Chapter 6 – Travelling, still confused…

My Father in Law Stanley had passed away on 26th February 2003 (coincidentally the same date as my own Father which was 26.2.1971). We had found him a place in the Dunkirk Memorial Home in Taunton run by the British Legion a few years previously, but within a few weeks when it became apparent that he was developing Alzheimers they asked us to find him somewhere else which was actually pretty pathetic for a home that advertised that it was also a nursing home. Specially in the light of the fact that he had worked tirelessly for the British Legion. We had moved him into a nursing home just outside Penzance and this was where he died. Since Penzance is a long way from anywhere none of the family had been able to attend the funeral, so my husband had arranged to have a memorial service held in the chapel of Stanley’s old Regiment (The King’s Regiment) which is in Manchester Cathedral. His younger brother Jon and his wife Sue lived in California at the time, so the service had been arranged to coincide with a holiday they were taking in Ireland to attend the wedding of friends. They were to fly over from Ireland for the weekend and we were to meet them in Manchester, together with Julian’s elder brother and his mother Audrey (who had been divorced from his father for 30 years or more).

A colleague of Julian’s had travelled to Manchester the previous weekend and reported road works and the inevitable tail backs which had made the journey into a lengthy nightmare. I didn’t feel up to doing any long distance motorway driving right at that time, since I was still adjusting insulin doses which were now on their way down due to hypos. So thinking it unfair that Julian would have to do all the driving I booked us on a train on the Friday. On my way back from the station I passed a newly opened hair salon and was surprised to see a young woman standing behind reception who had done my hair in the past. I had stopped going to the salon she previously worked at since it had got very expensive. On a whim I popped in and asked when she could cut my hair. At this juncture my hair was thinner than ever and hanging in rats tails, she certainly couldn’t make it look any worse! Nadine was pleased to see me, she had just opened this salon in partnership with two colleagues and didn’t seem to resent my deserting her previously. I was lucky and she could accommodate me right away. An hour later I stepped into the sunlight with a short spiky hairdo which was a 100% improvement on how it had looked. She’d mentioned that I’d lost a lot of weight and I explained about being diagnosed diabetic. She told me that another of her clients had been diagnosed and at the same time lost a lot of hair, but she thought that it was due to the woman’s thyroid rather than diabetes. I fervently hoped there was nothing else wrong with me!

On the Friday we boarded the train, which became very hot and crowded after Plymouth and I was relieved that I wouldn’t be travelling at a time when I had to have an injection. The thought of standing in the train toilet being rattled about with a needle in my tummy wasn’t one I was very keen on! Whilst on the train the temp agency phoned and offered me a job starting the next Wednesday, at Sure Start Lescudjack which is 300 metres round the corner from our home. I was quite pleased that it was a Receptionist position, since I had found audio typing very boring.

At Manchester station we only had a short wait until Julian’s mother’s train arrived and we could escort her to the hotel in the centre of the city. Once there we met up with Jon and Sue and went out for a meal that evening. Naturally there was lots of news to catch up with and after we finished in the restaurant we ended up in the bar at our hotel. This bar didn’t seem to want to close! It was quite lively, but not so much that we couldn’t hear each other speak. Before we knew it, it was 1 am and we decided to call it a night. As I stood up I recognised the warning signs of a hypo. I had Lucozade tablets with me, but at this stage I was convinced that I needed huge amounts of starchy carb to follow up the sweet kick of the fast sugar. At 1 am the hotel kitchens were closed and no food was available. Hubby and I found ourselves venturing out into Piccadilly in search of sustenance. As it happened Piccadilly at 1 am was as crowded as it would be at 1pm, except that the age range was much younger! People were on their way to and from clubs and waiting for late busses and we quickly found a convenience store where I was able to purchase a couple of tubs of pasta salad (oh how I shudder at the thought now!).

Saturday dawned clear and sunny. I recall dashing out to buy a pair of high heeled shoes to wear with my new and very sveldt grey trouser suit. On returning to the hotel to meet up with the others we were somewhat taken aback when Audrey announced that Jeremy (the eldest brother) had rung to say he wouldn’t be attending as “he had something else on”. A few eyebrows were raised at that bit of news, but Audrey queened her way through it. Nothing is ever less than perfect in the family, and if it is, it’s ignored. However a pair of cousins who the brothers hadn’t seen since they were children turned up.

The ceremony was quite short and very touching with a photo of Stanley in his uniform placed on the altar. Afterwards the ashes were buried in the grounds of the Cathederal. We all felt that Stanley would have approved. We retired for lunch at the nearby Cathederal coffee shop and a lot more “catching up” took place. Audrey did a good job of posing as “the grieving widow” with fond reminiscences of the man she had divorced 30+ years earlier! In actual fact, Stanley’s second wife, from whom he was separated hadn’t come! Families!!!

The day wore on, with me vacillating between high BGs and hypos on and off all day. At one point I went to lie down whilst all of the others were having tea and cake in the hotel. I rejoined them later, to find them stuck into a bottle of Gin and a supply of tonics which had found their way into Audrey’s suitcase.

Oh the innocence of that time diabetic-wise! It was actually me who suggested that we all go off to “Little China”, one of Manchester’s attractions, and have a Chinese meal that evening. I steered clear of ordering anything Sweet and Sour, but tucked happily into vast portions of rice. I was convinced I was doing the “right thing” and eating plenty of starchy carbs! At 8 pm exactly I retired to the Ladies’ loo to give myself my 8pm injection of Novomix. The cubicles were so small that I couldn’t put my bag anywhere, assemble my pen and inject, so I ended up doing it by the washbasins. Half way through with the pen firmly embedded in my tummy a young woman walked in and glanced pointedly at my insulin pen. I blushed and explained that I wasn’t a drug addict, I was diabetic. “Yes,” she replied, “I realise that, so am I, have been since I was 3”. Well, that was it… a real life diabetic to talk to, one who injected! This tete a tete was eventually broken up when Sue came looking for me. Sent by hubby who was concerned at the length of time I’d been gone and wondering if I was OK!

Next morning we gathered for a full buffet style English breakfast in the hotel. I carefully selected all the starch I could find and eschewed the bacon and eggs… I was at war with myself. Everything I’d adhered to diet wise over the past year or so was turned upside down. Of course I hadn’t eaten many cooked breakfasts, but if I had it would have been a poached egg on toast, rather than hash browns, sauteed potatoes, baked beans etc. I can laugh now, since I’d be selecting the eggs and bacon rather than the other items and not worrying about the fat content – in fact I’d be thinking it may slow down absorption and should I split the bolus!

We bade farewell to Jon and Sue who went off to the airport and we did a recce of the city to find something to eat on our train home which, due to Sunday rail repairs, was scheduled to take 10 hours. Train buffets are not generally renowned for their gourmet excellence! After a fair bit of trecking about we found a Sainsbury’s supermarket open. I can vaguely recall selecting salads for two meals but ensuring that they included such items as potato salad and pasta salad. We returned to the hotel and escorted Audrey to the station to catch our respective trains which involved a lot of heaving suitcases onto tram systems and a fair bit of walking. We must have got there in plenty of time, because we were all sitting on a seat in the station when the dreaded hypo crept up on me yet again! Shaking and trembling I couldn’t find my “rescue kit” in the packed bags and hubby, bless him, came to the rescue, finding me Lucozade tabs and biscuits to eat. By the time he found them he practically had to put them in my mouth as I was so shaky. Throughout the whole thing I was aware that Audrey had turned her back, was studiously ignoring my plight and pretending we didn’t belong to her! It hasn’t changed since. She is the solicitious mother in law, providing I don’t do anything “embarrassing” in public, like go hypo or inject!

Our train journey was long, slow, tedious and very hot. It was flaming June after all and for once we were enjoying a lovely English summer. The saving grace was that we had managed to snag a copy of the new Harry Potter book which had only come out at midnight! I got stuck in and was entranced as always by J R Rowling’s characters. We ate our salads and snacks, we had some wine, the journey passed and round about Dawlish in Devon my 8pm injection was due. Fortunately we had 4 seats facing over a table to ourselves and I felt reasonably private enough to inject there rather than trying to stand in the toilets whilst the train rattled on. My very first public injection, with a sea view to boot! Until we entered the tunnel. Yikes, it was dark! I left the needle in until we emerged on the Teignmouth side. In fact, it’s a very scenic route round that bit of the coast!

To be continued… starting at Lescudjack and getting to grips with things.

Comments are closed.