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Saturday 28 February 2015


Here I am with Charlie, circa 2008.  We sometimes worked together, sharing driving and attending duties.

This particular day I was attending, which means sitting with the patient and making sure they are ok during the journey, making sure they are at ease and talking with them and sometimes introducing a little humour now and then, or just listening to them, often pouring out their tales of woe.  We were prepared for anything, literally . . . . . but this day surprised me greatly and was totally unexpected.

We arrived with a stretcher to pick up a lady patient to transfer her by ambulance to another hospital 25 miles away, a slow 45 minute journey, because this lady had a back problem and was in a lot of pain. She was due for surgery to replace four worn out discs in her spine.  Quite a dangerous procedure ~ and one incidentally my sister-in-law will undergo next year.


I saw her pretty face, attractive and smiling; marred somewhat by lines of pain, yet still framing her bright, lively green eyes and long dark raven hair.  I suppose she must have been in her mid forties and she was lying on her front, since this was the only position seeming to offer her any comfort.  Her face showed pain, anguish and worry about the surgical ordeal she was soon to face and at once I felt a surge of empathy and sympathy for her.  I started reassuring her straight away that we would make sure she got as pain free a ride as we could possibly give her, and made her laugh when I said she would have to put up with me for 45 minutes or so while Charlie drove us. 

I cannot remember this lady's name now, but on that day her voice and laugh seemed very musical and I could see she really did have a cheerful disposition, currently buried beneath her painful circumstances.  We seemed to make a connection straight away ~ you know, sometimes we can meet a perfect stranger and immediately feel at ease with them, talk with them freely and effortlessly, and genuinely like them ~ I am sure we have all felt this at times.  On this day it seemed to work both ways for us.

Charlie and I managed to transfer her to the stretcher with a few instances of pain unfortunately, but settled her on the stretcher again and wheeled her to the ambulance, still lying face down. She was looking at me with those big green eyes all the way as we talked.  I sat with her for the journey and immediately we developed a kind of bridge of understanding and after several minutes I managed not only to reassure her that I had heard about many successful surgical procedures like she would have, but also I made her laugh ~ boy did I make her laugh. It was such a delight to see her laugh like that and sometimes I had to apologise when she actually belly laughed and I could see this hurt her back a few times.  She just dismissed that with a wave of the hand, preferring to enjoy the humour.  She said she had not laughed like that for many years, and quite frankly I had not heard anyone laugh like that for a very long time. I was just telling her some funny stories and experiences I had in my job and how we 'took the Mick' out of each other sometimes. Charlie, driving at the front, told me later she was highly amused.

Then, at a stroke, her eyes filled with tears when she told me how worried she was about the forthcoming surgery and her fear that things might go wrong, and would she ever be the same again and lead a normal life.  I took her hand and asked her if she would mind if I prayed for her and her face lit up and she really welcomed it, so I did.  She said I was so understanding and approachable and took and held my hand and squeezed it several times, and thanked me for my kindness.  It was a pleasure of course and I thoroughly enjoyed my job and trying to help people.

It turned out that our daughters had the same name and were the same age, although I had a son as well.  She told me where she worked, at a doctor's practice as a receptionist in the town we were headed and she hoped to be able to resume work there some day.  I said I knew the town very well and she actually told me the road she lived, and I knew it well.

It is very strange that the ambulance job did sometimes offer opportunities to really get to know people quickly and occasionally the intensity of the situation did affect emotions in quite a powerful way.

We arrived at the hospital, and transferred her to her new bed.  It was then she turned to me and said, "Please come and see me ~ I shouldn't really be saying this, but I think I have fallen for you and it would be so sad if I never saw you again!" I was so flattered ~ she was so nice and was extremely attractive, and I must admit it did my ego no harm to hear that, whatsoever. She knew I was happily married so there was no question of anything between us.  On my way out I looked back and saw she had managed to turn round and wave to me and I noticed a tear flow from one eye but did not know whether this was a tear of pain, or a tear for me. 

To this day I still don't know why she said that to me, or what caused her to say it.  Maybe she saw a temporary relief from her plight, which clouded her judgement . .  . who knows? . . . . maybe it was the uniform . . . . :)

I did go and see her again, a few times when I was in the area, because I wanted to see if she was alright after surgery. She had her operation ok, which was a complete success.  She was transferred back to Bristol for convalescence and I saw her again during my job, transferring another patient to that hospital. It was then I said goodbye and wished her well. I have often wondered how she is and whether she managed to get back to work, whether she is happy and enjoying life ~ we often wonder these things when our job with patients is over.

Well ladies, you can put your box of tissues away now . . .  I am afraid I cannot promise you another story like that one.
Aw . . . lol

Next week ~ how a blind man was able to direct me to his home, 30 miles away, from being strapped in a wheelchair in the back of a vehicle ~ quite unbelievable, but true.

Thursday 26 February 2015


This is the third RAK week, hosted by Betsy at My Five Men.

I have had few opportunities this week for any RAK activity but fortunately I was able to do two last week, plus a little one this week.

During my Dial-a-Ride job on Monday afternoon, I noticed an elderly lady I was scheduled to pick up, not there from a bus stop near our local Post Office.  This could have meant either someone else had picked her up and not let me know or she had decided earlier that morning she was staying at home and forgot to let the office know.  We always get a little concerned when one of our passengers is missing because in a way we are responsible for them and we all care about their well-being and would hate to see them stranded somewhere. This uncertainty caused me to wonder and worry a little so I drove to her house and knocked on her door.  She was surprised to see me and said she had decided not to go out that morning and had omitted to let the office know.

She seemed genuinely appreciative of my concern and I was rewarded with a cup of tea and a piece of cake, remarking I was one of her favourite drivers.  There is nothing special about me I can assure you and I still do things which are wrong sometimes, which makes me sad ~ conversely a RAK to someone makes one feel glad.

I have been looking on-line for examples of RAKs and found some really good ones.  However, I found a truly inspirational example on you tube, which I think captures the spirit of what this is all about.  So I thought this week I would share it with you.  This guy has a heart of gold, and she is truly deserving so it worked out well for both of them.

Of course not everyone can afford to give $500 and the amount does not really matter ~ it is the thought that counts and the kindness can be given in so many non monetary ways. 

However, that $500 probably did not mean a great deal to that kind guy, but it meant so much for her.

Yes, the Lord is good, he really is, just as she said.

Now, did you all do a cartwheel after your RAK ?  . . .  lol

Link your RAK to Betsy so others can share and you can read and comment on their stories.  Press HERE to register your link at the bottom of Betsy's post.

Sunday 22 February 2015


I like to post an ambulance story from time to time ~ I have done a number of these over the years and have a lot untold. I loved my work before I retired from the service over 5 years ago.  Principally I was involved with Patient Transfer duties, taking dialysis patients to and from hospital three times a week for a four hourly session on a dialysis machine, the only thing keeping them alive as their kidneys were no longer functioning.  

Also, I worked as a two man crew, or should I say two person crew because I worked with lady personnel sometimes.  This work sometimes involved driving and sometimes attending stretcher patients, sometimes carry chair transfer or wheelchair or just helping them into the ambulance.  When I started I quickly learned to relate to patients and to make them feel at ease, to amuse them, make them laugh, be sympathetic when required, and do whatever to make them more comfortable.  I remember on day one of my employment a senior paramedic was flabbergasted at my ability to talk to patients, remarking that he knew qualified paramedics who were not able to do that.

I got to know John very well and for three years I ferried him to and fro to hospital for dialysis.  He was the nicest elderly man one could ever wish to meet ~ he was always cheerful and never complained and always thanked me for the journey.  It was really a pleasure attending him. He had difficulty walking, so the nurses and I always transferred him into his wheelchair which I wheeled up the ambulance ramp, securing it to the floor mountings before we set off.  He shared the long journey with 5 other patients living over a wide area to the south of Bristol. The journey was often very picturesque during warm summer evenings when the sun was beginning to set set over the sea ~ try to imagine just how beautiful that was. We could see for miles and miles and we could just make out the Welsh coast 12 miles away across the shimmering sea, looking across the Severn Estuary ~ a delightful sight, punctuated by rays of light coming out of fluffy white clouds against the commanding backdrop of an angry red sky.

One day I was shocked to learn from a colleague, who drives emergency vehicles that John had had a bad fall at home one night and had to be rushed to hospital as an emergency. Sandy was on duty and was shocked to see it was John. She would have been driving on blues, weaving in and out of the traffic with blue lights flashing and siren, when required.  She knew John very well too and she and her colleague got him safely to Accident and Emergency, but we learned later that John had sustained a fractured hip.

During the course of the week a colleague and I were assigned to transport John from a hospital in Bristol  to another hospital 25 miles away for surgery.  We arrived at his bedside and although he recognised Steve and I, we saw he was very distressed.  With the assistance of two very nice nurses the four of us managed to PAT slide him on a Patient Slide Board onto a stretcher and wheeled him into the ambulance.  

John was in agony and we tried our best to make his journey as smooth and pain free as we could, arriving at the hospital less than an hour later.  We wheeled him to the ward and with the help of two nurses PAT slid him into bed, which was much more state of the art than this illustration shows ~ higher and with safety sides, plus electrically controlled controlled moving mattress in various positions to assist patient comfort.  You can imagine the stretcher moved alongside at a greater height and the patient rolled with four of us at each corner moving him as gently as we could towards us, sliding the board under him and then rolling him back gently onto the board and sliding him onto the bed. Alas John was very distressed as we did this transfer, even though both his legs were strapped together using the good one as a brace to reduce movement of the injured one ~ but we had to do it.

We stayed a while talking to him and making sure he was all right and he seemed much more comfortable so we left him.

Next day we were sickened to hear that he had died during the night before they even had a chance to consider operating ~ apparently the severe shock of the fracture plus the subsequent stress had caused him to have a fatal heart attack so he did not have a chance although they tried hard to get him back.

A week later I called to see his wife to express my sincere condolences. She said he had slipped when trying to transfer from his wheelchair to his arm chair and had fallen awkwardly and thought she had heard the break.  She appreciated me calling, which was the least I could do because we had got to know each other very well over the years. 

We always miss a lost one although renal patients generally do not survive for much longer than five years.  It was always sad in such situations but in spite of the sadness sometimes I really do miss that job, which I loved.  I felt free, useful, and free to be able to help people, almost hourly.  Beside that I got a real buzz out of it.

Patient/ambulance person/ nursing staff relationships sometimes get quite close with the emotion of it all and occasionally sometimes rather unusual things happen, as I will tell you next week, when a lady patient, after just a 25 mile journey told me she had fallen in love with me  . . . . . . . 

. . . . . . now ladies, that pricked your ears up didn't it?  . . . .  but true . . . . be patient ~ you will have to wait for the story . . . . . . . . a whole week  . . . .  lol

I am honoured to receive a Post Of The Week award from Hilary at The Smitten Image ~ 27 February 2015

Thursday 19 February 2015


Welcome to the second RUK week, hosted by our own lovely Betsy at My Five Men.  The idea of Random Acts Of Kindness is to spread a little love to anyone by treating them to a gift or a service ~ Betsy suggests several ideas HERE.  Last week was very successful with an encouraging number of friends participating, showing kindnesses in a variety of ways.  At the foot of Betsy's post we are invited to link back to our own RAK post so we can read participating friends' posts, HERE.

This week I was fortunate to help two people, both during the course of my voluntary Dial-a-Ride driving, or relating to it.

The first RAK concerned an elderly lady who I took to a doctor's surgery.  She was a little late coming out from her appointment and I was getting a rather concerned the delay might mean my late arrival at a Nursing Home to pick up two people, a lady and a gent, both visiting their respective spouses.  As it turned out the lady emerged from her appointment and I helped her into the bus, explaining I would be picking up two more passengers on the way.  She held her chemist prescription and was rather concerned that she would not be able to get it to a chemist.  I said I would deliver it to a pharmacy on the way after we collected the others and to ask for it to be delivered to her.  I picked up the other passengers and then reached the chemist, leaving all three in the bus.  A very nice lady pharmacist said she could make up the prescription in just two minutes and was surprised I could remember the lady's address.  Anyway I managed to give the lady her prescription and got them all home.

My second RAK centred on a ladies hairdresser salon in town.  I had got to know two very nice ladies who owned the salon, Lizzie and Nickie. Every week I took an 85 year old lady to the salon and over the weeks and months I got to know them and we are good friends.  This week I explained about RAKs and asked how much they charged for a lady's shampoo and set and they said around £20 so I said I would like to donate that amount anonymously to pay for someone they might have in mind deserving a free hair appointment. Lizzie in particular had tears in her eyes and said she knew the exact person who could use this gesture. The lady she had in mind had drawn the short straw all through her life and in fact had a dreadful time in terms of nearly all aspects of her life and her daughter had tried to take her own life a while ago.  I was very touched when she was telling me this.

I called in the other day with baby Peter, as I do sometimes when they are not busy.  Lizzie explained that the lady was totally gob-smacked saying she could not believe anyone would do something like that for her in this day and age and it had caused her to restore her faith that there was at least some good still in this world.  Lizzie, in fact broke down crying and put her hand on my shoulder saying, "God will repay you when you get to Heaven, Ed".  I then learned that she is a believer, which gladdened my heart.

I am almost ashamed to say I did get an inner glow that I had helped someone, albeit in a small way.

Sunday 15 February 2015


Today I am pleased to announce some wonderful news, which I have had to keep secret since Christmas ~ a very difficult thing for me to do because I am so excited about it. 

In mid August I am to be a grandpa again; this time to Selina's and Matt's baby. Selina is my beautiful daughter who is a school teacher.  

Peter is son to Jonathan, Selina's younger brother by 10 years, and Lisa.  So Peter will soon have a little baby cousin.  I told him today he must look after him/her.

August will be a very special month for us because Jon and Lisa are getting married, so not only will they be husband and wife, they will be aunt and uncle, all in August.

I took all five out for a meal today so Selina could break the good news to Jon and Lisa.  They were delighted and we celebrated in style.

I have a photo of the 12 week baby scan recently taken and the medical people seem very pleased with the progress of baby bump so far.

Here he/she is no doubt planning how he/she can twiddle grandpa round his/her little finger.

Meanwhile big cousin Peter goes from strength to strength. He is walking and running so I have to be on my toes on Thursdays and Fridays, when I look after him.

Here he is, having found an interesting cupboard in the kitchen.  He immediately started a stock taking audit ~ the nosey little thing . . . lol

Ah . . . he seemed particularly interested in those tins of baked beans and handed me one, making very enthusiastic noises.  So I duly obliged and he tucked into one of his favourite meals.  So he was soon full of beans.

Earlier in the day he was seated in his high chair after breakfast.

Doesn't that melt you hearts, ladies?

Here he is giving his Fireman Sam a little cuddle. Such an affectionate little boy.  Just prior to that he tried to feed Sam with a piece of apple.

I expect my dear departed wife, Maria, is looking down from heaven with a smile.  I am sure she sprinkled a little stardust into Peter's soul, and no doubt she is having a say in making Selina's baby a little beauty as well.  Nothing but the best for Maria.

And here are the proud soon to be parents, photographed on their wedding day in September 2013  when baby bump was just a twinkle in father's eye.

I am so proud of all of them and treat Lisa just like a daughter and Matt just like a son.  Matt's mother has three grand children by Matt's two brothers and she is looking forward to her fourth, parented by our respective children.  Sadly, she lost her husband six months after I lost Maria.

Thursday 12 February 2015


Each year my good friend Betsy at My Five Men runs a Random Act Of Kindness Adventure where RAKs are posted on a Friday once a week for a month, and we are encouraged to spread a little kindness and treat someone in a special way with a little love, totally out of the blue.  It is a wonderful idea to make someone happy and brighten their day.

This year, 2015, the first RAK is scheduled for 13 Feb, followed by 20th Feb, 27th Feb and 6th March.  For examples of RAKs Betsy has listed many suggestions on her blog.  If any reader of mine would like to participate . . . see HERE for the suggestions and the instructions about linking blogs to share what we have done, to inspire each other.

Week 1
We have a saying here in England that a Friday 13th is unlucky for some, in fact at the boarding school I attended the ghost of it's founder was rumoured to haunt the school, roaming the dormitories, thus frightening all the new little boys, including myself once.

I hope this Friday 13th is a lucky one for some and it puts a smile on people's faces. 

My first Random Act Of Kindness is to an 18 year old Rumanian girl with two young children.  I am not the only one in my town helping her, there are several of us, and it is not just this week ~ it is continuous. 

Anna is a delightful young lady, likeable, intelligent and very friendly, but she is in rather difficult financial circumstances until she is able to find a job, and before she can find one she needs some education.  She is determined and trying her best to improve her life and is learning to read and write, assisted by a retired teacher who actually taught both my son and daughter.   I had lunch with the teacher today in fact.

While studying, Anna sells newspapers, called "The Big Issue", on the High Street for £2.50.  She gets up at the crack of dawn, leaves her two children with her mother, calls in and queues to buy her papers, taking a chance that she can sell them all ~ if not she loses money.  Then she faces a long journey by bus to my home town where three days a week she is out in all weathers selling her papers, and then of course she faces the journey back where her work starts again with the children.  

Several of us just give her the £2.50 so she can sell the paper to someone else ~ if we can afford it we give her more. Also people give her nappies and things for her children, including clothes and toys, and food. People like her and she usually sells out of her papers, and returns home with a little hope in her soul.  

Eventually she hopes to get a well paid job when she gains some qualifications.  I admire her immensely for her attitude and her willingness to work hard to better her life and it is a pleasure to give her something now and then when I can afford it.

Once a month our church organises a Parish Meal for widows and widowers and anyone else who wants to come along. As a widower I always attend and it is run by a very good Christian friend of mine, Pat, who also runs the residential care home where my wife used to work.  Anna is always invited to the meal and we take turns to pay for her meal.

So it is not just me showing Anna RAKs ~ several of us do so and it is on-going.

Anna shows great interest in my grandson, Peter, and I was quite touched this Christmas when she handed me a Christmas Card from her and her family.

My next RAK for week 2 will be  shown on Friday 20th February.

Please link back to Betsy HERE 
To see what she and others participating have been up to click on the links set up at the foot of her post and read the comments.