Oops. Long time no bloggeau. Laziness I suppose. But there again, nothing much has happened. Anyways..., thought I'd do a quickie just to say I'm off to hospital tomorrow (Thursday) for a Friday op on my toe. I gather the surgeon chappie is going to slice the rubbishy end off and then send me home on Saturday. I understand I'll be able to drive with a damaged left peg, so I won't have to catch a bus or invest in an automatic gearbox jam jar. Was intending to bloggeau after the op but so many extremely kind people have ear'oled moi for a progress report and to make sure I haven't fallen of me perch. Your concern is much appreciated. Apologies for lack of riveting news. Looking forward to scribing a more interesting posting next week. Toodle pip.
Been very lazy. Haven't bloggeaued for ages. Not much been happening. Never does in winter. Rubbish weather and rotting toe means stay indoors. Reduced mobility gets boring after a time. Then a bit more boring after a bit more time. The clock ticks and the days roll by. Dull skies mean dull routines. Staring out the window. Watching the rain. Thinking how times have changed. Memories of strolling over those distant hills. Now I just limp up the back lane. C'est la vie.
Went for a check up at that Limoges hospital a couple of weeks back. Half expected the surgeon to chop off the end of the rotting toe. But he didn't. Told me instead to come back again in another month's time. I presume he thought it just might heal. He might be right. But I think he's wrong.
Went back in again a couple of days later. Saw some heart specialist. Stuck electrical thingies all over my chest and stuffed a drip thing in my arm. Didn't really know what was going on. Turned out he was reading my heart workings on a telly screen. The drip thing apparently pumped some liquid into my bloodstream which quickened my heart rate. Apparently at 130 beats a minute my heart misbehaved a bit. Doctor wasn't sure why. He's now booked me in for a minor exploratory operation in about ten days time. I think they're going to pump dye into the heart area to see if some of the tubes are blocked. Not sure though. Anyways, I gather I'll be hospitalised for just two nights. Then I presume they'll know a bit more exactly what the problem is. Then..., I presume they may have to operate again to put it right. Maybe another stent or two. Or maybe just stretching or expanding hardened or partially blocked arteries. Don't know. Haven't a clue.
However, I now have a slightly clearer idea of what's been going on. Originally I thought it was a simple case of gout. May well have been. But added to that was a blocked thigh artery which meant blood couldn't reach the left foot toe area. Didn't realise it at the time though. I now know that that blocked artery, or my present heart condition (whatever that may be), has been around a lot longer than I originally thought. Maybe up to a year or more. Maybe even longer - at a medical check up about ten years ago I was told I had high blood pressure. So, for over a decade my heart's been having to pump harder to get the blood to circulate. And now, I presume, it's just a bit knackered. I guess that's the price I pay for smoking since I was sixteen. Given up now though. Two months. And counting.
In my recent 'Stent' posting I mentioned that my surgeon at the Limoges hospital had booked me in for a check-up at the end of December. This was to see if the op to insert a 'stent' in my left thigh had had the knock-on effect of renewing the circulation to the toes in my left foot, thus saving them from being amputated (same condition as frostbite). At the time of the appointment being made I was horizontal in hospital with a useless left foot. This ruled out driving the 70 miles to Limoges for the December check-up. Looked like the only way to get there would be by coach and cab. However, Donnie very kindly flew out to spend Hogmanay with us and, at the same time, drive my car to and from the Limoges hospital. By the time the appointment had rolled around, a semblance of life had miraculously returned to my big toe, but the adjacent one remained dead as a dodo. For that reason I fully expected to be kept in hospital for a quick op to remove said toe before being sent limping home a few days later. However, the surgeon seemed encouraged by the big toe's recovery and so decided to allow a stay of execution for the adjacent toe. Another appointment was made for a final check-up. The poorly toe now had thirty days to recover, or it was due for the chop. With that, Georgie, Donnie, Jock and I piled back into the car and headed home. That was ten days ago. Twenty to go.
Since that Limoges trip, life at home has become a sort of dull routine of lazing around doing bugger all apart from popping pills and feeling extremely guilty about Georgie being carer. Have to admit I'm a rubbish patient. Having been virtually immobilised for about a month now I'm beginning to notice a distinct drop in fitness levels. Whereas before I used to think nothing of an hour or two's stroll over the hills with canine company, I now feel knackered after hobbling about a hundred yards. And that's despite giving up the fags and booze three weeks ago. Surprisingly, giving up the fags was easy. Always is when you have to. Well, I presume I had to. After all, some of the medics reckon it was smoking that originally caused the chloresterol build-up in the left leg artery which nearly killed me. Could have been diet of course, but test results showing 'normal' chloresterol levels suggest otherwise. Must be saving around 40 quid a week by kicking the nicotine and whisky. Or maybe a bit less. Pricey stuff these addictions.
Can't really comment on how things are going in the toe department. I get occasional jabs of pain which I presume is blood blasting its way into dead areas of flesh, but I might be wrong. Maybe it's just nerve endings on their last legs having one final fling. Who knows. And visually, there's not much to see. The big toe is now pink (was black, but a nurse pulled the old skin off - a bit like a snake shedding its skin) but remains a bit swollen. And it looks a bit of a mess (blackish) where the old toenail fell off - a new one will apparently grow back, according to Laurent, one of the nurses. However, the adjacent toe remains stubbornly black in its upper half with no apparent signs of new skin growth. I only get to see its condition briefly in the mornings when I remove the bandage and dressings in order to soak the foot in warm water before the nurse arrives at around 10am. Not a pretty sight. The toe that is, not the nurse.
All we can do is live in hope. Maybe that toe will suddenly shed its black coat and return to full fitness, but I remain somewhat pessimistic. And although the big toe seems to have escaped the chop, I have my doubts. Still, we'll just have to wait and see. Fingers crossed.
So..., there I was with a mint, UK registered Montesa 4RT trials bike that couldn't be re-registered in France due to a lack of one of these confounded 'Certificat de Conformité' papers. Therefore had little option other than to return the bike to the UK and put it up for sale with the much appreciated assistance of sis and bro-in-law. Bike sold after just one week. So what bike to buy as a replacemenet? Well, as is often the case, the bike just popped up on eBay - a mint, 1963, renovated, 250 DOT trials with a 37a Villiers engine. Bought it and had it 'white-vanned' out to France. Excellent nick - er, apart from the engine being down on power and reluctant to 'rev out'. Bike now back in the UK undergoing surgery at Stevens Motorcycles in Kent. At about this time I had my first gout attack (only it wasn't gout - see 'Stent' posting). This made me think I might never ride in trials again. So I thought about selling the DOT. But that seemed bonkers as I'd only just bought it. Then I thought maybe I have just one more crack at riding in a pre-'65 or twinshock trial. Maybe next year's Phil Mellers trial in Hampshire. Or maybe next year's Dick Little trial. Or maybe next year's Greybeards. The DOT would be an ideal steed for all those trials. Or maybe a twinshock would be better. So I had a quick search for twinshocks. Spotted a gem. A Don Godden-framed 320 Majesty. Bought it. White-vanned it out here. Now parked up in the garage. So I now own two absolutely brilliant trials bikes, both of which could be seen as investments. Or maybe I'll sell the DOT and keep the Majesty. Or if this blasted foot condition results in no more trials rides, maybe I'll sell 'em both. Nah, perish the thought.
Date for the diary: 18th November - that's when this year's snow arrived. Came about a month later than last year so maybe we're in for a teeny bit shorter winter. Surprisingly, it came without warning. The previous evening had been sunny so I was looking forward to getting out to take some snaps of the autumnal colours. However, the snow put a stop to that. Shame really, 'cos the trees had turned into striking colours of reds, browns and yellows. Now, a couple of weeks later, the trees are almost bare, their colourful leaves lying on the ground battered by snow and blown by winds.
Couple of nights after that first flurry, the real snow hit. About ten inches. Had to shovel a path to the woodshed to get much needed logs. Then dig out the car to get provisions from downtown. As with all snows, one never knows when it will end, or for how long you'll be snowed in. So, when the winter snows arrive, it makes sense to get down the supermarché and get stocked up. Trouble is, everyone thinks the same so get there late and the shelves start looking a bit bare. Nipped down there in the afternoon and was quite surprised to see that it hadn't snowed nearly as much down in the lowlands. Just a couple of inches. Keep forgetting how high we are - about 600 metres, which is about the same as the high bits of the Derbyshire Peaks district.
Woke up earlyish on the day the snow arrived. Noticed a couple of visitors in the garden scavenging for fallen apples under the snow. Normally deer keep well clear of the village. But these two seemed perfectly at ease pottering around les jardins. Wonderful to watch. Then they were gone.
First noticed it about a month ago. A bit of a pain and numbness in the three larger toes of my left foot. Did a bit of online research and decided it must be gout. Visited the doctor. Twice. He said it could be gout, but then mentioned a calcium malaise that had similar symptoms. Eventually prescribed some pain killers and some other pills to combat gout. Few days later the pain was even worse, the foot had swollen, a couple of toes had blackened and felt really cold, as if the blood wasn't circulating to those extremities. Visited the doc again. He immediately rushed me off to a hospital in Limoges. Specialised in circulatory problems. Couple of days later I was under the surgeon's knife. Apparently the main artery in my left thigh had become partially blocked by a chloresterol build-up. This blockage reduced the blood pressure to the foot area, thus stopping blood reaching some toes. The solution was to insert a 'stent' into the blocked artery, thereby increasing blood flow to the foot and toes. Hopefully the increased blood pressure would blast its way back into the dead toes. Or maybe not. If not, they'd have to be amputated. After ten days in hospital they sent me home. Have to return on 31 Dec for a final check up.
Felletin's wool festival is an annual event. Actually it's not so much a festival, more a three day gathering of woolly garment knitters and loomers (is there such a thing as a loomer?) peddling their wares down in the local basketball and tennis halls. Not sure if this wool festival is unique to Felletin or whether it's a national thing, but I do know that Felletin and nearby Aubusson are historically famous for producing tapestries, which, of course, are sort of knitted items. Maybe that's why Felletin has a woolly festival. Not sure though.
Georgie dragged me down there last Wednesday afternoon. Or was it Thursday? Drove past a town statue that was decorated with balls of wool, and some roadside bollards that were decked out with woolly covers. Then on past the old church which had rainbow coloured strips of material covering its perimeter fence. Parked up and legged it down to the sports halls. Ambled inside to find people setting up their stalls. We'd arrived early. The show didn't start until tomorrow. Went back to the old church and noticed there was a woolly show inside. Paid a few euros and entered. Never been in there before so was quite surprised to discover the interior wasn't a church but an impressive exhibition hall. I presume it had been converted some time ago due, perhaps, to a falling congregation (there's another church in town that's popular with the masses). Had a quick look round then scarpered for a sunny coffee at the café, leaving Georgie to continue studying the exhibits on show. She eventually joined me at an outside table and we giggled at the various women around who were avidly knitting. Knitting fever hits Felletin.
Went down to the sports halls again the following morning. The place was buzzing. At the canopied entrance to the tennis hall, four alpacas were looking a bit bored in their straw-lined pen. Fascinating animals, famous for their soft fur which makes really warm wool. I once read that llamas (similar to alpacas - dunno the difference though) are prone to spitting at anyone they don't like the look of, so I kept a respectful distance. As they didn't appear to be letting rip with the jolly old phlegm, I slowly edged a bit closer and eventually plucked up courage to stroke one (brave lad). I suddenly twigged how the term 'spitting distance' probably originated.
Inside the hall there were loads of people ogling the woolly goodies on show. Slowly shuffling from one stand to another, I couldn't really take it all in. There were knitted sweaters, cardies, hats, gloves, socks, shawls, jackets, scarves..., all sorts. Baby stuff, kids' stuff and grown ups' stuff. Spoilt for choice. Woolly overload. Then went into the other hall across the way. More woolly stuff. More milling crowds. Did a quick lap and spotted the canteen. Teas and coffees were being served. Plus fruit juices and biccies and cakes. Grabbed a coffee and went outside for a quick smoke away from the bedlam.
While quietly leaning on a fence post at the edge of the football pitch beneath the bright red berries of a rowan tree, I was suddenly aware of someone at my side. Our local mayor, the farmer. He stopped for a quick chat. Said it was a good show, but he thought the stuff was a bit expensive. I told him I hadn't noticed the prices, but said I'd check when I went back in to look for Georgie. Eventually spotted her checking out a bluey greeny jackety thingy. Told me it was about £300. Apparently she'd been nattering to a few stallholders and was now pretty genned-up on woolly stuff. She's like that. I, on the other hand, am reluctant to natter with woolly people for fear of ending up with a hideously patterned sweater and a depleted bank balance.
With the church bells clanging twelve, everyone stopped for lunch. Some people went back to their cars and drove home while others queued up for grub at the sports hall canteen. Everything stops for lunch in France. Had a final stroke of an alpaca and headed for home.
Bohemian hermit recluse hiding in the mist-shrouded hills and backwoods of central France; went to art school in the mid-Sixties and never really left; smokes like a fish and drinks like a chimney; fervent supporter of Aldershotnil FC; fascinated by the mystery of disappearing odd socks (I reckon Jock nicks 'em and they end up buried); follically, cosmetically and vertically challenged but horizontally unchallenged, otherwise perfect (it says here); probably one of the luckiest geezers in the whole wide world.