From 'The Man who Can' to 'The Lady who Can't...'

Trip Start Apr 22, 2012
Trip End Nov 05, 2012

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Well, the bad news is that Roger's retina buckled and semi detached itself just under a week ago.  We had just got home from taking the camper van over to near Garstang for spraying when it happened - not helped by the fact that Roger had one of the locker doors of the camper van clonk him on his head earlier in the day.  The consultant didn't seem to think it was a result of the bang, but it may have been an accident waiting to happen if the retina was already buckled and not adhering properly.  
So put us in a difficult position as the camper still needs more work doing on it internally to get it back to where it was before Roger started all his modifications, never mind putting the small luxuries in that we'd planned.  Some of them would have been works in progress and would need Roger's tools and expertise to fettle them if there were any problems - eg the actuators to put the roof up and down.  We've arranged for Graham to come and spend 2 or 3 days once the van is back under Roger's direction as he's determined he's not doing anything this time - poor Graham is in for a bad time I think....
Roger had a second op at Manchester Eye Hospital yesterday morning - in the theatre for getting on for 3 hours - a long time when you've got to lie absolutely still, with a drape over your face, in the dark as they use operating microscopes, and it's all done under local anaesthetic.  We had to go back this morning for his post op check, and then he will have to go either Monday or thursday next week to see the consultant this time, so should have more of an idea as to what Roger's chances are of being able to fly out and join me somewhere in `China.
They use air as the 'splint' to keep the retina back in place in the first op, for this op they've used oil instead.  The eye has a lot of blood in it this time - will be interesting to see if this can disappear or not gradually - normally the fluid in the eye would naturally destroy the blood cells, but as it's sitting in oil not sure what happens - will the blood be denser than the oil and sink gradually all the bottom of the eye, or will it be lighter and gradually float up to the top, or will it just stay there??
The oil has to be removed by yet another operation in 3-6 months time, but unlike when they use air, you are able to fly with it as not affected by air pressure.  We're hoping he will be able to get the ok to fly out to China and then have the follow up operation when we get back in 6 months time - will have to see what the consultant says next week.

You never know when these curve balls will arrive - a friend has suffered a fairly severe stroke this week, and been left with peripheral vision; the lady next door has just gone in for a new hip to be followed by a new knee next year; and another friend has just had to go in for a prostate operation.  Add this to the list of problems many of my friends have had over the last few years and it just makes me all the more determined to try and get out and do things.  You just never know what's around the corner waiting for you.  For any of them who are reading this blog - thinking of you all and wishing you all the very best, speedy recoveries and pleasant days.
The plan now is that I will take the Hull-Rotterdam ferry on Wednesday night next week - the 28th March, and then drive to a campsite just off the autobahn I'll be on, near Potsdam, south of Berlin.  From there I'll then drive to Krakow in Poland the day after, and then it's half a days drive to the Polish border where I'm meeting Ivan and Luda, plus Eion and Liza on Saturday.  We'll cross over into Ukraine the day after.

One of the down sides (seems odd I know to moan about it) of living with a 'Man Who Can' is that you gradually over the years become a 'Lady Who Doesn't' because there just isn't ant need for you to do so.  The fun comes now when I'm due to set out on this trip on my own - not helped by the fact that I'm a bit of (well a lot of) a 'Luddite' when it comes to anything mechanical - if I can break it I will, if you have to push, prod, poke or manipulate it in anyway then I won't be able to get it to do it, I'm really going to miss saying 'Roger, Can You just....'.  
 The main thing I'm concerned about is getting the roof up and down on the camper - it can be a bit of a bugger especially if the van is not completely level.  There were only ever 5 of these campers built - I think the roof was probably one of the main problems.  Will be great once Roger does his modifications, and not a problem when Roger is with the camper as he's a little bit taller than me, has a better arm span length and is much stronger in his arms.  Despite working out on the machines at the gym I've never managed to get much more additional strength in my arms.
We use a modified 'calf puller' to help put the roof up - it's a mechanical device that can be used to help pull calves out during difficult calvings.  Instead of pulling though we are using it in such a way that it pushes the roof up.  I'll have to take some photo's of it it action for the blog at some point so you can understand what I'm talking about.  
For those of you who don't know the camper van I've attached some photo's that help you to understand how the roof goes up. looking at it from outside.
We're still awaiting the camper coming back from the sprayer - it's already been delayed a day and we've had to put the MOT that's due on it back a day till Thursday morning now.  I really hope we can pick it up again tomorrow as time is getting very short now.
I'll be glad to get the new beds built up and the new mattresses put in place - they've been taking up a large amount of floor space downstairs for the last 6 weeks.  I managed to get some single duvet cover and pillow sets in the sort of cotton I like for 5 each in the sale - compared to about 30 odd each for their non sale ones.  Thought the colour was a bit naff (orange and purple stripes!!) at the time, but it's grown on me and will bring some colour into the camper van - a little bit of sunshine..  Also managed to get single duvets from Asda for 4 each.  We're now going to sleep in a different way to before - we used to have to make up the huge double bed each night and rearrange all the cushions etc, then take it all down again the next morning.  Now, we've made the sitting areas wider (much comfier to sit on now because of this) and I've made half sheets to cover the top part permanently, where the pillows and your shoulders go - we sleep in silk sleeping bag inners under the duvets - much easier to wash these than the duvet covers, and also the much smaller bed sheet area will be much easier to wash (perhaps I'll get round to it at some point on the trip) by hand and dry than a large sheet.  Also, in theory because I've made the sheet like a sleeve that fits on the top of the mattress you can have 4 different goes at it for sleeping on by turning it round and then putting it inside out.....
 Am in the process of taking the large pile of stuff that has gradually built up on the bedroom floor downstairs - in the process weeding out yet more stuff that I don't think I really need to take - this is about purge number 4 or 5.  They say - Take half the stuff you think you need and twice the amount of money, and all will be fine.....
Taking the camper back off was interesting - it revealed just how dented the pickup cab had got from the camper back jumping up and down (it was originally only held on by giant ratchet straps, before Roger's modifications for this trip to make it a permanent fix), and also our 'Tibet' sticker from when we drove there in the same Pickup (but with no camper back on) in 2004.  I don't suppose there are many vehicles that will have made the journey to China and back twice in their life times, even if it was by sea the first time. 
Have had some 'business' cards made up with our details on to give out to people - something we've always said we'll do, so don't have to write our details down all the tim when we meet people on our travels.  The picture on it shows Roger and me, after celebrating my birthday with James somewhere on the West African coast from memory on our way back from driving to Timbuktu and back in 2002. 


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Mum on

Great start to the blog. The bed linen looks rather you say will brighten up the interior. The business cards sound a good idea. Good Luck

Anne & David (No 22) on

Hope the trip has started out well. Have a fantastic journey and look forward to hearing all about it when next we see you. As we discussed last week, that may be Spring 2013!

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