April 3, 2015


It’s over a week since i started taking a daily dose of Natto and I have to say it seems to have worked wonders for my blood pressure. Each time I check  it it’s 140/80 or less whereas, even with my other ‘natural remedies’ there were times when it would be a bit higher…

The downside is that it really is an acquired taste and, at first, even the sight of it was a bit difficult to stomach.


OK, you say, it looks a bit like baked beans but when you take a spoonful there are stringy strands to cope with which make it rather off-putting.

So far, the smell doesn’t seem too bad but the taste is peculiar. It isn’t that strong but the first three days it made me feel sick.

Now, if it’s well mixed with porridge, raisins, honey, nuts and my morning supplements I can eat it without wanting to vomit.

Who knows, in a week or so I may even enjoy it..

Charles Bonnet Syndrome

March 31, 2015

For the past few months Bear has been seeing things – patterns on the wall, butterflies, people wearing hats or masks and even a parrot behind the computer.

He had also been suffering from bronchitis and a urine infection so the doctor put it down to fever and/or low blood sugar as he wasn’t eating properly. One of the carers also suggested it could be due to dehydration as he refused to drink because he wanted to wee all the time.

However, after these causes were over, he still experienced hallucinations.We know his sight is failing because of Macular Degeneration but as far as I knew this meant that straight lines could be seen as wavy ones and a blurred patch could occur in the middle of his field of vision. Could these vivid objects be caused by his eyesight?

Well, according to a recent Google search, the answer is yes. I discovered Charles Bonnet Syndrome and this almost exactly describes his symptoms.

It’s a relief to know that there could be an explanation that doesn’t involve losing his marbles as he was getting quite worried and frightened. The visions are extremely real to him and he got cross when I said I couldn’t see them. Now he is more reassured that this may be the answer to his problems.

Of course, we need a doctor to confirm it but there’s no way they will put forward his eye appointment in August (ophthalmologists .are few and far between so waiting times are terribly long) but I have managed to arrange for him to see another specialist in the next Departement in early July.

Has anyone had experience of people with Macular Degeneration and if so, have they, too, had visions like this?

How Time Flies as you get older.

March 21, 2015

They say that the older you get the quicker time seems to pass and I have to say that’s true for me but when people much younger say the same thing it must be true!

It only seems like last month when we celebrated Christmas and saw the New Year in and now we’re nearly a quarter of the way through 2015.

Another sign of my age is the increasing number of remedies that find their way into my breakfast bowl:  vitamins C and D, celery seed and Krill oil (for arthritis), reishi mushroom in powder form (for high blood pressure) and recently I’ve started the day with a few drops of lemon essential oil in warm water and that seems to have given me a noticeable boost of energy – or am I imagining it?

This week I ordered some Natto as, that is supposed to be very good for you. However, I believe it’s an acquired people say it smells like very mature cheese plus smelly socks.

It’s due to arrive next week so I’ll let you know how it goes down.

Bear has tried mesotherapy for his pain. He had his second session on Thursday with injections in his back. Last week the doctor injected around his kneecap. The jury is still out as to whether or not it’s helpful but it makes him sleep even more than usual.

He really wanted to watch the eclipse on TV but he dozed off and when I tried to wake him he just muttered for me to leave him alone. Of course, he was able to see it later.

Compared to Bear and Whale I am very fit and active for which I’m extremely thankful.

How embarrassing.

March 12, 2015

Poor Whale suffered a great indignity this morning but, it also has a funny side.

Yesterday the carer discovered that he was bleeding in an awkward place. (I’m not naming names because I don’t want to be Googled for the wrong reasons!).

She phoned her nurse ‘boss’ who proposed putting a sticky dressing on it. Not surprisingly said dressing didn’t stay put.

Today we called our own nurse to come and give an opinion and poor Whale found himself surrounded by four women all discussing his very personal problem – there was the nurse, the carer, my neighbour who helps the carer and me. He has a very swollen stomach so couldn’t see the problem himself  and he had difficulty following the conversation in excitable French at nineteen to the dozen.

In fact they were talking quite a lot about the ‘boss’ nurse whom no-one likes and saying her idea was nonsense.

A few years ago Whale would have died of embarrassment  but he is now more accustomed to the French way of life where people are not at all bothered about the human body. However, i still wince inwardly on his behalf when young girls manipulate his sensitive areas without a care in the world.

This and That

February 28, 2015

Today I’m feeling rather virtuous because, at last, I’ve mucked out the henhouse (fairly) thoroughly. Most days I clean out the droppings and  add more litter but during the Winter I really don’t feel like emptying the tray completely so that I can disinfect everywhere when it’s either wet and windy or below freezing.

Today, after a hard frost, there was bright sunshine and it felt warm so I collected all the necessary equipment and got the job done. The chickens now have a sweet smelling home well sprayed with stuff to kill off mites and other pests that threaten to emerge when the weather improves.

Actually, after this Winter when the hens hardly laid any eggs but still needed feeding twice a day in all weathers I was seriously considering making this the last year of chicken ‘farming’ but now that the Spring clean is done I feel better about it again. Time will tell . . . . . . .

My computer has been a real pain recently, refusing to Start after being turned off. At first it seemed the cause was Firefox as it behaved better after I uninstalled it. However, Internet Explorer has tended to crash more and more until it refused to start again today. Windows managed to repair itself and the Kaspersky didn’t detect any problems after a complete scan but I’ve downloaded Chrome to see if it is any ‘safer’. The trouble is my remembered password for WordPress didn’t transfer so I can’t access the blog except by IE.

Bear and Whale are both booked in for hospital appointments next Thursday. Whale has to go to the ‘day outpatients’ to have liquid drained from his lung. They haven;t been able to find the cause of his pleurisy and so to avoid an operation he will have to go for this procedure once a fortnight. I’m also hoping they can fit in his catheter change which is due the same day.

Bear has had bronchitis for what seems like ages and three courses of anti-biotics later he’s still congested. He’s now on a fourth course for a urine infection. He has to have an ultrasound (kidneys, bladder and prostate) and a lung x-ray on Thursday afternoon. He seems very tired and sleeps most of the day but he’s also lost his appetite and it’s very difficult to tempt him to eat anything.

On the subject of food, I’ve been avoiding wheat (or it may be the yeast that causes my heartburn) and am trying bread made with spelt flour using cream of tarter and bicarb as raising agents. It tastes good and there are no after effects.


Good and bad surprises

February 11, 2015

Let’s start with the ‘bad’, which is not that bad anyway. Yesterday Bear was looking for the things to put in his pockets and he couldn’t find his wallet. That’s not unusual as he’s always forgetting where he left it – like his pen, his comb, his mobile, the zapper for the TV – you name it. . . . . . . But suddenly I had a thought: I had put a wash on earlier and was interrupted jin the middle of going through his trouser pockets. I had rescued his phone but. . . . . Sure enough, the wallet was still in his back pocket, rather wet. The notes looked reasonably OK  – not as wet as I’d feared – and the little note from his daugther (who died) wasn’t even smudged. Whew, I took the wallet through to the bedroom where Delphine, the carer was helping him to dress. “Sorry, its been through the wash but I think everything’s alright.” Ooh dear, poor Delphine heard a string of ‘gros mots’ which I’m sure she understood in essence and then Bear proceeded to blame Whale for what had happened! His logic was difficult to follow so I gave up! Anyway, the notes are all dried and perfectly fine now and the credit cards still work. No harm done but I will be extra careful in future. The nice surprise was a visit from Francoise this morning. She came to say that the village association which is there to help people had decided to mark St Valentine’s day by delivering a free breakfast to all the pensioners on Sunday morning. She had come to take our orders for coffee, tea or chocolate to have with a croissant and pain au chocolat and to find out what time we would like to have it.  What a lovely idea!


Health Matters

February 6, 2015

It feels like quite a long time since I last blogged but this morning there’s some spare time as I’ve finished the first round of chores earlier than usual because I got up at 6 0’clock.

Why?  Because Whale had an appointment at the hospital at 8.30 but he had to be there 40 mnutes beforehand for an x-ray before seeing the consultant. This is a follow-up visit after a week in hospital with pleurisy.

The carers usually come to wash the men about 10.30 and their boss said it wouldn’t be possible for anyone to come before 7 so Francine, my neighbour who helps out with the two invalids offered to come and help me get him ready.

He still has a cough and gets short of breath easily so it seems they haven’t found the underlying cause,of his pleurisy despite daily x-rays when he was on the ward – plus an endoscopy via the nose which he found really uncomfortable.

The ambulance arrived at 7.20 just as Francine and I had finished dressing him and two cheerful ambulance men took him off in good time.

As for Bear, he is becoming more and more depressed with having to put up with bad eyesight (macular degeneration) and constant pain due to herniated discs and arthritis. Our doctor refuses to give him stronger painkillers (containing morphine) because he refuses to uses a commode or ‘bottle’ at night and she is afraid he could fall on the way to the loo. The only painkillers that are effective are anti-inflammatories and these are forbiddden due kidney damage so he is given codeine with paracetamol which he claims doesn’t help at all.

The pain specialist has tried various injections in his back but they play havoc with his diabetes and are not effective for very long so she sent him into hospital for a week last year to see if the experts there could find a solution. The only thing they proposed was an operation but the surgeon refused, saying it was too risky at his age (87) and, anyway, he couldn’t say that the pain would be much better afterwards.

So, you see, my patients aren’t  getting any better.

Fortunately, i usually keep pretty well but after finding that I had to reach for the gaciscon frequently I decided to give up wheat. Surprisingly the effect was amazing. No more heartburn!

After a couple of weeks I thought I’d see if it really was due to wheat so I risked a bit of bread with some vegetable soup last night and, sure enough, the symptoms were back.

Oh dear, I really love bread, especially freshly baked baguettes but it looks as though I’ll have to find a gluten free version.

French NHS?

January 17, 2015

There are rumours that the French government is trying to bring about changes to the system which will make it more like the NHS. Doctors went on strike against the idea and are threatening more action later this year.

Unfortunately our local hospital doesn’t have a good reputation and people try to go to Reims for operations and even for consultations with specialists. The new system would reduce or even dispense with patient choice.

At the moment things still move pretty quickly here however. For esample, Whale complained that he was short of breath and when the doctor came on Tuesday she ordered a blood test and x-ray. The nurse did the blood test on Thursday morning and at 8.15p.m. our doctor called to say the results indicated a problem and she wanted him to go into hospital.

“Right now!”

“Well, maybe it could wait until the morning but I’ll ring the hospital and then let you know.”

Five minutes later she called back to say they were sending an ambulance and she would bring a letter and ‘bon de transport’ herself.  The doctor and ambulance arrived together about ten minutes later and off he went; no time to panic!

However, it transpired that he had to wait over two hours in A & E before being seen which accounts for the fact that they couldn’t tell me anything when I rang at 10.30. They even implied that he might be sent home that night. At 11.30 they said he had been taken to a room and they were waiting for test results.

“Will you be keeping him in overnight?”

“Oh, I don’t know. There doesn’t seem to be much wrong with him; he’s calling us every five minutes. Ring back in a couple of hours.”

“Sorry, but I need some sleep. Will you ring me if you’re sending him home please?”

She agreed and I warned CC and Jay to listen for the phone and come and wake me as I sleep like a log.

Next morning I rang at 8.30. No news. Ring again at 11.

A few minutes before 11 Whale rang me, courtesy of the hospital phone.

“They’re sending me to a ward. I don’t know where but there’s a problem with  my left lung.” He sounded rather worried.

I promised to ring them and find out what was happening and where they were taking him so we could bring in all the things he needed.

They said he was going to the pulmonary ward but didn’t clarify what was wrong.

CC, Jay and I went in at 3 o’clock but CC, being claustrophobic, was surprised to find that the door to the staircase was locked. In fact, there was a notice saying “This door must remain closed and locked at all times”. How crazy is that?

She went for a coffee in the entrance hall and Jay and I and found his room on the third floor. It’s a  double room but the other chap seems very pleasant.

Whale’s main concern was that he should have the telepone connected so I went to ask for the necessary form. The system had changed since the last time and now telephone and television were dealt with in the same office with no need for a form – just the name and room number.

When I went to the lift I came face to face with a bemused looking gentleman who said he was trying to get to the ground floor but the lift wouldn’t go there. I went in and saw that it said something about being ‘locked’ so suggested we try another lift. He followed me into the one next door and despite saying we were on the ground floor, when the doors opened we were definitely NOT. He went to ask someone and a lady kindly accompanied us, pressed all the right buttons and made the lift go down. It seems you have to press the correct button among the four marked rdc. (rez de chaussée: ground floor)

It was best not to tell CC about that little adventure when I saw her at the coffee bar. She was still drinking so I went to find the telephone office myself. There was a queue but eventually I organised a connection for Whale putting 20 euros on his account so that he could phone England and went back to his room with the details.

He was happy and having supplied him with books, biscuits and mineral water we said goodbye.

He rang this morning to say they had diagnosed pleurisy and give a list of things to bring in at visiting time this afternoon.






Je suis Charlie

January 8, 2015
 This is not my post but I think it merits sharing after the cowardly attack which killed 12 people in Paris.
Their magazine may have offended some people but they didn’t deserve to die.

Charlie Hebdo attack: the response in pictures

There  has been an outpouring of posts on social media in the wake of the attacks in Paris, with 1.3m tweets alone using the hashtag #CharlieHebdo.This graphic (in English: “I am Charlie”) was shared more than 140,000 times in the first hours after the attacks.

Je Suis Charlie poster image being shared on Twitter

The magazine itself then published a PDF with the same phrase translated into seven different languages.

"I am Charlie" graphic in Persian

Le Monde and L’Express cartoonist @plantu tweeted this image. The text reads: “We are wholeheartedly with Charlie Hebdo”.

Plantu tribute after Charlie Hebdo  attack

A 2012 cartoon from the New Yorker was shared more than 6,000 times in the first few hours after the attack.

Cartoon featured in the New Yorker in 2012

Charlie Hebdo’s editor-in-chief Gerard Biard, who was in London during the attack, said: “I don’t understand how people can attack a newspaper with heavy weapons. A newspaper is not a weapon of war.” Cartoonists picked up on the ‘mighty pen’ theme.

Cartoon of attackers holding a paintbrush

There were many variations on the theme questioning how lethal a cartoonist can actually be. The cartoon below says: “Why? … Pump-action rifle? … Kalashnikov? … Grenade?”

Translation: "Why? ... Pump-action rifle? ... Kalashnikov? ... Grenade?"

Previous Charlie Hebdo covers were also being shared on social media. The text of the most popular reads: “Love is stronger than hate” and shows the editor of the magazine kissing a figure that many have interpreted as the Prophet or one of his followers.

That front cover was published after the magazine’s offices were attacked in Nov 2011.

Dutch cartoonist Ruben Oppenheimer drew parallels between Wednesday’s shootings and the 9/11 attacks.

Two pencils represent the Twin Towers attack

Australian cartoonist David Pope shared an emotional tweet that was shared more than 30,000 times.

David Pope tribute to Charlie Hebdo workers

Some posters went straight to the heart of the issue by sharing a cartoon by the French artist Delize. The text reads: “Believers hurt by non-believers” (the man crying on the left) and “Non-believers hurt by believers.” (the man lying in the pool of blood on the right).

A cartoon by French artist Delize of a man reading a newspaper and a wounded man lying on the ground

Blog by Sitala Peek

One of those mornings.

January 3, 2015

My routine usually consists of feeding the cats, dog and chickens, then doing breakfast and medication for Bear and Whale before sitting down at the computer with my own breakfast  to check my emails and catch up with the day’s news while waiting for the carer to arrive to wash the old codgers. (Both of them during the week but just Whale at weekends.)

This morning things went a bit awry.

It started when Bear decided to get dressed at 25 past 8 and I knew the morning would be disrupted.

Sure enough, after he had had his breakfast he decided to climb over Kica’s bed to take down the Christmas cards upsetting my sewing box in the process and spilling all the pins into her basket. I asked him to stay on guard to keep Kica and the cats out of the way until I could clear up the mess.

Then the carer arrived early so I had to help her and just as we finished I managed to knock over Whale’s glass of water. Of course, it broke into hundreds of pieces in water all over the floor. * (see below)

I had just begun to clear this up when the nurse arrived to change the dressing on Bear’s toe. (He had stubbed it when he fell in the loo a couple of days ago and the chiropodist can’t come until Wednesday. A nail is hanging on by a thread and we have to be very careful to avoid infection as he is diabetic.)

I started on the glass and water and had just about done the worst when the doorbell went. It was the neighbour who had asked me to help him with some translations a few months ago. He came bearing champagne and chocolates and expecting to stay for a coffee. He saw the vacuum cleaner and picked up on the fact that I was a bit frazzled so i managed to curtail his visit by giving him a large slice of Christmas cake to take home and share wirth his wife and daughter.

Then it was picking up pins with a magnet and, finally, things  began to get back to normal.

*Is it just me who finds it odd that Whale keeps a glass with water in it on his table when he has a bottle of Evian there as well? What I mean is, if i want a glass of water i pour it in the glass and drink it straight down and then get on with what I’m doing.  Glasses have been knocked over many times on Whale’s table because it is always being moved backwards and forwards between his bed and his chair – and both CC and I are famous for being clumsy. When i asked him why he couldn’t  put water in his glass when he was thirsty and drink it all up he was quite surprised and said he liked to sip it from time to time. I pointed out that it was more difficult to clear up broken glass together with water but it fell on deaf ears.