Cocooning

I was wrong last week. ‘Social distancing’ is not going to be the 2020 word of the year. It’s going to be ‘cocooning’. I had to look it up and learned that it was first used in 1981 by no other than Faith Popcorn. (I mean, if your surname is ‘popcorn’ which responsible parent would call you ‘faith’? And then you invent ‘cocooning’ working as a trend forecaster…)

Pádraig is fine, was it not for his femor/hip and the muscle(s) not holding the two together tightly and in place. And the helpless feeling of not knowing if there is anything we could do to help him getting better.

This is not the only problem we have come across since his accident where I thought “this must have happened to other people before, there must be someone with the knowledge and experience to tell us what to do” and then there wasn’t. So he keeps exercising and we keep trying our best to help him. We keep learning and we hope that the hip will get better again.

We are so happy to be together. The weather is getting warmer and Pádraig sits out in the garden almost every day, on sunnier days with an ice cream, listening and contributing to our chats. With summer time starting today, there will be a noticeable longer stretch in the evenings.

I miss the whole family being together and each time one of Pádraig’s siblings calls in, keeping their distance, it’s really nice though necessarily short. About once a week, his friends have what used to be called a videoconference and Pádraig really enjoys taking part in that, helped by one of his sisters. It’s now called ‘Houseparty’ and it’s a ‘group video chat’ by a company called ‘Life on Air Inc.’ I’ve seen it working a little and from a distance, but mostly hear the laughter and animated conversations from somewhere else in the house.

During the week, we tried out what 8D music sounds like. If you haven’t already, try it on Spotify or whatever you use for music, best with headphones. It’s amazing. A bit like 1975 Bohemian Rhapsody on steroids.

We still have to ask Pádraig for his opinion, we’re still trying to find ways for him to take the initiative to intervene – though I wonder whether we are always attentive enough to notice when he (undoubtedly) does.

Pádraig’s carers are thankfully still supporting him and us, being very responsible and diligent about keeping their distance from groups, washing their hand, and following all the other guidelines.


So if ‘cocooning’ was invented in 1981 why do I think it will become the 2020 word of the year?

Because in 1981 it described an action, an attitude, something people chose to disconnect from the crazy world around them, it was something nice and cosy.

Today, it’s a government restriction imposed on the over 70s and the vulnerable “living in their own home, with or without additional support or in long-term residential facilities”, officially since last Friday, but effectively in operation since at least the previous week.

It’s not cocooning, nice’n cosy and by choice.

If you’re over 70, or if you had a severe Acquired Brain Injury, or if you are living in a nursing home, you can’t go out nor should you have visitors. You might find it hard to understand why all of a sudden life around you has come to a complete standstill.

Luckily, I am still under 70. So I went out for a walk in this new quiet, unpolluted, isolated world early this morning. My imagination took me away.

I woke up and heard my mate calling me from a distance
so far that I had forgotten it existed.
It was bright but the cars below our nest
were parked and silent.
It was day but the city was asleep.`
What had happened?

I swam up the river and saw all its turns in the distance
so far that I had forgotten it existed.
The light was shining right down to the river bed
through the clear unpolluted water.
No plastic bags, no industrial waste.
What had happened?

I looked out the port hole and saw the earth’s cities in the distance,
so many more than I had remembered existed.
The clear atmosphere revealing the Earth again
as Major Tom had seen it first.
Smog was lifting, the oceans blue again
What had happened?

Rays of light made its way through the tiny window in my room
so little that I could just make out its deserted outline.
My fingers can’t press the button.
My voice is silent.
Is anybody out there to be with me, to explain
What has happened?

What’s another year?

How is Pádraig doing?

Life goes on. He is trying to keep a work-life balance. ‘Work’ being a good rehabilitation programme, ‘Life’ being a good time with family, neighbours and friends.

Pádraig went to a therapy centre in Lindlar/Germany specialising in Speech and Language therapy for some weeks a bit more than a year ago. His rehab programme has continued at home and, since January, in An Saol’s Day Rehabilitation Centre, in the company of other families, supported by a team of enthusiastic therapists, new and familiar ones. He has continued to travel and went to several places around Europe. His friends are visiting and he goes out to meet them. He has been at parties, walks, and some truly amazing fundraisers.

Life has been full of surprises. Some good, some pretty challenging. Most of incredible intensity. I try to learn from all of them.


One day, many years ago, Pádraig asked me to promise him not to never ever tell any of my jokes again, at least not in front of other people, especially not his friends.

I am on my own here, nobody is listening. And, strictly speaking, it’s not even my joke.

It’s an old Jewish joke about Man making plans and God laughing. Like any good jokes, it’s short.

It connects well with a psychological condition described for the first time in the 1970s by Ellen Langer, a researcher at the University of California. Where else and no better time than the 70s.

We all make plans. And not just that. We believe that they will work out as long as we just try hard enough. When our plans by chance then work out it reinforces the illusion that we are in control. It’s what we believe makes up a “happy, fulfilled life”.

Sister Stan and Fr Peter McVerry said last week in separate interviews on Radio One that the current situation demonstrated how fragile our world is. That we now have a chance to re-adjust our views on ‘return on investment’, on growth. On the destruction of our environment, our social fabric and our relationships. That it is wonderful to see how people rally and care for each other. That we are learning how to handle situations today which yesterday we thought we couldn’t even face.

“Social Distancing” is going to be the 2020 Phrase of the Year.

“We are all in this together” is going to be the Lesson of 2020.

When this is over, we’ll all be living in a different world.

Traveling

It hasn’t been my day.This morning, when I was on my way back to Lindlar a car pulled out of a side street and crashed into me. The brand new Opel Adam I had rented got a big dent in the front and I got a big fright. Luckily, no-one got hurt and I was able to drive the car to the nearest rental station. My family then gave me a lift to a train station from where I got a direct train to the airport. No Lindlar today. I took a direct train to the airport because nowadays it is risky to rely on connections when traveling with Deutsche Bahn. For the day that was in it, I shouldn’t have been surprised that the train broke down just 10 minutes out of the airport, we all had to wait and then change over to a different train.

Image result for traveling

I’m now sitting in the airport waiting or the plane to take off in about an hour and a half. I don’t want to think about it too much but I’m wondering what’ll happen next.

Even if everything goes right tonight, I’ll be landing in Dublin just before midnight.

Knowing I’ll be traveling with Ryanair, anything is possible. Nothing will surprise me.

Coins

This is a classic. A sign on a coffee machine in Germany advising potential purchasers of different types of coffee to use ‘no coins (keine Münzen), only (nur) coins’.

After a short period of confusion, I realised that ‘coins’ in this case didn’t mean ‘coins’ but ‘token’. There is a name for this linguistic phenomenon, you could call it ‘over-translating’ or maybe ‘adapting a foreign word incorrectly’, but I can’t think about it. For reasons known only to themselves, they did not want to use the perfectly adequate word ‘Wertmarke’ and looked for a cool, short, English alternative – and picked the wrong one.

You might have guessed – I am in Germany today visiting a therapy centre I had heard about an awful lot from many people. All telling me that Lindlar was the place to go for Speech and Language Therapy (SALT or SLT). Pádraig is now at a stage where he desperately needs to find ways to communicate in a much more efficient way and where he needs to develop his voice.

And guess what?

The HSE-employed SLTs who had treated him on and off have been off for close to three quarters of a year, I’d say. The last SLT working with him is now on maternity leave with no replacement or cover in sight.

We have been trying extremely hard to find an SLT but all of our best efforts have been frustrated by what amounts to a denial of service. SLTs in both the voluntary and the professional sectors have told us that they cannot treat Pádraig. Isn’t that absolutely amazing, incredible and shocking?

The meeting today in Lindlar was really promising and I hope to meet up with a family tomorrow who I got to know a little and whose son has been treated in the centre for several years.

I spent tonight with my German family. We had a really good night together with good company and good conversation, something to be really grateful for.

Robert – Roger – Romeo

This is of no particular interest, really, but it is a curious, even a bit quirky story.

Using words to represent letters of the alphabet when communicating using bad quality radio communication.

Image result for roger that

The letter ‘R’ is used to acknowledge that a message has been received.

While the British tried to push ‘Robert’, it was the U.S. who pushed ‘Roger’ and succeded – and who established the phrase ‘Roger that’ to acknowledge the receipt of a radio message.

Then, in the 1950s, NATO standardised the words used to represent the alphabet and ‘Roger’ became ‘Romeo’.

But, ‘Romeo that’ doesn’t really work for some reason, wouldn’t you agree?

So what is it that makes us stick to old habits?

Happy 2019!

Noteworthy

Just watched a completely pointless movie on Netflix. Close to 100 minutes of the New Year down the drain. But then, not everything needs an apparent purpose. In fact, at times it’s the stuff that doesn’t seem to have an apparent purpose that turns out to be the most valuable.

Here I am trying to write down something worth noting. Whether I did watch a movie or not, and whether it was a movie worth watching, and whether or not it’s stuff that seems to have an apparent purpose eventually turns out to have a deeper than just the ‘apparent’ purpose…. who cares.

What about Pádraig’s day? My day?

Busy: with PA’s and his physio back in action, and a relaxing massage by a very kind and friendly neighbour. Great food. A nap. A walk in the park. Nearly an hour on the MOTOMed. At the end of one of these days, we’re all pretty exhausted. A day that starts before 6am, doesn’t finish in the evening but continues through the night, though much more relaxed.

Anything noteworthy? Not really. A bit like that movie I watched.

eNergised

If I can do this, I can do anything. I couldn’t believe how energised I felt this morning after a very good friend of mine and I had got out of the sea after a (*very* short) swim at the 40 foot. It was brilliant.

In the meantime, Pádraig discovered a new exercise: stretching out his leg and rotating his foot to the rhythm of the music.

My New Year resolution is to do this every day: getting up early. Energised.

His is to share his strength with us.

We’re ready for the Dreamboat.

When no one will be left behind

Just before the year ends and the new one begins, I want to thank you, also and especially on behalf of Pádraig, for your support in the past year and wish you all the best for the New Year. It’ll be a magic one. One when the Dreamboat will go down that stream, despite any obstacles that might be in its way, with thousands of Dreamboaters joining from around the world helping us with their energy and love to move it along to where there is justice and inclusion, not leaving anybody behind.

Resolution

I’ve started to think in New Year’s resolutions. There is the usual stuff: get more regular sleep, exercise regularly, eat well, be kind to people. But I wonder: isn’t there anything new? Something I haven’t tried before? I’ll keep thinking. And let me know if you can think of a good resolution that’s a bit out of the ordinary…

Would you have any good or strange New Year’s resolutions?

Pádraig has become much more active. There has been a pronounced change in his movement. He doesn’t sit still in his chair anymore. He also moves around in his bed. Both for himself and for us this is something quite new and something we will have to learn about. It’ll require a big chance in mind for everybody dealing and being with Pádraig.

s