A cold lunch

Monday morning brought flurries of snow. By the time I set of to get my car fixed it had been snowing constantly for at least 3.5 hours. Not that it was doing anything much. It was settling but it was such tiny granules that it didn’t look much more than a layer of frost.

Driving to the garage you wouldn’t have known there was any snow. The roads were completely clear. Arriving at my destination, an industrial estate I drove around and around for 20 minutes looking for the garage. In the end I had to pull over and phone them. Ha ha I was behind the units I needed to find. literally just yards (or meters) away.

I parked up went into the unit and hander over a set of keys. The young man said he would phone me when it was ready, (about an hour).

There was nowhere for me to wait. I walked down the road to a small takaway food unit. Joining the queue I awaited my turn to enter the premises to get something hot to eat. I watched the occasional wagtail flitting around. Never staying long enough for me to remove my gloves to take a photo. I like to take photos of wildlife.

Once I had purchased my hot pastry I walked a little further along the road, having spotted a picnic table. I settled onto the bench to wait out the time. With flakes of snow swirling around I warmed my fingers eating my hot pastry. It didn’t take very long before my fingers were hurting even with woolen gloves.

After about 40 minutes I couldn’t sit there any longer. I made my way slowly back to the unit containing my car. It was too early so I continued further on. Because I can’t walk very far I came back slowly. I did think of sinking down onto a kerb but knew that I wouldn’t be able to get back up easily. Then I spotted my car in one of the parking spaces. I hurried, if you can call my hobble hurried to find out the verdict. Apparently it wasn’t fixed. I wasn’t charged because they were unable to put it right. He gave a recommendation of where to take it next though.

If you can believe it I the had trouble getting into my car. The driver’s door refused to open. I had to get into the passenger side and climb over. Not easy.

Now I begin the search for another newer car.

Heavy snow forcast

All week they have been warning of 3 days of heavy snow, may cause travel disruption. All week I have been checking the weather on my phone. We would get some during the night but not much. Then again at 11am and 1pm. I went out before 11am to ensure I wouldn’t get caught. I was all cozy sat at home by 11am waiting for the promised snow. Even just a few flakes would do.

I understand that my granddaughter further east along the coast experienced her first snow flurries but nothing much. My grandson in London had snow but nothing settled.

It’s now Sunday evening and still no snow.

Again tomorrow we are expecting, or maybe not, more threat of snow around 10am/11am. It will be just my luck if we get snow when I’m heading out to take my poorly car to a garage in the hopes they can fix it. They tell me I will be waiting an hour for them to carry out a re-calibration. Hmm I hope I don’t freeze wandering around for an hour in an unfamiliar area.

Just a short walk

I wish I could go on lovely country or beach walks. I miss going on long walks in the countryside particularly the New Forest. Unfortunately in recent years my ability to walk very far in one go has been impaired by a combination of pain and shortness of breath. Now that my recovery is progressing I aim to build up my strength. Three times this week including today, I have walked to the next road and back. I know it isn’t very far. Today’s walk was 0.58k which took me 8 minutes. For most people this would be nothing but for me it is an achievement.

In the last couple of years I have managed to get thousands of step in each day. These are done in short bursts never long stretches. My husband always complained that I parked too far away from the store entrance when we went shopping. I did this purposefully to give myself just a little bit more exercise. For many years now I have been monitoring my daily steps. This began when one of my son’s was training to join RAF. We would compare steps each day. Obviously he always did more than me but it got me into a pattern. Each day I would look at the lowest number of steps during the past week and try to beat it then try to beat the next then the next with the aim of always beating the previous day.

Recently I stopped doing this because I knew that my steps were not worth measuring. I am only going out a few times a week during lockdown and usually by car. Now that my car is not playing the game I am walking more. It hurts but I am determined to increase my daily weekly steps again.

How is this right?

Today my car went into the garage to see what they could discover about my current car problems. It turns out to be a computer problem which can only be fixed by a main dealer garage. I can see my money vanishing into thin air. Who knows how long it could be until my car is fixed. In the meantime I have parked on the roadside so that I don’t need to worry about this reversing issue more than necessary.

Although primarily I use my car for my own benefit we also need it for transporting my mother who has MS. Whenever my mother leaves the house we have to move her by wheelchair. Since my surgery last August I have not attempted to lift her wheelchair in or out of my car. I have had help to do this. The last time I got a new car (to me) I needed to find one with a boot that was big enough to accommodate mum’s pink wheelchair, This wasn’t easy on the budget I had. In the end I got a 10 year old Renault Scenic. Unfortunately I was unable to find a suitable petrol car, so diesel it was. Not ideal as I do lots of short journeys with lots of stop starting.

Today was the day my mum has been waiting for since before Christmas. It was V day. Her first coronavirus vaccine shot . It just happened to be the day that my car was at the garage. I borrowed a car from the garage for the day.

Since speaking to the garage mechanic we have been having conversations about what to do if my car is either too expensive or too difficult to repair. One thought was that as Mum is disabled maybe she could get a mobility car with me as the named driver. We figured that this would generate lots of paperwork to fill in but would be worth it. After three of us looking into this online we came to the conclusion that this would not be possible.

If my Mum was still working she could get PIP (formerly Disability Living Allowance). She would be able to get a mobility vehicle. However even though she had MS for many years before retiring it is only in recent years that her mobility has become so difficult. Because of her age she is entitled to Attendance Allowance which she has been receiving for the last 18 months. This however doesn’t qualify her for Mobility help. We have gone over and over everything we can find. It would seem that becoming disabled after retirement age (unless you receive a Military Pension) you must stay at home and never go anywhere.

If we don’t have a vehicle of some sort it will make my life difficult but also my mother’s life. In the past year she has only left the house for medical appointments. Without a car she would need to get a taxi to her appointments. This would cause her great stress. Not only ordering a taxi, I know I can do this for her but she is an independent woman. She would be getting stressed about ordering a taxi in time to get there and needing another for the return journey. She would be stressed about finding a suitable taxi that can take her wheelchair. I know that she is not alone in being a person over retirement age who has mobility issues. How can it be right that unless you become disabled prior to retirement you do not qualify for transport whether it is a vehicle or a mobility scooter.

Back to the drawing board.

If anyone has any other information on whether or how we can do this please let me know.

Car trouble

My car has been sat on the drive since Monday. During this current lockdown I am only going out twice a week at the moment. Usually Mondays and Fridays. On these days I do my Avon deliveries put out books and pick up those that I put out the time before. I am not doing a huge amount just a dozen or so books at a time. ( I am still building up my strength after my surgery). Any other errands like shopping or picking up prescriptions that sort of thing.

This morning I loaded up my car ready to carry out my missions for the day. I went through the usual routine of starting up the engine and putting the car into reverse. I park facing inwards on the drive. However my car didn’t want to go into reverse at all. It’s an automatic so that was something of a problem. It was going from Park to Drive. Going back through the gears it went from Drive to Neutral to Park. Still no reverse.

After several attempts it was telling me to Check ESP or Check Gear Box. Each time I tried it either missed Reverse or went from Park to blank and a big judder. I was beginning to panic by this time. I shut off the engine and went back inside the house. After studying my handbook I found out that ESP is Electronic Stability Program. I was sat on the drive so I obviously wasn’t skidding or driving erratically. About an hour had gone by and I decided to give it another go. Yipee I got it into reverse, I backed out of the drive and headed off. The warning light “check ESP” didn’t go out so rather than risk getting stuck, I headed back home.

Eventually I spoke to a local garage and arranged for my car to be booked in there for Monday morning so it can be looked at. They were not promising they could fix it. It might need to go to a specialist in automatic cars. Having had a rest and a bite to eat I decided that I really did need to go out if only to pick up my books. If I say I will pick them up on a certain day then I make damn sure that I do.

I got back out to my car, started the engine, no problem this time. I set off, did what I wanted to do, even stopping to pick up my mother’s prescription. The warning did flash up but only for a second. Almost home I stopped at the top of the road to drop off a couple of books ready to pick up on Monday. ( I had already done the ones nearer to home on foot this morning). I pulled into a space for two cars, not quite close enough to the side that anyone else could park next to me. I was only stopping for less than a minute after all.

It doesn’t always pay to be confident. Even though I hadn’t even turned the engine off trouble struck. Guess what! I couldn’t reverse. I shut off the engine and tried again. Just like this morning it was skipping Reverse. This time as well as telling me to check ESP or check gear box it was also telling me to check pollution output.

Several rounds of trying it and turning off, leaving it then trying again after several minutes I gave in and called RAC. (There are other recovery services but this is the one I use). They are very busy at this time and I could be waiting for up to 3 hours. In normal times I would walk home from there, I’m not sure that I would manage it at the moment. I could possibly just about manage to walk home but not carrying everything I had with me. I’m not certain I would be able to walk back very easily. Instead I was prepared to sit and wait it out. More than anything I was worried about the fact I was taking up two parking spaces in a place where each space is taken up most of the time. I could just imagine how upset the residents would be that I was taking up so much room.

I guess I had been waiting for a little over half an hour when I gave it one more go. It went from Park to Neutral to Drive. Going back from Drive to Neutral and oh my gosh! reverse! quick move! I slowly edged back then got myself and my car back home. The warning light still on. I phoned up to let the RAC know that I had got it home but still having problems. A short time later I had a call back. As it’s not now urgent and they are busy, I am now booked in for tomorrow morning. I shall have to be up earlier than usual but at least I know that even if it isn’t fixed I will have a better idea what the problem is.

Anyway, it was worth picking up my books, I only got three back today but that was £75 worth. This was from a road I hadn’t been to since I got ill last February. Its good to see that my customers are still there after such a long time.

Stepping back

Right now I feel as though I have stepped back two years to when I was ill for 4 months. I have very little appetite, it is an effort to eat even a slice of bread. Consequently my energy levels have plummeted. I find myself feeling cold particularly my upper body and spend hours in bed sleeping fully dressed with the duvet tucked under my chin.

Not so long ago I was prescribed some tablets from the hospital to help with my bladder problems. I didn’t know if it was a coincidence but at the same time that I started taking them I started getting the painful shivery flu like symptoms that I used to get when I had  kidney infections. After a few days I stopped taking the tablets to see if that helped.

I went to see the Dr, she confirmed that no infection was present. I was advised to wait until I felt better then start taking the tablets again. At this point I had also been struggling to eat properly for maybe a month or so. Some days have been better than others.

On Sunday 31st March I took one of the tablets again as I was feeling better just a little on the weak side. By the evening I was feeling not right, by about 9pm I was having the painful shivery symptoms again. Luckily I wasn’t working on Monday but felt so bad that I again spent most of the day in bed. By Tuesday it had worn off a little. I went to work as usual (Tuesday is normally the quietest day of the week). I loaded up my car then went home or an hour to rest before doing the first part of my round. After an hour I had to go home again for a break. What I would do in 2 hours took me 4.

On Wednesday I went off to do my work knowing that I would have to keep going home as I had done the previous day. Because of my feeble state I left about 18 parcels behind I knew I didn’t have the energy levels needed. Again I went home had a rest before setting out again. After an hour I went home. I repeated this pattern, apart from my sorry state my car decided to play up. Each time I tried to restart the engine it was getting harder and harder until it decided not to start at all. I still had an hour’s worth of parcels to deliver. I phoned RAC and was told it could be upto 3 hours as the rush hour was about to start shortly. After waiting about half an hour I tried the engine again and it did start although reluctantly. I managed to limp my car home. I wasn’t going to risk it stopping.

I thought it only fair to let my field manager know what was going on. I wasn’t due to work the following day, plus my car was booked in to the garage for a safety recall. Funny how in the days leading up to going into the garage my car had started playing up, overheating light flashing, If I turned the heater up I was suddenly plunged into fog.

Anyway I decided that I needed to take Friday and Saturday off so that would give me Thursday through to Tuesday to build up my strength again. The stress this gave me in trying to find someone, anyone to cover my round for a couple of days was more than I needed. I told my field manager that because of my health I had decided to give up my round. We had a chat later in the day and I will not be doing any more parcels until I feel fit enough. When I feel up to it I can go back and do one or two days when I want to. For now my priority is to get better.

In this past week I have done nothing for my Avon business I am a week behind with putting out my books and I have a few boxes that I have yet to unpack and sort for my customers. Now that I am not doing the parcels for the moment, I am determined to catch up with my Avon.

I think that when I was ill 2 years ago I just let myself get swallowed up in it. This time I am adamant that I will fight it and get my strength back sooner rather than later. I have to be strong enough to make the journey to see my son and grandson next weekend and again on 27th for his first birthday.

I took my car out for a run to try to clear the fuel blockage. It was really noisy today, I was just starting to think about pulling into a layby. Just then the oil light came on. followed quickly by a clunk, there was a cloud of smoke and the car cut out just as I reached a slip road. (my first and only piece of luck). It took an hour and a half for my rescuer to arrive with his RAC van. It took him less than a minute to decide it was the Cam belt. So my car was towed home. He wasn’t able to get it near our home so he left it in a car park further up the road. This looks like it will be an expensive problem. By the time I had staggered home from where my car now is I was as white as a sheet according to my Mum. The poor RAC man had to put up with me retching all the way back.

Update

As it turned out I was too ill to leave the house for 2 weeks. My car was towed to a local garage where the damage was assessed. It was going to cost almost as much as I had paid for the car to get it running again. In my state of ill health I couldn’t think about it so made the decision to have my car scrapped.  I now have another car, one that has 5 seats instead of the 7 my previous car had but the boot is big enough to accommodate my mother’s pink wheelchair. I have not gone back to delivering parcels. I am doing Avon but barely have the strength to be out for an hour at a time. I sleep a lot too.

I am frustrated that I have not been able to step back into the life I had before falling ill in the spring. I am now in a routine of quiet companionship with my mother. I am now officially her carer. This was not something either of us could have envisioned a year ago. It would be easy for me to say that I am not going to carry on doing my Avon, I’m just too tired but I am continuing because it gets me out of the house, meeting people, getting some exercise and fresh air as well as a small income. I am gradually increasing my business, I’m definitely a tortoise not a hare. It allows me to pay for my own fuel, phone bill and buy gifts for my family without having to ask for a hand out from my mother.