Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Midwinter wobbles and the last leg

I am sitting here with shoes on both feet.  In the greater scheme of things, this means nothing, but tonight is three months and one week since I broke my ankle, and since then I have been wearing a cast - first plaster, then plastic - on my left foot.  I have what should be my last hospital appointment in three weeks, after which I should officially be back on my own two feet again.

In the mean time, I have been advised to gradually get used to walking around "normally" indoors at home.  To begin with, it was a real struggle, as I didn't realise how much strength I had lost in my left leg.  I have been forcing myself to lead with my left leg going up and down stairs.  I still need both hands to steady myself, but I'm starting to notice an improvement.  At work, I can hobble about the office and immediate vicinity with reasonable confidence now, but still need a stick for walking to other wings of the hospital, and most certainly outside.  As for public transport, the stick is essential, especially for buses that race off before I can sit down or attempt handbrake turns mid route.  Travelling by other public transport is restricted to stations that I don't need to use a staircase to get to the platform.  Hence my only commuting option at present being Southgate to King's Cross, though even that got snarled up on Friday when the down escalator was taken out of action.  This meant that station staff had to find a wheelchair for me, and push me to the alternative entrance, several minutes away, then take me in a lift down one level, then another marathon push to another lift to get me to the platform I would normally descend to in under 2 minutes.  Any "step free" access the transport system has is aimed at tourists, NOT to aid the disabled.  Little thought has gone into the positioning of the lifts in the newly built part of King's Cross.  If they genuinely had disable access in mind, they would have hidden the lifts and forced you to walk five minutes to get a further level down.  And in terms of emergency evacuation - don't get me started.

In spite of the snow on the ground, I have managed to get too and from work fairly easily.  Mostly thanks to the good sense of people in ours and the next street in keeping paths clear of snow and ice.  It appears we weren't the only households who stocked up on rock salt in case of bad weather.  Once the local children, dogs and more than a few parents had fun romping in the snow on Sunday morning, people got down to shovelling and scraping a safe way clear for every one.

Another thing we made sure we had good stocks of before any bad weather was bird food.  Not just for the chickens, but for wild birds too.  The usual feeder fare of fatballs and mealworms was expanded to include sunflower seeds, barley flakes, suet nuggets and dried native berries.  I found a spot to put out a tray of food that would attract thrushes, but be too tight a squeeze for magpies and woodpigeons (who could continue to benefit from anything the chickens kicked out of there runs) and was very soon rewarded with the sight of redwings and blackbirds.  But best of all was the sight of a goldcrest and male and female blackcaps feeding on the berries of the honeysuckle that cloaks the fence above the pond.  Normally I cut that back to stop too many leaves falling in the pond, but I've not been able to do any of my usual pruning this autumn and winter,  Sometimes it pays to be a little less tidy.

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