2015: My year in Review

The year didn’t start off very well. We had to have our Yorkshire Terrier Leonie put to sleep on the 7th of January as she had snapped her right back leg.

Friends kindly gave me a UPS to use. This was a big help with all the power cuts that were taking place in January. It was a great relief to be able to keep working on my computer despite the power being off.

One of the good points for this year was that my mom has been able to go on three 5 day holidays. One in late July, another in the middle of August and the third one in the first half of September. These were her first real holidays in over a decade!

Thankfully my health has been very good this year. Frustratingly, at the end of July, the second carer which we had trained, who was extremely good, decided to leave. As those of you who know me, winter isn’t a very good time of year for me energy wise. Thankfully I got through it without any illness.

The only thing I can say from a negative point of view is on the 14th July, my friend was replacing the rail on my sliding door in my room. To replace the rail he had to take the door off. In the process of doing that, he had the door balanced against the wall in an upright position to cover the doorway as it was Winter and he wanted to keep the cold air out. While he was outside, a gust of wind pushed the door over and it came crashing down on the wheelchair handles behind me, which caused it to bounce up and hit me on the left shoulder blade. As you can imagine it was extremely painful. Thankfully when the door initially hit the wheelchair handles, it knocked me over. If it hadn’t done that, the solid wooden door would have hit me directly on the head. It took almost a month for the bruises on my shoulder blade and shoulder to go away. Thankfully, my friend finished the job and replaced the rail on the door so it opens a lot easier now.

As some of you will know, I have done many online courses. This year I focused primarily on two. On edX I did two courses from MIT. First one was ‘Introduction to Computer Science and Programming in Python’ which I did from mid-June until the end of August. The second course was ‘Introduction to Computational Thinking and Data Science’, which I did from mid-October to mid-December. Both these courses had an enormous workload so thankfully a friend helped me with a large amount, particularly on the assignments. He did some of the work and a lot of the explaining, because I would never have coped with the large assignment work load. So I am very thankful that he helped me get through those courses and in the process, which was the main thing, greatly improved my understanding particularly in the second course on computational thinking issues.

In May someone gave me a 500Gb solid state hybrid drive. In late August, a friend very graciously bought me a new video card for my computer. This has been a huge help considering that my old one was almost 5 years old.

Those who visit me will know that I spend far too much time playing games and watching a great many TV episodes. So I’ll briefly mention the games I have played this year. Dead Space 3, which I said to myself at the time, ‘this is the last time I’m playing it through’ – time will tell. Those of you know me will know that I love the Mass Effect Franchise. Unsurprisingly I have played Mass Effect 2 and 3 through several times this year, largely playing as a sentinel. I have spent on average 2 hours of each day playing Command and Conquer: Tiberium Alliances. I have made many friends through this game.

As for TV episodes, I have watched far too many to mention, so I’ll just name a few shows that I like. I am a science fiction fan so I’ll start there.

  • Fox had Minority Report, I enjoyed it, but Fox has now cancelled it.
  • NBC has Blindspot which is still in the first season, currently on a break.
  • Amazon had The Man in the High Castle which is a view of what would have happened if the Axis powers had won World War 2 – it has been quite interesting to watch so far.

I don’t watch many movies, but here are the ones I did watch this year. I’ve watched ‘Atlas Shrugged’ Trilogy based on the books by Ayn Rand. I’ve also watched ‘Divergent’ and ‘Insurgent’, based on the books by Veronica Roth. I have also enjoyed ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’.

I spent a lot of time this year viewing, reading and listening to resources from Desiring God. I particularly enjoyed their LABS (Look at the book bible study with the focus being on the text, not the person speaking).

As I’ve mentioned already, I spend a lot of time watching TV episodes this year and played games. With all this it is very easy for life to become tedious and monotonous, and then I am constantly reminded but for my hope in the Lord Jesus, I would have nothing to live for. And it is this hope that keeps me going through all the pain, difficulty, frustration and loneliness. I am thankful for the Lord calling and sustaining and guiding my life.

Throughout this year many bible verses have come to mind at various times. One of them is Job 19:25. I have also been reminded this year of the book of Habakkuk (particularly Habakkuk 3:16-18), largely due to our unstable political climate in South Africa that God does not need a financially or politically successful country for his people. This is difficult to say and think about, but scripture is very clear. In this life you will have trouble, Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33). One song says, ‘Earth has no sorrow That heaven can’t heal’. One of the other verses that comes to mind is from Lamentations 3:22-24. The chorus for the hymn Great is Thy faithfulness, says:

“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!

Lastly, thank you to all those who visited me regularly throughout the year. And thank you to those who helped me financially, without your help covering my care needs would not have been possible.

2014 Review

I was supposed to do this entry to coincidence with one year in our new house. But as you can see it is 2 months late.

On the 7th of January we had to have Leoni our dog put down. She broke her right back leg.

Now to try and continue where I ended last blog entry.

My helper came back to work in September. To be honest since then it has been a living nightmare. She constantly forgets, doesn’t concentrate. Is more focused on home time and money. I am just a means to a financial end. If the one that covered for her when she was pregnant wasn’t related to her, she’d been fired already. So yes I am looking for a replacement with the much needed empathy and compassion required to be a care giver. The good carer helps on the weekends. We’d love to have her full time, but she works elsewhere in the week and the other issue of being related to current helper.

As I mentioned in the previous entry winter wasn’t going to be fun. Well it was not, I was cold a lot even with my aircon. The problem was largely caused by the passage to the bathroom off my room. Towards the end of winter we finally solved the problem by putting a curtain over the entrance to the passage.

I continue to play Command & Conquer Tiberium Alliances.

I have been working on a new skin for a forum of which I am a member. It is a IPB version 2 forum. So it’s a lot of work to design a responsive skin since most of the html is 10 years old.

Some people have suggested to me that I consider writing about my life. I have been thinking about how I would do that, considering it will have to be dictated and then someone would have to transcribe it.

With all the power cuts towards the end of last year and at the start of this year. Friends gave me a ups which they weren’t using. It is able to run my pc for 8 hours. As well as protecting my pc from power spikes. It has been a tremendous help.

Lastly I should add, my physical condition has worsened in the last year. Needing full-time help at night isn’t far off. I sleep on my back and left side, turning onto my left side has become increasingly difficult. So we’re currently thinking about how a night time caregiver might work and how that would affect the help I need in the daytime. We had a trial run on Easter Saturday night, it went well. But the usual problems of who and how to pay are probably going to block doing anything about this.

First four months in Howick

It was a very first difficult month, my room is really small. Making it difficult to find a suitable position for the wheelchair when helping me. I got a new 3/4 bed on Tuesday (13 May), my double bed just took up too much space.

Also the basin is far too low for me, which means I need more help.

Not to mention having to shower now, since there is no bath. It takes hours for my body temperature to normalise after showering.

I finally got Adsl on 19 March. So I had to use 3G for six weeks.  The connection was fast usually in 10-14Mb range, but I only had 20Gb for the month.

And to top it off, we waited until early May for the buyer of our house to pay transfer! 13 weeks after we moved. The first we knew about a problem with the transfer was 4 February, 4 days after we moved! So we have to ask the question, why did the lawyers doing the transfer wait till then to inform us. Considering most people pay transfer up to 6 weeks before occupation date. We’re still waiting for the buyer to pay the occupational rent owed.

For the first two weeks our dog kept my mom awake at night.

Frustratingly, as we suspected all along, it was confirmed in mid April that my helper is pregnant, despite all the denials! Which as most of you will probably realise is a major problem for us. My helper brought someone else and spent the last two weeks of April attempting to train her. Now that she’s on maternity leave, we saw how poor a attempt she made. My mom and I are having to slowly train her. Which is a frustrating mentally draining, repetitive task. By the third week she was virtually trained. The replacement has done a far better job and has shown how badly my helper was doing the job! We heard today (1 June) my helper had a baby girl yesterday.

Winter isn’t going to be much fun for me, even with an aircon. My room is a thoroughfare and my door is left open far too often. Even now in early May the temperature change has been difficult.

The move has helped the stress levels in some areas. But the additional things I need help with (mentioned above), have increased the strain on my mom.

2013 News

It’s been a long time since I posted. Since I made the choice as far as possible not to focus on the negative aspects in my circumstances.

Johan, my stepfather died in March. As a result of this and several other factors my mom has sold our house. We will be moving to Amberfield (Howick, KZN) in the new year. The unit is much smaller so we’re downsizing a lot, selling a lot of stuff, mostly for way less than they’re worth. Moving to Amberfield isn’t my ideal choice, but with my care needs, I have no other option.

Late last year I was sponsored a new wheelchair and Roho cushion by the Muscular Dystrophy Foundation. Unfortunately, I couldn’t adjust to the chair. Recently someone from CE Mobility came to see me, and after evaluating me has made suggestions for customizing the chair, which should hopefully make it more suitable.

This year a pastor from my local church has been doing bible study with me. It’s been a tremendous help since I went many years without meaningful group study.

One of the biggest issues for me with moving will be, what internet connection can I get in Howick? Amberfield doesn’t allow residents to have lines laid for Adsl. At present the options don’t look very good, slow, over priced, low usage, wireless options. I am still hoping a solution can be found. But whatever I’m able to get, I’ll probably need help paying for it.

I have done a few online courses in the last year. With the two I enjoyed the most being, Introduction to Systematic Program Design – Part 1 on Coursera Introduction to systematic program design & Metadata: Organizing and Discovering Information.

As I’ve mentioned in other posts in the past, I’m trying to bring my lecture notes from KMBC into the 21st century (font, formatting and style wise). But it is a larger job than I initially realised, it’s hundreds of lectures, far too many to do manually. So I’m slowly working on an automated system, it’s taking longer than I hoped. I’ll have to do a separate post on the technical problems I have to solve to successfully complete this.

I’ve spent a lot of time playing Command & Conquer: Tiberium Alliances this year.

And as those who visit me know, I’ve watched a lot of tv episodes this year.