It’s About Time….

How doo everyone.

Time for a catch up. Gosh, it’s been three months since I promised an update and six since I actually did one. I really will try to be more assiduous. So let’s go….

Health-wise, it’s pretty much same old same old and although the kidney stones are sort of in abeyance (I have one growing but no plans to remove), but I have been stricken with cellulitis and some nasty urine infections. I managed to shake off (not literally) my catheter and that has liberated me a little though I still have to use a conveen some of the time. My weight has sort of plateaued again and I am hovering around the 19 stone mark, which is 14 stone lighter than my heaviest, but my lymphoedema is unstable and I’m carrying some nasty fluid pouches which have meant any weight loss is being pulled back.

I’m due to see my Lymphoedema nurse on Monday and hope we can make some progress on controlling this; I have started with quite painful leg cramps as well as what looks a bit like Reynaud’s Syndrome in my hands in the cold weather. I shall have to invest in more thermals.

So what else has happened? I suppose the biggest thing is that after years of dithering, I finally took the plunge and signed up for Open University, giving myself at least £20K of student debt. I decided to do the Open degree, which is a mix and match combination of sorts. I have to choose 120 credits to get my Level One, and so chose two 30 point modules. German & Introduction to Social Sciences. I studied German at school, along with two other languages and was reasonably decent at them, but had a bad set of A-Levels, so turned my back on education. It was a decision I don’t think I regretted, but now I feel the time is right for a challenge and given that I am unlikely to return to work in the near future, I bit the bullet and took the plunge.

I’ve now completed the first assignments for each course and was pleasantly surprised to get decent marks, though I’m struggling to engage and be challenged by the Social Science course. I love the German course and have a really nice tutor who is extremely supportive. My Social Sciences tutor has a different style and I had a few problems with the deadline on the first assignment as I was unwell with cellulitis. I was unable to contact her and got myself into a bit of a state worrying I was going to have problems. I tired contacting OU Learner Support and spoke to a staff tutor who was less than helpful and rather patronising. Eventually I made contact with my own tutor and we cleared the air. She gave me the extension and I delivered the assignment on time.

That really is my only negative experience with the OU, everything else has been brilliant. I was awarded a Disability Support Grant which enabled me to have new IT equipment and furniture. Some of the software, like the mind-mapping package and a voice recorder have really helped me and I receive specially formatted books and CD’s to enable me to study.

I am now starting to think about the remainder of my first level courses, and while I intend to do the next level of German, I am not sure whether to do the next level of Social Science or try to study French, though I’ll need to go in at an intermediate level, which probably should be OK, given I studied it to A-Level.

Other news: the quiz leagues have started and I enjoy writing their questions. However, I have taken a back seat in one or two activities due to time and health pressures. My crossword blogging and some of my bridge are now on sabbatical while I ensure the OU courses and my health get back on track. I have made lots of new friends through OU and find their on-line and Facebook Groups are generally very helpful. However, I am not a big fan of publicising marks and have had to defend my feelings in those groups. I worry that some people who haven’t done as well as others may feel despondent seeing other peoples’ marks in public, me included. Some friends know them, but it isn’t something I intend to boast or brag about like some. Suffice it to say I am happy with them, and feel I could have done better.

After my summer holiday week with ECC at Laurieston was rather spoiled by being unwell, I am due to shortly have a winter week away with the group at Wasdale, so am trying to be as fit as I can for that. I have become a shadowing member of the committee of ECC, something I feel very honoured about. My FA Referee Assessing is going well and I am really enjoying helping officials with their development and progress, although it does leave me rather tired on occasion. Thanks to Bill, Eddie and Steve at the LFA for all their support as well. Have had some interesting matches this year, including a manager thumping a centre forward, a couple of mass brawls and a dismissed player wrecking a hoarding and dugout. All in the name of sport!

And the final bit of news for now? I am recording an episode of Radio 4’s Brain of Britain in ten days at the BBC Media City in Salford. It will go out in January and I’ll let you know the exact date. Unless I do badly, in which case I won’t.

As usual, I promise to try and remember to update more often. Hopefully I will but you know what happens when life gets in the way……..