Why you shouldn’t screw your flip flops to your feet!

A pretty drastic way of ensuring that you prevent your flip-flops from falling off is to screw them on!

A pretty drastic way of ensuring that you prevent your flip-flops from falling off is to screw them on!

This week hasn’t quite turned out as planned. For one, yesterday morning I had to manually remove a No.8 (40 mm) screw from the bottom of my foot and go to hospital for a tetanus booster injection.

Reuben and Joshua have been on holiday from school since Wednesday, and as they have repeatedly asked if they could have ‘a sleepover’ a Grannie in Selkirk’s I took these three days off too and planned with my Mum to head down yesterday morning (which would also have been my Dad’s 69th birthday).

The plan was to take a leisurely drive to the Scottish Borders and then spend the day showing them a bit more of Selkirk: where I grew up, where I played, where I went to school, and also to visit my Dad’s grave and lay some flowers to mark his birthday.

I was woken around 06:20 by Reuben leaping onto my bed. “When are we going to Selkirk?!” were his first, excited words.

“After breakfast,” I replied getting out of bed.

I still had to throw a few things into a bag but first, looking out of the bedroom window into the backyard, I realised that the bin needed to go out—the paper-recycling lorry would be round soon.

After a quick detour to my study to pick up an R-kive box that I use for storing paper to be recycled we tripped downstairs and as Reuben and Joshua got comfortable at the breakfast bar I said I’d just be a minute and I headed outside into the cold, pulling on a jumper.

I also had my flip flops on. I love my flip flops. I love walking around in bare feet but I have quite flat feet and so it gets painful quite quickly. These Quicksilver flip flops have been perfect: giving my foot the cushioning they need and my arch gets the lift that it deserves. And they left me walk quite comfortably on stones, even gravel. (But not wood screws, as it turns out.)

I stepped across the stones and tipped the contents of the R-kive box into the grey wheelie bin before I started to pull it towards the gate and the main road.

I stopped. The back door was still open. I reached over and pulled it closed, only to turn around in time to see the wheelie bin tipping over and spilling half its contents into the backyard. “Oh no!” I groaned righting the bin and then getting down on my hands and knees and scooping up handfuls of scraps of paper that were now being blown around in little eddies around the yard.

I looked over at the R-kive box. Surely it would be quicker if I scooped the paper into that: less distance to travel. I stood up, stepped across the gravel and reached out for the box, sitting on top of the blue general waste bin.

“Ow!”

I stepped on something sharp; stones likely. I lifted my right foot and gave it a shake. It was common for small stones to slip beneath my foot and my flip flop. I heard a few stones fall out and click on the gravel beneath. I put my foot down and quickly lifted it again.

“OW!”

A sudden fear went through my mind: something has gone into my foot. A sharp stone? There’s a sharp stone embedded in my foot! It seems to have gone through my flip flop too.

The paper continued to blow around the enclosed backyard. I needed to clear that up first and as I couldn’t exactly walk without pain anyway I dropped to my knees with the blue and white R-kive box and crawled across the gravel to the paving stones.

I could feel the panic rising within me.

“Joshua!… JOSHUA!” I screamed. The back door was still ajar; it hadn’t closed entirely.

I frantically scooped up the paper into the box: scraps of A5 notepaper, newspapers, food packaging.

“JOSHUA!”

I pulled myself up using the bin and tipped the contents of the box into the wheelie bin once again. Joshua appeared at the door, “Yes?”

“Joshua! Get Mummy please. I need her help. I think I have a stone in my foot!”

Joshua ran off as I closed the wheelie bin lid, turned around as carefully as I could and tried to make my way into the house. The pain was excruciating now. My sense of panic was growing. I held onto what I could grab and I began to hop up the steps and in through the back door.

“Jane!” I yelled. “JANE!”

“I’m coming!” I heard her reply, sounding slightly irritated. Jane was recently diagnosed with spondylolisthesis, a back condition that has left her in a lot of pain herself. She had spent much of the night squeezed into Isaac’s bed beside him and she was struggling to get out of bed.

I collapsed onto the sofa in the kitchen as Jane arrived.

“I think I’ve stood on a sharp stone,” I said quickly. “I think it’s gone into my foot.” I was beginning to go into shock by this point. And the pain was so intense that I felt like I might pass out.

“Breathe… breathe…!” I told myself. “Slow your breathing. Deep breaths.”

Jane switched on the lights and took a closer look. “I think it’s a nail!”

“A nail?!”

“Oh, hang on… it’s a screw!”

“A SCREW?!”

It was a screw. It turns out to have been a No. 8 (40 mm) Pozidriv screw. As my colleague Steve confirmed later: those are the painful kind!

Jane couldn’t get a grip on it. “I think I may need to cut your flip flops off,” she apologised.

“Do it!” I said. I’ve watched Casualty on TV: I know how it goes.

After another failed attempt I realised that I was going to have to do it. I’ve often prided myself on such a strong grip. I didn’t realise that one day I would have to manually unscrew a No.8 from the bottom of my foot!

I sat up, took a deep breath, crossed my legs and took a closer look. I felt sick.

If a man, trapped in the mountains can saw his own arm off using a Swiss army knife, I found myself thinking, then I can remove a screw from my foot.

“Which way does it go?”

I considered at this point of sending for my Black & Decker electric screwdriver. At least it has buttons to differentiate between in and out.

I grasped the screw head tightly between by fingers and began to turn it anti-clockwise. It was coming out! It was coming out!

Just over an hour later I was sitting in a treatment room at the minor injuries unit in St Andrews community hospital having the wound washed out and getting a tetanus booster injection to my arm.

An hour because we’d phoned NHS 24 for advice and well… they promised to phone back within three hours(!) and I couldn’t wait any longer; and Jane had phoned her parents asking if she could quickly drop the boys off at theirs so that she could drive me to the hospital and her dad had insisted that they be dressed first… and they really weren’t up for playing that game. Forty-five minutes to get three dressed on a non-school day was actually pretty good going, compared with other attempts.

So the trip to Selkirk was postponed, I got my pain relief under control, and I sat with my leg up for most of the day.

Today it really hit me: I felt floored, I had no energy, I slept a lot. Tomorrow… well, I think I have an infection brewing. I’ll be phoning the doctor first thing.

Update

Friday 14 February

I have an infection in the foot. I’m not long back from the GP with a small bag full of medication:

  • 28 Flucloxacillin 500mg (4 per day)
  • 21 Ibuprofen 400mg
  • 100 Co-codamol 30/500mg

My mum recommends Listerine original for infections of the feet, but my local chemist only has mint or anti-cavity.

Party transport early warning system

Car pulls up outside our house.

What’s going on outside my front door, you ask? Well, let me show you. Ah! Right on time: here’s the party transport.

Reuben and Joshua were invited to a party taking place in Leven this morning. Our friend Helen offered to drive them there in her small bus; what her seven children teasingly refer to as ‘the loser cruiser’.

Remarkably I managed to get both boys dressed (with jumpers and shoes) in 25 minutes (could that be a record?), the birthday present was wrapped and the card was written. All we had to do now was wait.

I found myself thinking: if only there was a way that allowed me to see what was going on outside while still sitting comfortably at my study desk.

Wait a minute! I’ve got a webcam that might just… wait… it does! It stretches from my desk over to the window.

Perfect: an instant party transport early warning system.

Cycling and sleeping

Sign beside road saying: deer for 2 miles

The B940 somewhere north-east of Anstruther

After a week off from cycling (to get over a tummy bug and to attend the IWMW 2012 conference in Edinburgh) I went back out on my bike again this morning just before 06:00.

I’ve done something to my right shoulder. Probably a combination of sleeping badly on it, and being jumped on by Reuben; I’ve started calling Reuben ‘Cato‘ because he attacks me at the most inconvenient moments!

It was good to get out again. Here’s to a slowly developing discipline of early morning cycles and to getting fit again.

Afternoon

When Jane and the boys returned from church at lunchtime (I’d been to All Saints, St Andrews for the 08:00, then retired to bed) Joshua was still asleep in the car, Reuben was asleep in the living room, and Isaac asleep in his pram in the front garden.

Joshua woke first so I brought him through into the study… where he promptly fell asleep again using his cuddly dog (Copper from Disney’s The Fox and the Hound) as a pillow.

He looked so lovely and peaceful.

Joshua asleep on a chair, his head resting on a cuddly dog

Everyone needs a Copper for a pillow.

A day of highs and lows

Isaac

Isaac

Today has been quite remarkable, emotional, upsetting, beautiful and mysterious.

Isaac

Jane and I walked into the living room this morning to witness Isaac taking, what we now suspect may have been a petit mal, an absence seizure. Isaac was lying on the floor, staring into space, quite floppy, quite unresponsive but still breathing. We cuddled him until he came round after about 20-30 seconds.

He’s been fine for the rest of the day, kindly and carefully looked after by his grandparents.

At the time we’d simply assumed that was zoned out and heading off to sleep because he’d been up really early and it was around the time he would be going off to sleep anyway. Not to mention that his two older brothers were notorious for falling asleep on the living room carpet.

It was only in conversation with my Mum (retired nursing sister and midwife) on the phone this evening that she wondered whether it might be a petit mal. We’ll keep an eye on him and get him checked out at the GP on Monday morning.

Edinburgh

I then drove Jane down to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh to allow her to visit her maternal Grandma, who is really very unwell. It turned out to be a most upsetting visit. Lots of prayers and lovely, caring thoughts for Jane, her family, and wee grandma please.

Meanwhile Reuben, Joshua and I had a lovely visit to Homebase at Straiton to buy an indoor broom, which Reuben chose (it was the red one). We were there for AGES while R+J asked “What’s that?… What’s that?… We’ve got one of those, haven’t we!… Can we go upstairs now… I need the toilet!”

Thank goodness for Sainsbury’s next door. After team wees we bought a few essentials (sausage rolls, pasta, strawberries, raspberries and two LEGO Ninjago warriors for two lovely boys who were just an absolute delight to be with all day. I love them all so much.

And now the boys are in bed, although Reuben has been sick (just as Joshua was last night), and I was feeling ready to sit and weep when I wandered through to the living room to watch Andy Murray beat Marcos Baghdatis at Wimbledon. Wimble-well-done Andy! A good ending to an unusual day.

I pray that tomorrow is less dramatic but equally full of cuddles.

Lazing on a Sunday afternoon

Room 106 at The Bonham, Edinburgh

Room 106 at The Bonham, Edinburgh

On Sunday afternoon Jane and I drove to The Bonham hotel in Edinburgh and enjoyed a blissfully quiet afternoon, evening and morning in the company of one another. It was our first night away together without any children since, I think, May 2010.

The Bonham is a gorgeous hotel on Drumsheugh Gardens, a stone’s throw from St Mary’s Cathedral on Palmerston Place and overlooking the Dean Bridge. It fuses traditional with modern quite effortlessly.

We got a fabulous deal through itison.com: dinner, bed and breakfast, with unlimited movies for a bargain £140 (for one night). To give you an idea of how much we might have been saving, a Scottish cooked breakfast costs £14.00.

After booking in we climbed the stairs to the first floor, unlocked the door to room 106 and were welcomed with a bottle of champagne (or whatever the Italian equivalent is) and the TV was on showing… F1 Grand Prix. Now that’s my kind of hotel room. None of this patronising “Welcome to room 106 Mr and Mrs Saunders” nonsense message on the screen.

Dinner was utterly fabulous in the critically acclaimed Restaurant at The Bonham. I would happily eat there every night!

All in all, a wonderfully relaxing 24 hours in the company of my favourite wife, reading, watching telly and enjoying the silence.

We drove back to Anstruther yesterday afternoon just in time to pick up Reuben and Joshua from nursery, having first bought the boys a present (Star Wars lightsabers for Reuben and Joshua, and an Ikea chair for Isaac) and treated ourselves to a new kingsize mattress. (Hopefully that will help my back mend.)

Passion pens

Jane needed Reuben and Joshua to be distracted for 15 minutes on the run up to dinner this evening; they were tired and fractious and needed something to focus on.

So I invited them to sit on my desk and help me work out which pens in my desk drawer worked and which didn’t. And it all went very well. Reuben had a pile of pens and a pad of scrap paper to scribble on, and Joshua had the same.

I was helping Reuben sort out a few pens when I picked up a biro-wannabe, not a proper Bic, but a cheap imitation.

“Oh!” I exclaimed, “I hate these pens with a passion!”

Reuben tested it, it worked and so he added it to the pile of tested-and-working pens.

“I’ve got one of these,” said Joshua looking back at his pile of pens. “I’ve got a passion pen… and another… and here’s another passion pen. I’ve got lots of passion pens.”

I didn’t have the heart to throw them out after that.

Coming home to Reuben and Joshua

20110823-reubenoncarroof

When I arrived home this evening Reuben wanted ‘up’. Initially ‘up’ into my arms but then ‘up’ onto the car roof. Who was I to deny his wishes?

I think every car needs a Reuben Roof Accessory™. It would certainly prevent you from speeding!

20110823-joshuaphotographer

Fast forward twenty minutes and both Reuben and Joshua were on my desk with a camera each. Thank goodness for digital cameras: I hate to think how many 35mm films we’d have gone through by now!

They love taking photos, and I love taking photos of them taking photos.

I love coming home in the evenings to Reuben, Joshua and Isaac (who was already in bed when we were messing about with the cameras).