The Last Furlong

Comments on the race of life.


It’s my birthday

Today is my birthday.

I have turned 76.

I’m never in a celebrationary mood for my birthday.

I’m more Pagan. Pagans believed a few evil spirits lurked around you at that time of aging a year. That’s why we wish each other a “happy” day – a transmogrification of bad to good!

Why else should a day, where I did nothing but get born seventy six years ago, be such an extra “happy” day?

Birthdays should be congratulationary to the mother not the child, don’t you think?

My mother and I had the same birthday day. The 27th of September. My birthday used to be more fun when we both did it together.

So today, I am wishing my mother happy birthday in memorium.

I thank her for giving me life and for keeping evil spirits away on the many birthdays we did together. Double birthdays are more fun.

And much cheaper!


Surfing the “waves”

A Furlong daughter and her family got Covid19 way back in March. We’d all been together at a family “do”. So we went into quarantine for two weeks.

The day we came out of quarantine , the country went into lockdown. Because we are old, many of our friends went into the shielded category as well. Our neighbourhood turned out to be fantastic in supporting us all emotionally and physically. Surfing the wave brought out the very best in millions of people.

Now we have a second wave.

Our neighbourhood is still fantastic. The solidarity and togetherness is still here. All the people we know waiting for various cancer ops, have had them. People with heart attacks and strokes got treated. The National Health Service is still functioning where we live. There are still habits we have to take on, like wearing masks, being in hospital alone, taking care with our family “bubbles”, spritzing stuff, washing hands, hugging in mime etc, but we have survived, more consolidated than ever before.

Here, we are good to go. We are ready for the second wave.

Not so, it seems for all the rebels. There is the cult of insurrection here in England, led by some well known people in the UK. The fury at government intrusion into our lives, the refusal to wear masks (termed “face nappies”) the yelling and vituperousness of those who simply think all this Covid-19 stuff is “just flu”, is deafening. Its embarrassing to thoughtful people. Have they lost their minds?

No, I don’t think so. I think they are in a state of denial. They might not ever have been in the front line of the first wave, when our friend’s son, a trainee doctor, filling in on the amulances in his town, was picking up a dozen cases of breathless, suffocating people a day to get them to hospital. Nor have the rebels actually nursed anyone with Covid19, nor are they sufferers of “long Covid”, that leaves damage and months of recuperating.

Such things are not their experience. The first wave never crashed over THEM.

But the first wave, here in the UK was huge. It crashed over many, many people. It’s not “just flu”. Here, in the Furlong area, we rode the wave well. It wasn’t so easy in inner cities, blocks of flats or built up areas. But even so, it seemed necessary and most people complied.

Until rebellion arrived.

I hope this second wave will be a small swell, without a wave. But unless the rebellious stop rebelling, I am wondering if Covid19 might not select them first, to the great disadvantage of all of us.

We live in interesting times.


The season of mists and mellow fruitfulness

There are no birds in our garden. Einstein, the rat that cracked the code for the rat trap, is not here. The bumblebees for whom I built a nest, now ocupied by woodmice, are nesting in some other garden.

The neighbour down the road has an obsession about rats and mice and poisons them. The other day, I came upon her pruning her hedge (thank god we have no hedge) and there, on the pavement outside her garden, lay two dead, perfect, woodmice. I stopped.

“My God,” I exclaimed loudly to Mr Furlong, “these poor lovely woodmice, no, I think I said harvest mice (but they are the same thing), have obviously been POISONED by some unscrupulous person! Fancy doing that! Who here in England would poison harvest mice?”

The poisoner in question, climbed down from her ladder and loped up the road to see what my fuss was about.

“Look”, I say, “can you believe that someone around here is killing these beautiful things?” She looks.

I say, “Aren’t they lovely?” She looks again, dubiously. “We have them at our house. You can tame them, you know. And they never come into a house, they are not house mice.”

She says, animated, “But there are RATS!!!!!!along the canal!!!!! (exclamation marks continue…..)

“Oh, yes, I see them often, but they are wild creatures. By choice, they do not wish to live with US.” Our eyes meet. I can see her disbelief.

Her killings will continue. I know about her, because I am friends with her neighbours and hear about her poisons and bone snapping traps and boasts about how many creatures she killed in one night in her garden.

There are no birds in our garden. Einstein, the rat that cracked the code for the rat trap,  is not here.

I hope they are only off in the country reaping seeds and berries in this season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.

I hope they are not visiting the bleak garden with the neat hedge at number thirty five!

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Not one, not two, but three!

In all the whoohaa of Mr Furlong having a “stroke ” that was a Complex Migraine, did I tell you about the dog’s foot?

Bass cut his main pawpad. It put him out of business for a week .

Epoxying it cost us £57.

So today we had a proper walk.

There were not one, not two, but three squirrels! Bass was delighted. He never catches them, but he always tries.

I am happy to report his foot is healed.

Mr Furlong is doing well too. But not up to chasing squirrels,



Complex neurological migraine

This post has a boring title because other people will look those words up on the Internet and they might find this post. My post on English Ivy and Stinging nettles have had thousands of views. And it pleases me they have been so helpful to other people who have found themselves in the soup so to speak.

Mr Furlong was in the soup. He had a stroke.

Our girls got him to hospital with dramatic speed, so he was still in the process whilst being admitted. He can’t remember. He was unable to speak words, think or gather any kind of wits. He vomited continually. And the pain in his head became excruciating. The hospital delivered morphine and anti vomiting medication intravenously and rushed him through a CT scan. They treated him as stroke. He remembers none of it.

But, the clincher was the MRI scan after three days. It was clear!

Mr Furlong had what is called  complex neurological migraine. A Complex Neurological Migraine. And according to my research, the inability to form speech, gather thought, and even to lose consciousness, is a sub type of it.

The migraine is accompanied by the most intense head pain.

Migraine is a fascinating research project. Migraine comes in all shapes and sizes. And still, not much is known about it. People are born with ‘migraine brains’ or not ‘migraine brains’. Migraine is a neurological disorder it seems. A disease. Complex Neurological Migraine is, well, complex!

The good part is that migraine happens, passes and leaves the sufferer unscathed unlike strokes or even TIA.

The bad part is that outwardly, Complex Neurological Migraine looks EXACTLY like a stroke or TIA, no shit! Call 999 and get to hospital because without an MRI, you will not know if its a stroke or a TIA.  Or a Complex Neurological Migraine.

And a hospital can control the pain.

Some Complex Neurological Migraines can last for days. Or pass in hours, or even minutes. But they end with pain. The pain is the thing. The inability to form words, to speak, to think, to collect your wits or see strangely is called ‘the aura’. The aura tells you PAIN is on the way.

Mr Furlong and I have a doctor’s appointment together for our guidence. But the thing every medic has said so far, is being combobulated so dramatically, as Mr Furlong was, ALWAYS requires an ambulance chop chop.

Mr Furlong was alone in hospital, no visitors because of Covid-19. That is a real shame. We could not be scared together. But now he is home. It’s wonderful. The dog is thrilled.

Me too.

And having a Complex Neurological Migraine is the very best outcome!

Some people have to live with Aphasia Migraines. They are frightening. HERE is a useful link.


Different kinds of strokes

Mr Furlong has had a stroke. He is in the stroke unit.

He had a rough time.

But I cannot understand different strokes.

I had a post partum stroke after my last baby. I was only thirty six. I also could not speak, but for different reasons. My stroke was on the right. It paralysed my muscles. There was no pain. Anything to do with muscles was affected.

Mr Furlong could not speak. His stroke is on the left. He spoke gobbledeegook. Aphasia it’s called. I once taught computers to Aphasia stroke students. Both kinds of strokes are frighteningly frustrating. But Aphasia strokes leave one able to nod yes or no. But they produce intense pain. Intense!

Why is that?

I thought the brain felt no pain?

Our children were so speedy getting Mr Furlong to hospital, that he arrived there while the stroke was still in progress. No ambulance could have done better. Mr Furlong was well morphined up on arrival and cannot remember much. Some things are not worth remenbering.

Our neighbours have been fantastic as usual. One tried to take the dog for a walk. But after a short while he refused to go any further and dragged her back home here. The dog spends long meditative moments gazing at Mr Furlongs chair. I wonder what he is thinking?

The good news is that Mr Furlong is speaking. He might come home soon. Tomorrow would be nice.

The dog and I would like that.


Stercus accidit

A new annoyance has arrived recently on my walks with the dog.

Our normal daily walk happens along a straight path, nicely tarred to grind down canine claws and make it easy to stride along without having to watch my step. If it rains, or is wet, we are not facing puddles and mud.

These benefits have been noted by others too. So, if we time it wrong, we get wild eyed cyclists attempting to break the sound barrier along the path. Or harrassed Mums and Dads with push chairs, wailing kids, grandmothers and dogs on short leads desperate to be allowed free. (All of them)

Bass and I are free of any such trammels. He runs free of me. I am free of him. And thank god my children have all grown up and both grandmothers died.

On the other hand, if we walk on the wood walk, less people go there. The path is uneven. There are fallen branches, and it’s really muddy in the wet. In a high wind, it is terrifying with the air moaning, snapping sounds and trees crashing down. It is scary in the wood. So, if we time a wood walk wrong, it can be lonely and horrible.

Fortunately, on both walks, Bass does his business deep in the bushes. I seldom have to clean up. He’s a private dog. I like that. He would never suddenly poop on the path like I have seen other dogs do.

People are usually very good at picking poop up.

Enter the horse.

As I was saying, the horse is a new annoyance.

It shits in long plops scattered for a meter or so, and it does it wilst walking along – no shame!

And the owner does not clear up the mess.

It’s a damn nuisance through the wood and on the straight path. I dont think anyone likes it. By the time we have walked through it, the rider and horse have long gone.

I suppose we’ll have to put up with it.

Stercus accidit!

Shit happens…..