, my sanctuary, the one thing that hadn't changed.

AND THEN, the builders came and moved in and for a while it's was fine because the house was still intact until I changed the whole plan -almost- and we knocked out walls and doors and then the builders moved indoors to my safe place.

AND THEN, we all decided that the children would have bedroom makeovers as I was moving downstairs eventually, so that involved a huge change around of everyone's rooms and me eventually sleeping in the lounge!

AND THEN, as moving day came nearer Andy's stuff started arriving and I started seeing how much space his stuff would need and how much it would takeover the house.

AND THEN, joyously, Andy moved home and a rolling rota of 14 people moved in with us too. And it all became too much for me. I came home from work to find the house full of people, heating on, like it was the tropics and what appeared to be general chaos. I felt like nothing was mine any more and I didn't have control over my own home anymore, it wasn't my sanctuary  anymore, where I could watch what I wanted on tv and when I wanted as there was Andy to consider now and two staff members who were trying to stay out of our way but ended up in the only free space that was mine. Whilst I was polite and not out and out horrible, I was miserable and obviously stressed out. I took two weeks leave at work to enable me to make the changes I needed to at home and to try and rest and re-group.

It did help me and I gained a bit of perspective etc and then the 2nd week of my leave Andy went to London for 2 weeks! More on that later.

ANDY IS HOME!

ANDY IS HOME (as the title suggests)

Andy has been home for 7 weeks now - 5 proper weeks as he spent 2 weeks in London again.

Andy's OT had booked hospital transport to take him home for 5pm which meant he had to be ready to go from 3pm and he was actually ready to go from midday. Whilst he waited out at the bungalow I was busy preparing the house and putting stuff in places and generally making it ready for him to come home.
I collected Nathan from school, the girls came home from school and then we waited. I'd organised a welcome home party with family members and a group of friends who'd been instrumental in all the aspects of getting us to this point and they started arriving at around 5:30 onwards. And we waited.

Food was cooked and served and sat on the side, and we waited. Eventually we started eating at 7pm as it was getting a bit weird looking at food and waiting for the guest of honour. But we continued waiting.
In the meantime his key-worker rang the transport company to find out what was going on and was on-hold for 45 minutes, and we continued waiting. At about 7:30 we decided to go to Andy's instead to have a welcome home party and as we were all leaving I had a message to say Andy was just getting in the ambulance so we all hurriedly turned back home and waited for a bit more.
Eventually at about 8pm Andy arrived home. A long day for all of us involved but we celebrated nonetheless!

 The girls and their cousins on look-out duty.
 Andy having just arrived home.
 Andy and me and balloons.
Andy with the children

Monday, 27 June 2016

Last night, but NOT of the proms๐Ÿ˜†

So it's my last night at home on my own, parenting/grown-up wise. Tomorrow I shall be inundated with adults!! 
Andy is moving back to the family home and it's been a very long process to get here to this point but we finally have. The last couple weeks have seen an intense burst of decorating by myself and Andy's parents. In fact they spent all of last week decorating various rooms to bring it up to a suitable point and we now only have a few jobs left that can be done with Andy and care team in-situ. I must admit that I'm done in decorating wise but in a few weeks time we'll need to get on it again so that the house doesn't remain unfinished as is the want to do! 

The last couple days have involved a lot of cleaning, putting away, finishing off DIY, trekking down to ikea again and again and putting a monumental amount of cardboard in my trailer ready to recycle. I've become unafraid now of asking for what I want doing, if someone offers, ( side note; don't offer unless you do mean it cos I'll have you doing stuff!!) so I've had a friend running to and from Andy's getting and sorting for me, others painting 'miss coats' or cleaning wet rooms but it has really helped me out and I'm confident tomorrow I will be ready to celebrate Andy's arrival home and start our new family life. By the way, we are starting as we mean to go on so on Andy's first weekend home I'm off to my cousin's wedding about 120 miles away and leaving Andy with the girls and then in July he's hopefully going to London for 1 or 2 weeks as an inpatient again! No rest for the wicked as they say๐Ÿ˜†๐Ÿ˜†


Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Mixed bag of feelings

I thought I'd share some of what I'm feeling now we are counting down the days. Firstly, yes I'm excited. Very excited. Especially when I talk to Andy and realise I can do that whenever I like from next week. 
I'm exhausted, very exhausted. I had to buy fuel today for my works car and I know that I know the PIN number for the card to pay for fuel but when it came to it I couldn't remember the order of the numbers for what felt like eternity. I got it right but I did feel like a right plonka, that's how tired I am and it's hard to get excited when you're so tired.
I'm nervous about sharing my home, our home, with people constantly. And not just the shift staff but the clinical staff that swing by every few days to see how everything's going.
I'm feeling 'precious' about my belongings. I don't want to show people how my new oven, hob, washing machine works. I don't want them using all my equipment. It's not because I don't trust them but when 14 different people have access to your stuff it feels like it's not yours anymore. 
When I was growing up my parents room was mostly off-limits and entering it when they weren't in it felt like an invasion of privacy, and we would never have let friends in their room, ever. I don't have that anymore, we both don't. Andy obviously needs that support but I don't and yet it still is foisted on me. I feel like there is no 'safe' space for me, no where to hide for a few minutes to catch a breath or cry or go on Facebook without anyone around.

My emotions got the better of me at work today and I got upset at something I wouldn't normally get bothered by, I'm a bit like on a knife edge. Wobbling, teetering on the brink. Give it a couple weeks and I'll hit my stride again but in the meantime treat me gently.

Monday, 20 June 2016

More exciting, exciting, exciting!

Andy comes under the care of the local speech and language therapy who liaise with Stanmore in relation to speaking and swallowing. Recently we've had appointments with them to look at Andy's ability to swallow liquid. Andy has been on a 'nil by mouth' regime for about 2 years because he's aspirated on fluids and not known about it and then had chest infections as a consequence, but it's very much been one of his goals to be able to drink safely.

Since being in London and working with his brilliant SALT lady he has improved massively with his eating to a point that it was agreed to do examinations to see what potential there was to start fluids. The study in October at his stay in London showed he was ok and but not safe enough to be allowed liquids at home but he was referred to the local centre for another exam 6 months later. Well that six months came in June and Andy was sent for a videofluroscopy, which is essentially an X-ray whilst he's drinking. It went well and we had the results today, which are that Andy can start drinking albeit in a controlled manner for now. He is allowed no more that 10 sips in one go and 4/5 times a day he can do that. He can only have water for all but one of the sips sessions but that other one he can have what he wants, hurrah hurrah bring on that cider!




This is such a momentous occasion for us, for Andy in particular as these pictures show.

How do you ever recover from being told you will never;

1) Eat again.
2) Speak again.
3) Breathe again.
4) Move again.
5) Drink again.

Well, I never told him 'Never' I told him it'd be harder than we ever thought, but with perseverance from him in trying all the time and a family prepared to fight Andy has proved these statements wrong.
Andy eats almost anything, speaks clearly and for longer and longer, breathes unaided in the daytime, has started to learn to write his name or initial his voting form and feed himself (with support from his staff) and FINALLY has the go-ahead to drink.

None of these are perfect and yet all of it is perfect. I'm so proud of him.



Thursday, 9 June 2016

Exciting exciting exciting!!!!!

So I have a really exciting announcement and that is that Andy is moving home on the 27th June. It'll be 2 years and 10months exactly that Andy walked out the house for his operation, little knowing the devastating and life changing consequences of that. Now he'll be rolling back in with 2 constant companions and far too much equipment to fit in his jeans pockets!! ( he had a motto, probably as most men do, of 'keys, wallet & phone' to leave the house with). 

Despite the devastation and life-changing affects for Andy, and us all, we are all excited at the prospect of Andy moving home and of getting our new vehicle shortly too and finally beginning our 'new normal'

Below are two photos, first one is just before Andy left for the operation and the bottom one is Andy just before returning from the operation.

Andy and children in July 2013, our last holiday before Andy's operation.

 Andy and the children at Tenpin bowling  - June 2016.


Monday, 6 June 2016

Barbara bus time again!

So we had the Barbara bus again for 2 weeks, primarily so I could get Andy over to the Jazz evening, which was a super-duper success by the way- raising about £4000๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ˜€.

I should've written this nearer the time as then I would be able to remember more of what we did together but, hey-Ho! 
We did go to Oldbury Court in Bristol with Nathan. There is a lovely play area and walking areas so we took Nathan in the afternoon, school giving permission for him to have the afternoon off, and had a good play together, ice-cream, wanders through a stream, skimming stones and playing pooh sticks together. It was good to be able to do these things. After getting back into Gloucester Andy came for tea at home and was able to have a good nose around too and also test out that the layout actually works, which it does thankfully!!

We had the Jazz evening on the Friday, Andy got there before me but I was running around doing extra things that I probably shouldn't have tried to do but that's me!
Saturday Andy and I went to a concert at our church which was really good to be able to do together, to be normal together. To hold hands together.
Tuesday Andy had an orthotics appt in London which was to recast the brace. It was nice to be able to be in control of our own transport there and back which made for a better day for Andy. To recast a trunk brace for someone with no movement is an interesting experience for the staff involved though I suspect for Andy it borders on torture. Here's how it's done; Andy was hoisted onto a 'patient trolley', these are thinner than a normal bed - challenge number 1. Then 'pat-slided' across to the trolley for the plastering. He was plastered on his front first, laid on back, then turned over on to his front to plaster the back. It took about 6 of us to turn and I was given the job of holding Andy's head in place for the turn and the duration of the plastering. And being mindful of his trachy too. It turns out heads weigh a LOT and my arms were killing afterwards. Andy was then turned back on to his back, cleaned up, dressed, slid onto to other trolley and then hoisted into his chair. quite the process!
Wednesday involved a wheelchair centre appt which he was ABLE to attend because we had our own transport and didn't have to rely on Arriva transport who have the art of being late down to a tee, in fact the only reason Andy had this appt was because the previous appt was cancelled by Arriva because they were running too late but they failed to tell us they'd cancelled it. The incredibly frustrating thing about this is Andy has to be ready for Arriva 2 HOURS ahead of his appt time as they can collect from that time onwards. Except when they don't! The appt was good and changes were made that should hopefully benefit Andy in learning to control the chair better.

On the Saturday, we went tenpin bowling as a family. The kids were really excited about going and enjoyed the whole time there. They got really good scores but so did Andy and I was pleased with mine too. Andy bowls by using the bowling ramp lined up specially and I held his elbow and he then pushes the ball down. It worked well. The kids had slush puppies to drink and let Andy taste the flavour by putting a drip on his lips. The staff had coffee in the cafe, which gave us family-time together, these moments being precious as they are so hard to sort out otherwise.

Sunday the bus was returned to London in the morning and Nathan and I the. Hung out at battersea park children's zoo before getting the train back to Gloucester where my mum collected us and took us a home.
Hopefully this is the last time I shall need to borrow the bus as we should have our vehicle in the middle of July. I shall miss doing things in London as a result of going up to collect it but I shan't miss the actual driving up/ train,or bussing up to collect/return it though.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Jazz evening auction items

During the evening there will be an auction and here is a list of items that'll be available to bid on; 

Week's holiday accom in luxury 3 bedroomed villa in Lanzarote 
Gloucester Rugby tickets (2) for a match of choice next season
Cheltenham Football tickets (2) for a match next season
Snooker Cue in box signed by 22 championship players 
Slow Cooker 3.2 litre size (Sainsburys)
2 canvas mounted photos of Cotswold scenes 120x80cm
10 beauty items from Boots (Lancome perfume 'Tresor In Love')
De luxe shellac pedicure (Fusion Hairdresser Cheltenham)
Family Leisure Weekend pass (Hallmark Hotel, Glos)
Hamper (M&S)


Jazz evening fundraiser.

This is a really good evening, it was a huge success two years ago and I'm hopeful it will be the same this year. Please do come along if you can as it'll be a good evening out and will also help us with getting Andy home. 

#letsgetandyhome 

Saturday, 30 April 2016

MOT time for Andy.

Because Andy was rehabbed at the London spinal cord injury centre at Stanmore he is a patient for life there now and gets given a review bi-annually (currently, though it may go to annually in the future). 

On Thursday it was time for this review, which starts at 12:30, which is a considerate time for someone with his type of injury though he has 2 hour travel time which means leaving at 10am allowing for traffic but this means Andy starting his personal care at 7am ish. I do feel a bit bad because I can kinda swan around if I wanted though I didn't have the luxury of this as there were issues with the kitchen that I needed to sort out as well as the school run and washing to hang out. In fact I ended up leaving later than I wanted too and I didn't have to go through what Andy does!!

Andy arrived on time in London and started off with a medical chat with his consultant's registrar and the liaison nurse, essentially its like an MOT but for humans!
Then a visit with the psychologist, physiotherapist and occupational therapist. Then another quick stop with the liaison nurse and reintegration manager before finishing at 4pm and then phoning for transport to come pick Andy up. 
Transport arrived at 16:10pm, impressed and relieved for Andy. Andy didn't get home until 19:15 and promptly went to bed, chiefly to get out of the wheelchair. 

One of the best things to come out the review is being able to ask for a ring-fenced bed for Andy again for him to focus on some goals. This would include ensuring his orthotic brace fits properly once it's been re-cast, potentially looking at whether Andy can swallow liquids safely ( in conjunction with our local hospital doing a videofluoroscopy & FEES and giving it to London SALT to study) and training staff to support Andy to use a hydro pool - our friends have a hydrotherapy pool that is for medical purposes for their children and it's set up to enable Andy to be able to use it too, which is something our friends are keen to see happen.

Whenever we go up to London for appointments I always feel safe there, it's somewhere where I know that they have Andy's best interests at heart, it's where I know that we can ask to try things and nobody will say a flat-out 'no' but would see how we could try it out whilst keeping Andy safe. I'm forever grateful for Stanmore and for what they have done for Andy and In turn what they have done for our family.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Practical joker.



One day last week Andy's nurse manager came by with a CPR training mannequin specifically for people with a tracheostomy. It is used for training support workers in the complex care of a person requiring a ventilator and everything that goes with it. This mannequin is a full sized male adult that has been called Mork but apparently can also be turned into 'Mindy!'

Anyway, when we arrived to see Andy he was sat in the kitchen in his manual chair, which I was annoyed about, but the kids hadn't noticed and went straight in to talk to him, except 'him' turned out to be mannequin Mork dressed up exactly as Andy would be and Andy was waiting in the lounge, in on the joke as much as the staff!

Kรกtie's reaction was by far the funniest as she jumped out of her skin with fright as she was trying to tell her dad something! 

It turned out that Andy, his key-worker and nurse had been pranking the staff for a couple days, telling them Andy had a friend staying overnight or that he wasn't feeling well and had been in bed all day. It worked a treat and most staff were quite freaked by Mork and we all had a good laugh!
I like the fact the company have a sense of humour! 


Andy/ Mork.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Birthday weekend!!


The weekend of the fundraiser I had booked myself, the kids and a friend and her daughter for a weekend away at Burnham on Sea which is about an hours drive away. We went down Friday late afternoon and came back Saturday for the concert and to see Andy for my birthday too and then went back down Saturday night. 
After the choir, we had lunch in town, which was interesting with 8 people in the group at 1pm on a Saturday in town. It was accompanied by the usual stares that someone in a wheelchair seems to have to get accustomed to, but I hadn't noticed, partly because my back was turned on the group but also because I'm not all that observant anyway, thankfully:) It didn't seem to put Andy off being in town, I suspect he has really broad shoulders - he lives by the saying 'easy to please, hard to offend'

After lunch we went and watched a friend playing water-polo for Cheltenham Town at the leisure centre, with ringside seats and then went back to Andy's for presents before we headed back down to Burnham. It was a really lovely day, very special.

On the Sunday Andy came down to Burnham and we went to the beach and got Andy on to the seawall. We nearly got him on the beach but got scuppered by the dusty sand but in the future a couple of good sized bits of cardboard placed on the sand would get him on. It was actually very exciting to find a really accessible section of the coast whereby we could get Andy close to the action and not have him as a bystander on the pavement just watching. Admittedly it wasn't as close as i'd like but I know what to do if and when we go there again. We had fish and chips on the seawall and afterwards we went and played on the 2p machines, which is Andy's favourite pastime, he's certainly very good at it. 

I said to the staff "i'll call you when we need you" and let them go and sit down somewhere as it's a bit weird to have 2 people traipsing after you and for them also it's a bit weird following someone around, a bit stalker-ish. I don't know where they went but when i phoned they were nearby and we all just meet up again. it's becoming a good arrangement, in that we get family time together and the staff know that I know what I'm looking for to keep Andy safe and they get to be able to do their job, which is enabling Andy to live as independent life as possible, whilst keeping him safe from harm. The kids are also brilliant with looking out for him for example Nathan knows his dad has to speak after every mouthful and you can hear him saying to Andy "say something please" or asking if he needs a suction or any help, and then he goes and gets help or just hollers for a staff member!

Andy went home about 5:30pm, getting in around 7pm and very exhausted i think. The following week though he ended up on antibiotics for an infection so we must have over-done it. The fault lays squarely at my door though because whenever I get the van from London I just want to get the most out of it and end up doing loads and loads so once we get our own van that will solve itself  hopefully because then i'll know we can go out whenever........... but equally I might end up wanting to be out too often because we have our own transport.............hmmm


Fundraiser pictures.


Pictures from the choir performance!


Sunday, 3 April 2016

Rock choir fundraiser

So we had the fundraiser that was mentioned in the previous post and it was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!
The choir sang beautifully,

There were lots of people around and, in particular, there were lots of people who stayed to watch, 

There was lots of support from friends and family who came to watch but also to help distribute leaflets and hold the money buckets.

And the best bit, of course, was having Andy there! 

The choir sang for 45 minutes it's a few solo performances, one being from our good friend Val who'd organised the performance. She sang her solo just as Andy arrived so she did say she was a bit more nervous then but she did well though! 
As Val knew it was mine and my sister's birthday she must have said something to the choirmaster as the choir sang 'Happy Birthday' to us, which was exciting, that's the 2nd time I've had a choir sing for my birthday as two years ago Andy organised, with my sister, a birthday choir performance in the hospital chapel whilst he was still being cared for in ICU, and whilst he was fully vented and couldn't talk! 
After they had finished and Val was wrapping it up, Andy said 'thank you' to the gathered crowd which made me so proud of him for being willing to do it and to be so confident whilst doing so.

The icing on the cake was that we raised over £700!


Monday, 14 March 2016

Fundraising.

 As I've just posted about a fundraiser I thought I'd give a little bit of info as to what the money is needed for.

I think I've posted previously about how we are getting the money to build our extension but in case I  haven't; basically we are selling some property we invested into that was supposed to be our pension plan. We didn't qualify for a disabled facilities grant because of having assets. The money raised from doing this though isn't enough to complete a build that has a 'quality-of-life' about it so we've had to fundraise as well. That isn't meant to sound like it's been an onerous task as people want to be generous and give anyway but sometimes when you're giving it's nice to be getting too and fundraising events such as the choir performance are excellent ways of doing this.

SO WHAT IS THE MONEY GOING TOWARDS?

In no particular order:

New beds - this is a major one because Andy can only use specialised beds now which the ccg provide for him but not taking into account his marital status, therefore I would have my own single bed but it wouldn't allow me to see or speak to him once we were in bed. After 30 months of not doing this already I really want to put an end to that. It also has good clinical reasons as I can see him and know if he needs help, very important when he's on the ventilator and cannot speak.

New bedroom furniture - having just trashed our old lot we need new stuff anyway but it also now has to be more suited to Andy's abilities so that he can see what clothing is available and have the autonomy over what he wears. It also needs to be able to hold enough medical equipment to look after him for a two day period, ( the rest being stored elsewhere) as well as our personal effects and 'stuff' and be organised in such a way that our privacy isn't invaded as we will have staff in and out of our own private area.

Garden landscaping - this is more than prettying up our garden, this is about making it suitable for Andy to get into the garden from the back of the house and not just for pleasure but also because it's his main fire escape route. This is likely to be sloped decking but I don't know at the moment.

Driveway - needs to be able to take my car, Andy's van and 2 staff cars. And to be able to move these cars around without having to make every car move every time!! It also needs to be wheelchair friendly so Andy can mobilise safely.

Appliances - having a new kitchen designed with Andy's needs and abilities in mind means we need new kitchen appliances, such as an integrated fridge freezer,  built-in oven, separate hob and a tumble dryer.

All of this will mean Andy's return home will give him and us a future to look forward to, even if it's different to what we'd planned. It's always been about that and I will fight hard to ensure it remains about that.
At the beginning of the process, when I was talking to an OT and DFG lady I was made to feel that so long as Andy had a room stuck on the back of the house, with no regard to the knock-on effect of loosing family access to the garden (kids would've had to walk through his bedroom to get to the garden or out the front door and round the side) then that was a job well done. When I told her I planned to share that room with him she was gobsmacked. 

I was offended, massively offended. 

I was then determined to make sure that was never the case and having had to fight for Andy's space at the spinal cord injury centre she didn't stand a chance. Now, our desire to be reunited again is becoming a reality. Sadly, it's costing thousands and thousands but thanks to the generosity of everyone those above mentioned items are also looking to be a reality. 
Yes, I'm looking forward to having a new home, new kitchen, new family space, new bedroom but I'd MUCH MUCH MUCH rather have my husband whom I married, my husband whom I'd planned on doing things with as we got older, my husband with a fully working body. My Andy. 

FUNDRAISER FOR ANDY.

Something I'm really excited about is a fundraiser that's happening locally to us on Saturday 19th March, for two reasons: 

One is that it's my birthday that day!
The other is that Andy can come to it too!
And the third one is people's generosity in giving up time to raise money for Andy.

Hopefully you can see all the details on the picture below but if you need me info then please comment  below and I'll respond.


Ongoing decorating chaos!

In the picture in part 1 you can see the cousins decorating Katie's room, well we got Nathan's room done and it looks lush except for the bit where he's tried to self-decorate with coffee stirrers and cotton buds stuck on the wallpaper with sellotape, so now I have to go get a sample of said wallpaper and repair it, because I have nothing else to do of course!

Anyway he is enjoying his room and so we made a good start on Katie's room and that is almost finished, thanks to the in-laws for doing probably the majority of the work! Carpet goes down shortly and then I will be flat-packing again, making a high sleeper bed for Katie and then the finishing touches.

I had a friend come over to help me move the wardrobes out and downstairs ready for a charity to collect but when we were getting them out the bedroom it was evident they weren't going to make it downstairs intact so we bashed them up a bit and then I spent a large chunk of time breaking it into component parts ready for recycling at the household recycling centre ( not the tip these days!) along with two chests of drawers and two bedside tables and our marital bed- this was our bedroom furniture when we moved into our house, kindly left by the seller to us (the bed was ours that we chose together). Sad times, but onwards and upwards!

When you start decorating you see so much that needs doing on top of what you'd planned to do but most of that is stuff that can be done at 'leisure' and now Lauren is in my old room the kids now have a room each and I have the lounge on a put-u-up bed. It's actually comfy but I share it with my mum as she uses it when she babysits overnight to allow me to get to work for 8am, so on a Monday and Tuesday night I shall be bunking in with my mum in the lounge for the foreseeable!! (Hopefully borrowing a bed for myself, lol)

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Decorating chaos, part 1

Well, it's all change at home now! The building is well under way now with the corner rafters going up yesterday and gable ending being done, decisions being made over kitchen design, flooring being decided, tiles starting to be thought about and colour schemes being mulled over. 

In the process of all these decision the kids are having their own decisions to make as they are all having bedroom makeovers. We live in 3 bed semi and before we had Nathan the girls used to share and we had an office, once we had Nathan, and Lauren was 10, we decided that the girls needed splitting up and Nathan would eventually move out our room. So Lauren had a room of her own (the office) and Nathan and Katie shared a room with bunks, since he was 2. Now we are having a new bedroom and the kids can all have their own room. Nathan and Lauren are moving rooms and all 3 are being redecorated.
This, I've decided, needs to be done before downstairs gets knocked through. My reasons for this are because I believe that no matter how adjusted we are to the care team at Andy's bungalow, they are still not a part of our everyday life at home and when that becomes reality it has a potential to be quite tricky. So I thought if the kids have a room of their own, decorated, made how they want it to be so its their own domain they will have somewhere 'safe' to go when they are fed up of being downstairs. 
BUT this has caused chaos for me, my room has Lauren's stuff in it in boxes now and is also the dumping ground for everything out of Katie's room whilst we completely gut the rooms out and, essentially, start again.
BUT, with the help of all my family and good friends we have now completed Nathan's room and are getting ready to complete Katie's room with only the finishing touches for both of them to be done. To say I was excited yesterday was an understatement. I couldn't stop beaming from ear to ear. Also it was like poetry in motion watching (and participating) everyone getting on with what needed doing. The in-laws, my sis and BIL and our friends were all stripping wallpaper, polyfilling, taking furniture down, sanding down etc whilst my mum was doing the ever-so-important job of keeping people topped up with tea or coffee, biscuits and sandwiches. It turned out this job was an almost constant round of making drinks, collecting cups, washing up and then making tea again - she did a sterling job! She then also took Nathan out to buy curtains and then installed them too.
Nathan's room looks so good, I'm so pleased with how it turned out and how we all pulled together for a common cause. And most importantly, we have a very happy little boy who, for the first time in his young life, has a room of his own.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Andy in the Kitchen!





Andy has various therapies daily to either maintain him or to push him onwards. His key worker decided that she would try him with holding things in his hand so he can practise gripping. So he was supported to hold a kitchen knife and chop vegetables for a dinner date we were having.
As it turned out he is able to grip the knife and put enough pressure through his wrist to chop vegetables and then to pick them up and put them into the saucepan.
He is also able to pick up finger foods and get them in his mouth, though this isn't accurate yet and so he ends up with more food given to allow for any losses - of course if he doesn't drop any he gets more food!!
Its very exciting to see these improvements not only because it defies what was told to us in the earlier, harrowing days but also because it gives Andy more purpose, a sense of achievement, of completing something useful, for himself as well as for the family.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

A NEW BLOG!

I have started a new blog where I can detail what's going on with the extension and in a separate place to this blog so that its easier to view. Its called 'lets get Andy home' and the address is

www.letsgetandyhome.blogspot.co.uk

I'm hoping to get it shortened to be a bit snappier than it currently is but in the meantime you can look over to the right and find the link for it and click on that instead.
I hope it's a good place to visit and it gives you a sense of what's being achieved as it's down to you guys and your generous financial support that we've got where we've got to so far.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Birthday celebrations!

Andy's birthday is 2 days after christmas and each year I've tried to make sure his birthday is celebrated separate to christmas because, after all, most peoples are but thats not to say it's not difficult to know what to get him for christmas and then for his birthday.

The last 2 birthdays have also been spent in hospital (2013/14) so this year, in itself, was already good and made better by being together. So I spent a bit of time thinking about it and then remembered a comment from a friend/work colleague about cooking a romantic meal for us when the time was appropriate so, hoping that she'd remembered too, I asked her if I could make good her offer and she said 'yes' so that was one present sorted. I told Andy it would be really, really good food and did he remember when i'd come home from work raving about the lunch meal we'd had and he nodded and said he did so he's looking forward to that, as am I!!

Something else I got him was inspired by my sister's present for our Dad. A stadium tour of his football team!. He also got a cinema gift card off his brother for his birthday and we got one of my sister and BIL for christmas too!
 His presents were a bit more activity based as they sometimes suit him better, some activities are just as 'join-in-able' for him as they are for me, apart from a chocolate tasting session in which case I don't think id be invited, haha! I also like presents that happen in the future as its something to look forward to and we can celebrate his birthday again!

In the afternoon we had a meal booked at a restaurant courtesy of a friend who had organised it. I hadn't told Andy about it as i wanted to surprise him and when we got there first he did question why we needed such a big table!.
It was lovely to be back together in our usual Sunday group and after the meal we headed back to our friends house for pudding. He hasn't been there for 2 years, since the operation, so that was good too and we got a chance to look at the foundations for their hydro pool that they've since had installed and one day, hopefully, Andy will be able to join in the benefits of that pool. These are the friends whose children did the epic swim fundraiser for Andy on the 21st December that raised around £800 towards the building fund. Please take a look at their blog and also their gofundme page for the swimathon.

www.jtandht.blogspot.com
www.gofundme.com/blags-swimathon

After that I took Andy back to his bungalow, did a whirlwind turnaround of dropping kids off home and sorting them ready for the babysitter and then went out again with Andy to see Star Wars. We went into one of the access boxes at Cineworld, which are lovely. They are at the very back of the auditorium and feel a bit like a box at the theatre. They are accessed via a private entrance which requires cinema staff to escort you and no one can see you but you can see everything which is perfect for us. Usually a trip to the cinema coincides with medications needing to be given so this offers privacy for Andy and space for the staff so works all-round.

A good birthday!!

The birthday meal.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

CHRISTMAS part 2

Christmas was wonderful. 
Being together was wonderful. 
My mum's christmas dinner was wonderful.

It was so very precious to be a family again. 
To be able to talk to him in bed,
To be able to talk to him in the instant I think about what I want to say no matter how silly or banal. For Andy to see his children open their presents in the morning and throughout the day. 
For the kids to be able to see their dad when they wanted to,
To not have disability as obvious as it usually is.

It was a busy Christmas day; we had stocking presents opening, we went to my parents church in the morning, we came back and had a light lunch followed by more presents, followed by Christmas dinner, followed by the remaining presents, followed by games, putting children to bed who didn't want to go to bed and the Downton Abbey finale episode. Well, Andy didn't watch it. By that point he was tired and was quite happy to go to bed whilst I watched it with my parents and sister. 

Boxing day was spent mooching around in the morning and then taking 4 kids for some fresh air  around Newent Lake with my sister and dad. Andy spent the day in bed, quite worn out from all the activities of the previous few days. I was quite happy for him to take a rest day as the next day was his birthday and I had plans.............. well we did have a vehicle after all!!






CHRISTMAS part 1

Christmas has always been an exciting time for us and I've never found it difficult to organise/sort-out/deal with until 2013. That Christmas Andy was in ICU, unable to eat or talk to us. I was really quite anxious that year and found it very stressful especially as the kids hadn't lost any enthusiasm for Christmas and yet I had none. I was back at work doing 24 hours/week and due to work Christmas Eve and Boxing day - 12 hour shifts each day. I was highly aware of needing to be there for Andy but also of the setting he was in as well as the children's need to have Christmas as usual.
We did Christmas day and it was amazing, all the family came through at some point and we created a 'present' mess all over his bay. I was exhausted and Andy was exhausted and slept all evening which had been my intention - to enjoy Christmas with him but knacker him out so he didn't and couldn't dwell on us going somewhere for dinner and festivities without him.

The following year, 2014, Andy was in Stanmore, breathing unaided for a few hours, able to talk a bit and eating a few spoonfuls. We'd been out to a shopping mall and bought Christmas presents together. The children and I had made arrangements to stay up in London or Hemel due to our wonderful friends and my cousin who have been so good to put me up most weekends for 6 months and we were able to spend most of the day with Andy in the hospital. Christmas dinner though turned out to be appalling for us all as somehow all the vegetables and potatoes and little extras associated with Christmas dinner were missing and we ended up with chicken instead, but it was excellent as we were altogether and the future was looking far brighter than the previous year.

So, Christmas 2015 was always going to be much better. I had quite a lot of festive feeling this year and even participated in decorating the house and Andy's bungalow too. My sticking point though was I didn't want Christmas in the bungalow as it's not spacey once we are a family in it and I didn't want to spend all day together cooped up in the bungalow, unable to have space, either from each other or the care staff, or to cook anything decent. It was beginning to make me feel claustrophobic at the thought of it!
It sounds a bit like it's all about what I wanted but it was also about what Andy wanted and what we felt the children deserved but it does come down to me to take the lead and sort it. I put the idea to Andy about having Christmas at my parents place, the adventure centre, with all its space and excellent kitchen facilities and he agreed, as did my parents obviously, that that would be brilliant, so, to cut a long story short, we got funding for Andy to have the essential equipment he needs hired to the farm for a few days and I organised with the care team where we were going to be and they sorted that out with the staff and so it was that we were able to go over to the farm for Christmas.

I must acknowledge the excellent work of some more good friends in the work they did for me to make my desire come true but that turned out not to be needed, it really shows the care and respect for Andy to give up a good part of their day to do something for me knowing it might not be needed in the end so THANK YOU to you guys for that.


Road trip with my sister, niece, nephew, daughter and friend!

I've blogged on here before about going up to London to collect a vehicle from the Barbara bus charity (see link on rhs) so that we can go out and about as a family, although this still involves Andy in one car and me & kids in another car or some other formula as the 'Charlotte' bus only seats 4 + wheelchair and we go out as 6 + wheelchair.

So I booked the bus with the charity but unfortunately someone else had it booked out on the 21st December so I couldn't take it on the 18th December after Andy's appt. (see previous post) and had to go up on the 22nd instead. My quandary then was when would I collect it as my week was getting increasingly hectic with work, other commitments and moving us all over to the farm on Christmas Eve for the Christmas weekend and getting up to London by myself so I could drive it back.

My solution came in the form of my lovely twin sister who drove me up to London with her 2 children and my Katie after my shift at work. We, surprisingly, made good time and arrived in London about 7pm after leaving Tewkesbury at 4:30pm. We arrived at Andy's at 10pm to drop the van there whereby an equally wonderful friend, Claire, drove me, in the wind and lashing rain, back to Tewkesbury to pick up my car and eventually go home for around 11pm.
I did wonder if getting the van was worth it and had debated not getting it at all because another equally wonderful friend had offered to take and collect Andy to and from the farm and I was feeling quite exhausted (in-fact a friend today commented that I looked a lot better today than before Christmas!!)
Anyway, my doubts were wiped away when on Wednesday 23rd we all went over to Andy's parents house for lunch,  Andy hasn't been to his parents house since before the operation so his parents were really pleased to have him there as well,  then shopping in Cheltenham to get the children some clothes, which is a tradition Andy had started a few years ago. It was a lovely day and the kids enjoyed spending our money and time with their dad doing something they'd wanted to do and it made me so very much at peace with having made the trip up to London to collect it. And the ensuing trip back to drop it off!!

Saturday, 2 January 2016

London calling yet again

Andy went up to London again at the end of November for an MRI scan of his spine as his spine/tumour care is being taken over by the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital. They have 2 sites, one in Stanmore and one in central London. This had been discussed in his October stay with his consultant but unfortunately the machine had broken at the time so he was booked in for an 11:30am scan in London. I asked the spinal unit if he could stay overnight which they agreed he could providing his staff came too. The trouble is whilst they might agree he can stay the CCG (clinical commissioning group) have to agree to fund the staff going up to stay with Andy. This includes travel cost and hotels for the staff as he has 4 over a 24hr period although quite possibly includes the cost of the bed too as I don't imagine London would pay that cost, but i don't know. Anyway the CCG agreed to it which meant that Andy could travel up Sunday and be ready for the scan Monday.
The scan was scheduled for 11:30 but didn't happen until 12:30 as they couldn't get the contrast in Andy and so had to do it through an iv in the end. This pushed everything back and meant Andy didn't leave for home until 5pm, getting home at 8pm. A long day for all involved.

And then back up again to central London on the 18th for the results.

I went with Andy for the results and to meet the consultant, but decided to go up the night before and stay with my friend in Hemel Hempstead, who also helped me wrap the christmas presents I brought with me because I had no other hiding place, and then I drove to my cousin's to park my car  friday morning as she is on the tubeline and did some christmas shopping whilst awaiting his arrival in London. It was good fun going shopping although I must admit my tolerance of shopping has shrunk somewhat these last 2 years so was glad of the call to say he'd arrived.
The results were that there is fluid around the operation site that needs to be kept an eye on which they will do in London and hopefully as we go up to the spinal unit for check-ups they will also check him out then too. Andy left about 4pm and got home around 7pm and i moseyed around IKEA in wembley before driving home, getting home around 9pm but having got christmas presents wrapped and other presents bought.

Westonbirt Arboretum

First things first, I shall apologise for being really tardy of late and not updating the blog but this is because we've been busy. Very busy! So busy in-fact i've had to go onto Facebook to try to remember everything - LOL.


So, apart from living everyday life: school, work, seeing Andy, shopping etc etc the first thing of note is that we went to Westonbirt arboretum's Enchanting Christmas. We went with the charity that took us on a trip to Bletchley park that I realise I completely failed to blog about but which was epic.

So, the charity is called Egalite Absolue (www.egaliteabsolue.org.uk)which means absolute equality and they run a 'jumbulance' which, in their case, is a converted coach designed to take wheelchair and non-wheelchair users alike on day trips that they wouldn't otherwise be able to do. Anyway to cut a long story short Andy's parents had put us in touch with the charity which was organising a trip to Bletchley Park which all 5 of us plus Andy's PA's attended together in the same vehicle. The weather was atrocious which kinda put a dampner on Andy as he got cold (had he done as I said he wouldn't have got cold but that's another story........) but we enjoyed the trip anyway. I in particular enjoyed the trip, having enjoyed the film "The imitation game" immensely.
So, getting back to Westonbirt, I suggested to the charity a trip out to the enchanted christmas would be a good one to do so they came and picked the 7 of us up plus my parents (nd a couple of others)and we all rode down to Westonbirt. Again it was lovely to travel together and to do an activity as a family together, We looked at all the exhibits and afterwards ate chips and hot dogs whilst listening to christmas carols being sung and made sparkly pine cones for the christmas tree!!


The Jumbulance in action.
Westonbirt highlights.