A Christmas of hospitals, accidents, illness and fustration.

Funerals are not happy affairs at the best of times (if there is such a thing) and it was with sadness that on the 19th Dec. I along with a churchful of friends attended the funeral of Eddie Gregory. He was a fellow Market Harborough rugby player who lost his battle with cancer. Eddie was big in stature and big in heart, with an infectious smile and though we never played with or against each other on the pitch, what I knew of the gentleman commanded my respect and presence at a celebration of his life.

The rest of the day didn’t go without incident. Upon returning from the funeral I was annoyed that the electric garage door wouldn’t open, on further investigation, I discovered that there was no power to the garage or part of the house. Attempting to reset the RCD system failed and it kept tripping out.  The system eventually reset after unplugging all appliances, it was then a matter of connecting everything back on, one at a time until I found the offender. Confusingly, with everything plugged in the system didn’t trip out. Half an hour later, the power went off again, but after unplugging and reconnecting, the system remained powerless. As the garage door didn’t work, when Sue later returned from visiting a friend I had to manually lift it, it was then that I got a slight shock from the mechanism. Using my circuit tester, I discovered that the garage’s fridge and most other metal objects were carrying a small current. Somewhere the electricity supply was earthing. Luckily, we have a maintenance policy which covers such problems, I called the company and they informed me that they were very busy and it could be up to five days before an electrician could come out.

The following day Sue drove to the cinema in Corby to watch the film ‘Matilda‘, disappointingly I couldn’t go with her as I had to wait in, just in case an electrician made an appearance. I was very surprised when she returned just an hour later, it appears that the cinema had developed an electrical fault, causing a small fire. Sue arrived at the same time as the fire service, to find a queue of moviegoers with drinks and popcorn in hand, calmly filing out.

The day before Christmas Eve, I kept my appointment with the doctor and came away with painkillers and a referral for an x-ray of my poorly foot. During the afternoon Jamie called in briefly with Ruth after having the cast on his broken wrist removed at Kettering Hospital. Soon afterwards an electrician arrived to solve our garage electrical problem but it proved beyond him. When putting the circuits on test he discovered that the earth was live, indicating a fault in either the cabling or one of the sockets. After further investigation failed to find the cause, and he left after isolating the garage from the power supply. I ran an extension cable from the house to power the fridge and freezer to prevent them from defrosting.

That very same evening at around 11 pm I received a phone call from Lee informing us that Sarah was in Nuneaton Hospital. We knew that she hadn’t been feeling well with sinusitis but the pain in her face had become severe and pre-eclampsia had been suspected. After checking her out she was eventually released home in the early hours of the morning with antibiotics to be given a further appointment for 9 am at Hinckley Hospital at which the doctor issued her a prescription for eardrops to relieve the pain. Thankfully pre-eclampsia was discounted as a cause.

Late morning on Christmas Eve, armed with antibiotics and painkillers a poorly Sarah and her family arrived to drop off Mia before meeting up with Charlotte and her family at the Black Horse in Foxton for lunch. Earlier Suraj had brought a variety of pizzas that had been specially made to order at Asda for a family snack later that evening. Jamie, Ruth and Joey had their Christmas Eve lunch with Ruth’s parents in Waltham on the Wold, they had driven from their home in France to spend some family time over the festive period. Afterwards, they left her parents to look after their dogs while they drove to Harborough to have tea at a friend’s, they arrived at Willow Bank around 7 pm and just in time to join in with party games organised by Charlotte and Sarah. This was Alice’s first Christmas when she could fully join in the Yule Tide experience, it is now old hat to the other children and I could see that some of the magic has worn off with age. They will have to wait until they are older still before they again delight in the wonder of the occasion through their own children’s eyes.

Thankfully Santa arrived overnight, distributing a large pile of presents under the festively decorated tree in the lounge.  This modern celebration of Christmas has certainly become the property of the youngest in the family as judged by the disproportionate distribution of gifts which seems to be in direct conflict with a person’s age!

As is traditional, Christmas Day began early with discovering what lay under the tree before returning to bedrooms to discover what goodies lay inside socks.

After breakfast made by Lee and consumed by the family, it was time to get down to the serious business of opening presents. This year’s principal distributing elves were Ellis and Joey with occasional support from Alice.  There seemed very little debris from discarded wrappings and boxes, for once, the receivers of gifts kept pace with deliveries and managed to deposit the shrapnel of Christmas into one of the several bin bags deposited around the room.

The head chef for dinner was Charlotte, ably supported by several glasses of Bailey’s and occasionally advised by the elder members of the family.  With twelve to be seated in the dining room, I was expecting it to be a bit squashed but even with two large dogs lying on the carpet (staying close to the source of food), movement in and out of the room proved to be no problem. Dinner was excellent, all the expected trimmings were on offer, it was a banquet of a feast, so I guess we can’t really blame Harry, who like Mia had waited patiently without reward for dropped or passed down titbits when he quietly took himself into the kitchen and using his height to access a plate of turkey offcuts manage to snaffle a mouthful before being caught by a suspicious Suraj. ☺☺☺

It was during clearing up that calamity occurred. Sue was washing the crockery in the sink and Ruth was drying when Sue slit open her wrist on the broken edge of a ceramic lid, it was a wide and very deep laceration, it needed suturing. We had run out of steri-wound closure strips many years ago, I hadn’t thought to replace them as our children had all left home and I thought were unlikely to need any. Fashioning a couple of strips from an ordinary plaster and closing the wound I bandaged it up. Sue was in a bad way and was suffering from shock. Suraj was the only one of us sober enough to drive. Trying the local hospital first we were instructed to go to Kettering Hospital.

Despite it being Christmas Day, there being a nurse’s strike and a waiting room full of patients, as soon as we entered A&E with Sue in a wheelchair, a nurse whisked Sue into an assessment room and while Suraj parked the car I gave reception the history of what had happened and Sue’s medical details. Next, she was taken to see what I gauged was a paramedic and shortly after was ‘glued up’ and re-bandaged. We were back home in less than two hours, in time for tea. Sue was feeling much better and, to my surprise, ate very well despite her recent shock.

That evening we said farewell to Sarah and her family, traditionally they celebrate Lee’s Boxing Day birthday with his parents. Shortly after, Jamie, Ruth and Joey also left to return home. Very early on Boxing Day, Jamie and Ruth flew to Budapest for a few days of R&R.

It was on Boxing Day that I began to feel ill and just before Charlotte and family left us I took to my bed with rampant diarrhoea, aches and a temperature. The following morning, Sue came down with it. It was New Year’s Eve before I left my bed and spent the day downstairs, clutching a hot water bottle. Being a day behind in first feeling ill, Sue joined me the day after. Both feeling washed out, aching and with streaming noses, we attempted to get on with life (albeit with lots of rest) and made it to an early bedtime. We consider we had a double whammy of Norovirus and Flu.

Lying prone for so many hours listening to the uncomfortable sound of emptying internal ducting gives the mind plenty of opportunities to wander and cogitate on all matters of things. My mind kept returning to an occasion when after stupidly exposing ourselves to the infamous ‘ Delhi Belly‘ from a bicycled drinks vendor in Jaipur, I later that evening left my hotel bed in delirium to argue with the  Reception staff that everyone I knew in the world and this hotel was ill and dying, and what are they going to do about it. I remember nothing about what subsequently occurred, but I assume I was ushered to our room where later we must have been visited by a doctor as on awakening we had pills and medication to take. Somehow, we managed to finish our trip to the vast subcontinent of India and return alive to the UK health service where we began a year of medication to rid our bodies of recycled Asian bugs and toxins.

During my appointment with the doctor on Christmas Eve I was referred for an x-ray. I was advised to call the department on the 28th Dec. and arrange an appointment, however, I was too ill and didn’t all until I felt better on the 2nd Jan. I had an x-ray on my foot and ankle the following day. A few days later I received a text inviting me to arrange physiotherapy and/or an operation. On a brighter note, Sue seems to have nearly recovered, though still feeling drained she has managed to get out and about shopping and with a little help from myself take down the Christmas decorations. Yule’s ttide’sillness was not just limited to Sue and I, Charlotte, Ellis and Lee’s mother Diane also succumbed to the bug. This is one festive season I shall be pleased to see the back of!

Ellis officially becoming an Air Cadet

On a wet Sunday afternoon on the 8th of Jan. Sue and I paid a visit to the Rothwells. It was the first time I had left the house since Christmas Eve and though still not feeling 100% it was a welcome change of environment and gave us an opportunity to see the fruits of their decorating. Though not quite finished, the rooms looked tastefully furnished, modern, and pleasing to the eye. A couple of days later, we travelled to see Jamie in Waltham n the Wolds on an even wetter day. Ruth was at work and Joey was at school, so we thought we would provide him with some company during his enforced isolation. He had seen the surgeon a few days earlier in Leicester and had been warned not to strain his back with any physical activity for at least the next eight weeks. We had decided to have lunch in one of the local pubs, unfortunately, the village pub shut on Tuesdays, then finding that the one in the next village had shut for ‘much needed R&R’, we drove on to the next village only to find it open but effectively closed as there was an ongoing ‘Wake’ and wouldn’t be serving food for another 1.5 hours. Moving on, we eventually found a hostelry on the outskirts of Grantham that served food. Stomachs full, we briefly returned Jamie home, stopping only for a quick coffee before  driving home to Harborough

On the third visit by an electrician, the garage and house’s earthing fault was eventually fixed. I first reported the fault on the 23rd of December and it has taken until the 11th of January to solve the problem. During that time the garage doors have been inoperable and the fridge and freezer have been supplied with power from a very long extension lead fr0m the far side of the house. The fault originated from a nail in the wall of the study which had held a picture in place for at least the last eight years. It had shorted the neutral and earth leads on a ring circuit.

News in the UK has been dominated by Prince Harry and the publication of his book ‘Spare’. It is difficult to sympathise with a person from such a privileged background, especially as it is his own family that he keeps ‘throwing under the bus’, in his (maybe justified) railings against the world press and media, and uses the very same (Netflix and TV interviews) to bleat that he loves his family and wishes reconciliation.  I think the following cartoon sums up the majority of British feelings on this royal debacle. Thank heaven he IS the spare, and won’t be needed!

It took until the end of January before I was well enough or had the time to create a video of the Palmer Family Christmas.




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