Monday, 31 December 2012

Don't know if I'd class this as an adventure

On Friday quite out the blue I received a call from the University Hospital Durham from one of the consultants secretaries. She informed me an appointment had been made for me to see a surgical consultant on Ward 13 Surgical Admissions at 13:00. At first I didn't know who it was or what she was talking about, it wasn't until she mentioned my haematology doctor (Dr Keenan) that I sort of put two and two together.

So after finishing my voluntary work early at the RVI (12.00pm) and getting picked up by Ern (my dad), we headed off too Durham and the University Hospital.

On arriving at the hospital and getting up on the second floor and the ward, we didn't have too long to wait until I saw the consultant, Mr Baine. He gave me a quick once over and then hurried me down a corridor explaining, he was going to get to work on the large node I have in my left groin area, saying I was to come in on Wednesday and he would "chop it out". 

Mr Baine didn't come across as your usual consultant surgeon, he was quirky and I found him quite funny. I like his straight to the point way of going about things.

So what a brilliant start to 2013 huh? Two days into the New Year and here I am having more bits removed. Granted it's just another node and not a leg lol.  It will be similar surgery to the biopsy I had on my stomach in 2009 I guess.

Once the nodes out they will investigate it and I'll have to wait for more results to see what happens next.

So as soon as I know I'll up date everyone... This is all very weird to me as I'm still not entirely sure what Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma is, how I'm supposed to feel or what I'm supposed to do. Really I'm just trying to stay positive and go with the flow.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Christams Bimble, from Craster to Alnmouth and back.

I met up with Bruce (Coastkid) & Si (Doc) yesterday at Craster. Craster is situated on the cost of Northumberland to the north east of Alnwick, it's around 52 miles from where I live and roughly a hour and a half's drive away. Bruce had brought his Surly Moonlander equipped with 4.7 Surly Big Fat Larry's, whilst Si was on his Surly Pugsley equipped with 3.8 Nates which offered a lot more grip.

Weather wise the day wasn't too bad, which was surprising as according to the radio on my drive up it was supposed to be very windy and wet.

The coast line was beautiful, with some smashing trails (though the majority of trails where really hard going as they where so thick with mud). I found myself falling off a couple of times as I just had no grip and my bike slid away from under me.

I really enjoyed the ride out and back though did feel a bit guilty as both Bruce and Si had to keep waiting for me to catch up. I'm just not as fit and find some of the terrain difficult to ride. On a positive note I did manage to ride on some stuff I've never really ridden on before without getting off my bike, which is pretty scary when your clipped in and only have one leg. Stuff like slippery rocks and stretches of pebble strewn beach.

When we arrived in Alnmouth we managed to find a lovely hotel/restaurant type place, don't remember the name. Bruce, Si and myself put in an order for 3 fish and chips and Bruce and Si also got a nice refreshing bottle of Crabbies. We decided to take our meal to go, even though the lady behind the bar was very kind and said we could sit in in our muddy gear. Once outside we realised the wind was getting up and we were starting to cool off, so we took shelter in the back of the restaurant which was deserted.

One of the ales on sale in the hotel
 It was then a case of riding back to Craster, the light was starting to fade and the tide had come in so riding back along the same route wasn't possible. We followed the coastline as much as possible, using coastal trails and only really popping onto the tarmac roads on a couple of occasions to get back to the Quarry car park in Craster. At the car park was a mobile kitchen so we had a nice hot drink before saying our goodbyes.

When I got home it was a case of a hot shower and I was so worn out I went straight to bed. Don't know but over the past few months I just haven't had much energy and I can't shake this bothersome cough.

Today I decided to checkout the GoPro footage I had taken and was most disappointed in that it came out absolutely terrible. I think I need to change the settings on my GoPro as everything came out with way too much "Fish Eye", so much so the whole coastline appeared distorted and I hardly got any footage of either Bruce or Si. I think my camera needs lifting slightly on my helmet. Of course it could also have been that the majority of the time I had my head down checking to see where I was going or puffing and blowing to get along a trail/beach lol.
Looking out towards the sea
I've been trying to find software that's free/easy to use to remove the "Fish Eye" effect and also at replacement lenses for my GoPro HD2.

Settings wise I think I'll try 1080 - 25fps and either medium 127deg or narrow 90 deg for my next shoot see how that comes out.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

My kids bought me a scary mask for Xmas, as if i'm not scary enough...LoL

When asked what I wanted for Christmas from my daughter and son I immediately said "Oh I'd like another bike please" obviously as they didn't have a spare £3000 I was asked would I not prefer something a little less expensive, maybe more Lynx...I use Lynx but it never seems to have the desired effect, so not much point building one of those huge boats to sail away with all the honeys now is there.

Anyhoo whilst window shopping (on the pc of course, also known as surfing) I came across these cool face masks called "AirHole" with some neat designs. 

Thought one may make a nice Christmas prezzie so put my order in with the kids. I went for the design named "Bones"

Hey maybe I'll have more luck with the mask than I do with Lynx ...Lmao :D

Checkout this cool video on Vimeo...

Decided to Re- edit yesterdays video

I was a bit bored today so decided to get up and wash my bike and  re-edit the video I took yesterday and re-upload it.

Whilst messing around with some song choices I also came up with an idea for another small movie I'd like to shoot so going to wait until the weather is a bit better and have a go at that, which should be fun.

As I've been working in Newcastle at the Royal Victoria Infirmary I've gotten to see a bit more of the "TooN" and have a nice idea for a short shoot to some rather cool music from a film I'm sure you will all have either seen or heard about, so watch this space. 

Anyhoo here is the new version of my video. If anyone has any tips or tricks on how I can make any future films I do more interesting then please feel free to offer advice. 

The Bartlett Tendon - Settings

I've now been using my new Bartlett Tendon for a good few weeks now so thought I'd write a little more on how things are going.

 Also add a little bit about some of the settings which I got from Brian Bartlett the knees designer.

Well first off I have to say this knee is amazing...No I'm not just saying that as I'm sponsored on the unit. Brian always requests that I be honest with him when trying out his designs as this feedback then goes on to help improve on future models. The knee is amazing in what it allows you to do as an above knee amputee. I'm now trialling the new "cam" top end on my knee and have found things have just got even better.

A lot of time and hard work has gone into making the knee work and feel something like a leg someone has lost. By work and feel I mean in it's action. With the new "cam" the movement is now smoother, with a more progressive feel (the further you flex the knee the more resistance can be felt). Instead of using a combo of hard and soft tendons, you can now leave the 2 soft tendons in place and choose how much resistance you would like by removing the "cam" locking pins and placing them in positions 1 to 3 on each "cam". Or even leaving the locking pin out completely giving you the least amount of resistance.

Here's an idea of the settings... 

The new knee is basically the same knee but with a cam instead of a wheel for the Tendons.  This will give you a softer engagement feel  to the start of your knee bend but start to ramp up into a stiffer feel towards the deeper part of the bend in the knee, this feel is also adjustable as you have four positions on each side of the knee to adjust the cam into. 
Here is how it works: As described by Brian Bartlett the designer of the Bartlett Tendon.
Position 1)  No locking pin inserted leaves the cam in the least amount of flex for the tendon and does not engage the tendon as you flex the knee because you have disengaged the locking pin; great position for road riding, snorkeling/ diving or just about anything you want to have as little tension as you can but still have something there in the end.
Position 2)  Top hole engaged with locking pin inserted will give you cam engagement into the tendon as the knee bends but not a lot of cam effect as for sports or applications you want to have some more tension but not enough to work against you; sports like XC skiing, road biking, XC mountain biking, SUP and any others that feel good to the users.
Position 3)  Middle hole in the cam engaged by locking pin inserted allowing the cam to come into the tendon more putting more pressure against it giving the user a stiffer feel at the deeper part of the knee bend;  I like this position for XC mountain biking as I have my seat up high in that application and the stiffness comes on right where I want it to as I am biking in about the 90 degree knee bend position as if I had my seat lower on the bike it might be a tad to much tension; again a lot of the same sports can apply here just depending on the users preference due to limb length and tension desired for application; Alpine skiing, snow boarding, Ice hockey, etc.
Position 4)  Bottom hole in the cam engaged by locking pin inserted will give you the most cam effect of Tendon tension as the knee bends moving the cam into the tendon, this will be great for DH riding, motocross, things where you want to really bend into the knee with a lot of pressure in the bottom half of the bend.
Here is the kicker though because you get an incredible feel to all these adjustments in the cam but these have all been tested with no air in the shock in which you'll find by just adjusting the shock a bit gives you even more tension if desired.  The next part is also that the cam is adjustable independently on each side allowing a user to adjust the cam on the right side say to hole position four and then on the left side put the cam into hole position 2 which gives a combination of tension that gives you the most natural feel for that have more than twenty different ways to configure this cam for a desired cam effect.....crazy huh.
Also if you change the stop bushing diameter this will adjust the cam feel also as the knee will come back further in its neutral position as I like the big(15 degree) bushing in when I am utilizing the knee.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Christmas day out in the mud

Hey Merry Christmas and a very Happy New year to you all...

Since we lost my mom in 2002 we haven't really celebrated Christmas as it's kind of lost it's magic. So today I thought rather than stay in and watch more Christmas re-runs or the Queens speech I would instead head out on my bike for a while.

Yeah the weather wasn't great, but hey riding muddy trails is half the fun.

I got soaked today, yet again and found it increasingly difficult to get my winter gloves back on each time I took them off to mess with my camera, they were so wet and what with them having a double liner they got all bunched up in the fingers. Inevitably I ended up ripping the inner liners so binned them when I got home, oh dear.

I think my Canon camera is suffering because of the wet weather, can't blame the camera as it's not a water proof model, so again struggled for any shots at all.

Apart from this one...

Put together a video of today's riding...

Saturday, 22 December 2012

WoW it was soaking wet today

Set off for a early morning ride this morning with my son Kyle. Although it was raining it didn't feel particularly cold. I decided to treat Kyle to a KFC so we headed up to Consett.

As you would expect the trails were pretty wet and muddy,we had a really enjoyable ride up to KFC. Once inside the restaurant we grabbed a couple of seats and a table near the entrance/exit so that we could keep an eye on our bikes and went over to order our meals. Mmmm delicious.

After we had finished we decided to set off back home, the weather had turned decidedly worse, the wind was getting up and it was lashing down. After we had both been in doors it was freezing to come back out into the cold rain and wind...Brrrrr!!!

On the way home we tried to get a few snaps, this proved to be rather difficult as my camera was keep getting soaked and here when I've actually looked at the images the majority are blurry (water on the lense I think).

Did manage to get a few as you can see, not the best quality.

As we neared home I decide to take a slight detour and we headed off down through South Moor park. It was really funny trying to take pics here as we were both so cold we couldn't operate the camera, hence no pictures.

Got in and soaked to the skin, so everything in the washer and try to get warm. It was kind of weird as just as we were coming over the playing field near the "pines" a we call it I said to Kyle I'm freezing everywhere except in my foot (The one I haven't got). Now I know this sounds like "well yeah obviously your foot or leg you don't have isn't going to be cold,as it's missing", but No I can actually still feel my amputated foot and it felt lovely and toasty warm,so bonus at least I wasn't all chilled through lol.

Like I say got in and I decided to checkout my images. I noticed my camera was feeling a little "gritty" on the scroll wheel, where the menu button is. So thought I'd take the camera apart and have a go at giving it a clean out. I got the camera apart no probs and was checking out the scroll wheel. I thought "Oh I'll just give it a little blow to dry it out, maybe remove some grit or debri" and the bloody wheel flew off and landed on the floor under my computer desk. I picked it up and went to pop it back in place and this is when I noticed the darn menu button wasn't there. So my dad, Kyle and myself have been on the better part of like 2 hours trying to find the missing button in my room, without success I may add. My dad reckons the Borrowers have nicked it the thieving little bastards. So now my camera is knackered.... awww great. Hopefully I can get it fixed, otherwise it's an expensive new year if I have to buy a camera of similar quality.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Not a bad day, so thought I'd head out

Got up this morning, had a quick look out my bedroom window and thought "hey it doesn't look like a bad day I think I'll head out for a ride".

Rummaged through my wardrobe and decided to go for my thick Endura legging (yes I only need one) and my thick Troy Lee shorts, thought if I did encounter any muddy/wet spots they would give me a bit more protection. Then it was just a case of popping on a few base layer tops and my Altura Jersey, finishing of with my RaceFace water proof jacket, oh and my Endura winter gloves and my trusty Buff. Love my Buff as it keeps me from getting ear and toothache when it's cold out.

Popped a couple of bananas and an apple in my Camelbak, filled up my water reservoir oh and slipped my camera in my bag. I was then good to go.

I wasn't entirely sure where I was heading so just decided to ride and see where I ended up. So it was left at the bottom of my street and I headed along towards the Farmer's Fields/trail. I had to stop at the bottom of the trail as the gate was closed and manoeuvre around a rather large frozen puddle. I thought when I first started my outing ever where was going to be pretty hard under foot...well tyre, but soon discovered I was in for a shall we say interesting ride up the farmers trail. You see as an amputee I can ride up most banks/hills or inclines pretty well, that is as long as I start off at the bottom and keep my momentum going until I reach the top. Stopping half way up an incline can be a bit of a nightmare. This is because it's real difficult to get the momentum to push off and get your prosthetic side round to keep the cycling action going. Anyhoo I was roughly half way up this trail when my back tyre just became so caked up with mud that I lost traction, inevitably I had to stop and put my good foot down. I then tried to find a spot on the trail where  I could push off and try and get going again. This is when I lost balance and err well fell over on my prosthetic side. Luckily there was a little bit of an embankment so I quickly put my hand out and managed to stop myself falling. The problem I now had was I couldn't get my good foot down as I was still sitting on my saddle and also there was a gulley on my good side so it made it even higher. So I found myself slightly stuck half on and half off my bike. I couldn't get my prosthetic foot out of the clip, obviously a false leg doesn't work in the same way as a normal one I couldn't just twist my foot to disengage lol. I'm just pleased no one was around to see me as it would have looked strange to see someone stationary on their bike yet hanging off to one side supporting themselves with one arm. Eventually I figured out how to get off the bike. I had 2 or 3 goes at pushing myself of the embankment and managed to get my good foot on the ground...Mission success lol and all this was only like quarter of a mile from home. Next plan of attack was push my bike up the trail, until I found a reasonably flat, un-muddy area and I was off.

I decided to head down onto the C2C and just kept going. I actually ended up at Roker, this is where I took a few pics of my bike up against the large "Nut". There are various sculptures and interesting bits and pieces on the way down to Sunderland.

 I was quite lucky I managed to get under the Wearmouth Rail bridge to continue on my way down to the Marina and the coast as it appeared there had been a large landslide and at some point the path had be cordoned off. Looking at the bank side which is vertical it looks very unsafe.

I saw this rather interesting ship at the dock, so thought I'd take a few snaps...

I rode from Roker to South Shields, up past the Port of Tyne and along to White Mare Pool. I then went under the bridge for the motor way and turned right and got myself on the road heading up through Springwell. By this time I had probably covered 30 odd miles and was gutted I was starting to run out of steam. Not making excuses, just I haven't been out riding for over 3 weeks as to be honest I haven't been feeling to well. But hey that's another story. I decided to move my Bartlett Tendon "Cam" to position one (1). This means there isn't quite as much resistance on the tendons and make it a bit easier. I managed to get up Springwell bank, have to admit got off and pushed for a bit at one point I just had no energy. Once into Wrekenton it was all downhill, until I came to Lamsley and then another bloody hill up towards Birtley.

I had rang my dad whilst I was on my way up Springwell bank, as I was worried I might not be able to make it home and thought I'd better give him a shout then, as my mobile phone battery was only on 9% charge. Stupid bloody phone always goes flat quick (new phone needed me thinks)

Just as I got to the top of the bank towards Birtley the cavalry arrived in the shape of my dad Ern. He's a legend. So we popped my bike on the car rack and then it was a quick ride home, where I could have a nice hot shower, something to eat and try and recharge my batteries, as well as my phones lol.

Although I didn't quite make it home under my own steam I'm still pretty chuffed, covered around 44 miles today, dam it only had to complete 6 or so more to get home. Never mind  not bad considering I'm going through a few health issues with this dam Lymphoma.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

A short ride it's chilly

As I didn't manage to get out for a ride yesterday I thought I'd go for a short blast today. I didn't intend on going far so left my Camelbak and just took along my digi-camera and mobile (always carry my phone just in case).

WoW was it a bit brisk outside, soon got warmed up though and then as I heated up tried a few sprints out the saddle on my Bartlett Tendon. I had to be canny careful today as there was so much ice around I managed to slip n slide a few times but lucky never came a cropper today. I just love the sound of the crisp leaves beneath my tyres and the crunching of the ice as you go over frozen puddles lol.


As I wasn't going far I thought I may as well take in at least one or 2  assents, it's to good to push yourself and get out of breath,means your working hard and helps keep your fitness up.Plus as I am running my BT on the number 2 position on both of the "cams" well it's a little more difficult as there is  slightly  more tension on my tendons. It will be interesting to see how much my muscles grow on my stump side whilst using this new BT and "cam".

Position 2 on the "Cam" see the like "grenade pin" lol
 I didn't get too many pics today, it's real difficult when your out on your todd. You set your camera To "auto" then try to do a drive by and capture it just right in time with the "Beep Beep Beep" of your camera. Never mind I did get a few which aren't total failures I guess.

Camera set to auto "just click dam you"

On my way home I decided to venture up South Moor bank (instead of taking a slightly easier flatter way home). I thought I'd change it up a bit and pop my bike into 1 gear higher and then ride one lamp-post to another seated, then one lamp-post to another out the saddle and pumping. I know to those who ride a bike normally, (by that I mean with 2 legs) it doesn't sound much, but as an above knee amputee riding up a hill out the saddle is quite a feat. I mean if it wasn't for this amazing knee I couldn't even ride out the saddle on the flat, never mind up an incline. So as I reached the top of the bank I was pretty chuffed and it was another gold star for the Bartlett Tendon. I mean yeah I could do it with the old BT, it was just a lot harder work. Brian has managed to move the technology along with the design of the "cam" and now the knee feels a lot more supportive the more the knee is flexed, this means you use less energy and instead of having to swap tendons out ie a choice between 2x softs or 2x hards or a soft/hard combo, you can now leave the 2x softs in and allow the "cams" to do the work. All you have to do is remove a simple pin on each side, pop the "cam" in one of the three pre-set positions depending on how much tension you would like going through each of the tenons and that's it your done. Oh and depending on what sporting activity your doing and if you require it you can also pump up the new RockShox Monarch RT3 and adjust the compression/rebound settings.

My Sandman

Sunday, 25 November 2012

My first go on my new Bartlett Tendon, fitted with the "Cam" system...

Hi there...

Well this morning I got up, yeah rather late I mean come on I'm not used to these early starts and since getting my voluntary job at the hospital well I've been up around 7'ish every morning. So I thought I was entitled to a lie in.

I had planned to remove my old Bartlett Tendon knee and replace it with my new one, however my dad beat me to it as I got caught chatting to a friendly neighbour who was passing. My dad decided to sort the knee/socket indoors as it was a bit cold outside. So I was able to give him a bit of a hand and I did the final adjustments and tightening of the required bolts, aligned the knee and just made sure everything was as it should be. Oh I also swapped out the larger plastic bump stops (think that's what they are called. I'm not good with all the technical terms lol) and replaced these with the smaller ones Brian had supplied as I'm more accustomed to not having a slight flex in my knee. Basically if you have the larger stops in, it helps you bend the knee easier as it is already partly flexed.

It was then a case of changing my shorts and popping my SPD shoes on and going for a quick blast up and down our back street.

If you checkout my earlier photo's you can clearly see the different adjustment holes marked by dots on the side of each "cams"

I left the locking pins that go through the "cams" in position one (1 dot) to start with and had a ride up and down a few times. In terms of resistance I would probably say it's like running the 2 soft tendons with no pressure in the shock on the Original designed wheels. I did feel slightly more resistance the further I flexed the knee and that is the intended purpose of the "cams"

From there I decided to relocate both pins into the position two ( 2 dots) WoW now I could tell immediately the difference. At the top end of the stroke when cycling and the knee is not in full flexion there is minimal resistance, however when you go to flex the knee you can really feel the tendons becoming stiffer and a lot more resistance. From a mountain biker point of view this is brilliant as it means you can hang off the back of your seat and really use the tension in the tendons to help you take jumps, bumps and drops. I'm sure from other sporting perspectives the knee will be just as good.

So after my initial bit play up and down our back street I thought it would be a good idea to have a look out and decided to go over to some woods about 4 or 5 miles away. I cheated slightly as time was getting on so got my dad to drop me off in the car along with my Sandman Fat Bike and all my gear. I intended to get a little bit footag but was worried as the weather looked a bit bleak, it was dark and dull and ever so cold.

We arrived at the woods and like I say it was real cold, the trails where actually frozen in places and you could see the mist hanging and frost on the grass....brrrrrr!!!. Never mind I was on a mission to try out my new knee and have a bit of fun. Plus I had to do something otherwise I wouldn't have anything to write for you nice people, see your my motivation lol.

Anyhoo I got a little bit of ride footage, hope you like it. I will definitely be getting more, could do with better close ups of the knee. I actually found it hard to ride over in the woods as there was just so much thick deep mud. I could do with a new back tyre to be honest as my Surly Larry isn't gripping. Looks like I'll have to save for a Nate.

On the ride back home I was thinking about what I was going to write in my blog about the new Bartlett Tendon and for some reason Goldilocks sprang to mind. Let me explain... well as we all know Goldilocks apart from being a thief actually tried out all of the 3 bears bowls of porridge, until she found a one that was "Just Right" and in that respect the Bartlett Tendon with the new "cams" is exactly the same. You see each individual can adjust and tweak the knee unit to suit themselves and for whatever sport they intend on doing.

I'm very impressed with my first outing, even if I was freezing cold by the time I got in.

Me and the New BT with "Cams"

My Sandman

Saturday, 24 November 2012

New Bartlett Tendon has arrived

Further to my last post saying I was awaiting the arrival of my new Bartlett Tendon (sporting prosthetic knee) well fantastic news it's arrived.

I managed to  take a few shots last night after I got it home from the UPS delivery office, sorry they aren't exactly mint images, just it was dark in our dinning room and for some reason my camera didn't want to focus on the unit on anything less than an 800 iso setting (hence the grainy appearance). Never mind it gives those of you interested in anything prosthetical (if that is even a word lol) or if you appreciate design, craftsmanship, engineering and the amount of hard work the designer Mr Brian Bartlett has put into this awesome prosthetic device.

So lets have a look at a few pics huh?

The Bartlett Tendon with new "cam" system
Notice there are 3 settings which can be chosen on either "Cam" this is so the tendons can work in different stages of tautness and effect just how much stiffness can be applied to the knee unit.

Still in the box, the Bartlett Tendon, with "Cam" system

Checkout the new RockShox Monarch RT3

Notice the 2 locking pins which go through the "Cams" and lock them in position

One of the locking pins removed from the "Cam"

The 2 locking pins in place through the "Cams"

Anyhoo prepare yourself for the next instalment when I will be fitting my new BT to my Pace Rehabilitation  provided socket  and getting some riding footage, along with a few photo's of me in action . Oh and also doing a little bit of a piece on how the knee works and feels to ride with.

Huge thanks goto 



For their on going support...

Thursday, 22 November 2012

New Bartlett Tendon on it's way

Just over a month or so ago I returned my Bartlett Tendon to it's designer Brian Bartlett in the US. The knee required servicing and Brian wanted to checkout just how the knee was holding up in regards to wear and tear.

Brian now sponsors 5 people around the world, 2 of which are right here in the UK, that's Glyn and myself. We had fantastic news after the return of our knees and this was that Brian was going to further help out with our sponsorship and supply us with the new 2013 Bartlett Tendon complete with the newly designed "Cam" which the tendons run over. This design is still in trials at the moment and Brian has asked us to offer feedback to see how things feel compared with the original "wheeled system"

Both Glyn and myself are very excited about receiving our new high tech knees and can't wait to get in the saddle, or should that be out of it, as the Bartlett Tendon actually allows an above knee amputee to do this. And I don't mean just stand on the pedals, No you can actually ride out of the saddle, thanks to the unique design of the knee which incorporates artificial tendons.

I'm going to keep this post short as I fully intend to do a full write up along with ride pictures and hopefully some video of the new design.

It feels like Christmas has come early this year and I can't wait to unwrap my present.

For further information about the Bartlett Tendon please visit the below link.

Bartlett Tendon

Monday, 19 November 2012

Things aren't too bad

Just a quick update for those who read my blog about my current concerns relating to my Lymphoma.

Well today I visited Shotley Bridge hospital for my arranged appointment. I had my blood taken and waited 15 minutes or so before being called in to see the nurse who works on the cancer/haematology side of things. The team who I  see are always so friendly and supportive and today was no different. I was allowed to voice my concerns and it felt very nice to have someone listen then provide feedback in a positive manner.

The nurse then went on to give me an examination,basically the area's where you have lymph glands, so around my neck, under arms, tummy and groin area. I have a rather large node up in my left hand side groin area. The nurse said with the type of lymphoma I have,which is follicular lymph nodes will enlarge and present themselves. There was no abnormalities in my blood so apart from this stoopid lump I seem ok.

After the nurse examined me she asked the doctor to come and check me out so again my lump was examined and the doctor recommended I go for a precautionary CT scan. I'm not worried about the scan as I've had a couple previously, mind you I don't much care for the horrible stuff you have to drink before you have the scan, it tastes horrible. To me it tastes like really and I mean really diluted orange. Not quite water but definitely not pop.

So it's business as usual, continue with my new voluntary job and getting out as much as I can on my bike. Oh and I have arranged a time and date for my interview for the physio assistant's job at University Hospital Durham, so will see how that goes.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Not feeling Too Hot

Planned to go out for a ride with wor Kyle early this morning. I wasn't really sure whether I would be up to venturing far as I didn't feel too good last night, think I'm stressing slightly over my visit to hospital tomorrow. You see I have non Hodgkin's lymphoma, it was diagnosed around the end of October 2008 and up till now I've been lucky in that it hasn't really effected me.

 I go for the usual routine check-ups with the haematology team,who I have to say have been very supportive. I get my blood taken  and generally either my doctor or one of the nurses gives me the quick once over.

Over the last few months I've been suffering from some enlarged nodes down in my groin. The first one was on my right side, generally these nodes don't hurt they just kind of bug me and I like them to settle down and behave themselves. This node on my right got rather sore as unfortunately the top edge of my socket used to rub right in the same area, it wasn't a big deal like I say just sore and uncomfortable. Anyhoo the node on my right settled down and disappeared, however about a month or so ago a new node came up on my left side. This node is huge and it's actually hurting, hence why "I'm not feeling too Hot"... Well at least I think it's a node. I had to go for a scan last Thursday and the results have come back inconclusive, suppose this is what is worrying me. I would much prefer to know exactly what it is.

This past week has been full of ups and downs. Like I mentioned in my earlier blog I started doing voluntary work within the NHS at the Royal Victoria Hospital. I'm helping out on the Acute stroke unit. I've only done 3 mornings so far, the work is so interesting. I was actually very pleasantly surprised at just how hands on I am involved, basically I'm getting invaluable experience which will come in handy when I'm applying for the positions I'm after, which is a physio assistant.  Speaking of which I had good news on Friday evening when I opened my emails, as I have been contacted to let me know I have been successful in gaining 2 interviews for a physio assistant position. This is great news, as though I've been applying for jobs I haven't even gotten to the interview stage in sometime.

It's Sods law,well in my case whenever I plan to do something some dam health issue crops up. And I'm not talking just Man Flu...No it's always something that involves either getting bits of  metal shoved in my body, or bits cut off, or things taken out...

So anyhoo this morning I thought sod it I'm going out for a ride. I woke Kyle up at 5.00am, we had a cuppa and some toast and made some jam as well as chocolate spread sandwiches, using fruit loaf Mmmmm gorgeous. We then headed off for a ride to the coast. Bloody hell it was cold this morning, with a lot of ground frost (Ern -my dad said it was 2 degrees) so again "Not feeling too Hot" lol

Didn't manage to get a great deal of footage on my GoPro, so much so I haven't even bothered editing it and only a few pics today.

We rode down to Roker (Sunderland) following the C2C route7 I think.  Then followed the coastline down to South Shields. Once at Shields it was a case of cutting through the main street and we eventually came out at the Port of Tyne. From there straight up to White Mare Pool roundabout and up towards Springwell. We actually got on to the Bowes Railway route and came past the Bowes Railway Museum, first time I've been past it so may venture back to check it out. I'm no trainspotter, but I do like local history, stuff about our lost mining community etc. Once at the top of Springwell it was a short ride to Lamsley and along to Birtley. It was at this point I just didn't feel to well, we had done around 43 miles I was gutted we couldn't manage the other 6.33 miles home. So I rang Johnstones Taxi's, yeah that's right my dad and he came down to pick us up along with our bike rack.

 From there it was home, shower and to updating my blog. Now going for a well earned lie down.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

A short autum ride

So as you will see I haven't been up to much Blog wise. To be honest I haven't been feeling too good the last few weeks, but hey I don't want to bring you guys down with my worries and concerns.

 I thought I'd better have a blast out on my bike I mean it was last week since I'd been out for a ride. I didn't plan to go far, just thought I would checkout a little bit of woodland which is quite nearby, it's down towards a place called Hamsterley Mill. Even though I didn't really ride to far today I still had a laugh and some fun. It's good to get out, kind of takes my mind off other stuff that's going on.

 Today was pretty productive actually as I found some nice new trails and definitely think I will be paying this area another visit to do some in depth exploring. Even found a small waterfall which I have never noticed before when I've been down this way both on my bike and with wor Hinks (my pet pest lol)

 Oh and I forgot to mention next week as well as having to go to the dental hospital at Newcastle to get knocked out and have a wisdom tooth removed (BAD) I'm also starting a voluntary job. I'm very excited about this as it's a very worthwhile cause. I enjoy nothing more than being able to help out where I can and I have been invited to assist on the stroke unit at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle(GOOD). I'm hoping it will help me gain a bit more confidence as I've been out of work for a long time now due to one thing and another and as an added bonus I may learn some new skills and gain a bit of experience.

 I took a little bit of footage on my GoPro today and also some shots on my small canon, really I didn't get too many shots, so I just fudged a small vid together...

GoPro Heed

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Foggy Fun

Probably not the best day to go out for a bike ride, the weather was proper drab and miserable, been foggy all day, but hey I was bored so decided to venture out,asked wor Kyle if he fancied tagging along (he must have been bored too as he said aye can do)

Didn't really expect to get too many good shots today, as the fog was pretty thick. My GoPro doesn't work to well in bad light and I suppose the same can be said of my digi camera. Never mind I thought may as well just see how stuff turns out.

We didn't really venture too far afield, the trails were pretty muddy (I don't think even the best washing powder in the world will get my mtb gear clean, that bloke who advertises Persil  on Tv or whatever must have a special coating on his stuff , no way can he go for a ride in a white T-Shirt then pop it in the wash after a ride  and then get it out the washer looking like it's just come off the hanger new from the shop, either that or he's a pussy and doesn't ride proper trails lol)

Anyhoo getting soaking wet, filthy dirty and freezing cold aside we both really enjoyed ourselves.

I got a little bit of video, though due to the bad light and all the rain, fog and mud at times the lens got a bit wet n dirty.

Bad Boy Muddy errrr!!!  Hoody


Ooh Errr it's my Race Face

I like to make waves

Alllreeet Like

Friday, 19 October 2012

Edmondsley Woods

WoW so it's been quite a while since I last posted here on my blog. I guess I've just had one or two things on my mind, but hey won't go into that I mean I don't want to scare you all off lol.

Kyle and myself had a ride to Edmondsley Wood today. A few months back I had visited the wood with my dad and Mr Hinks for a walk and thought it may be a pretty cool place to try out for a quick blast on the bikes.

The woods trails were pretty soaking wet and muddy, never the less makes for an interesting ride.

I managed to get a little bit of footage on the GoPro so have quickly put a video together.

.As we were riding towards Edmondsley just as we came over the hill at Craghead there was a large vale of fog in the valley and it was a bit on the nippy side. As you can see by the few pics the sun got out and it turned into a really quite pleasant return journey with the sun on our backs. Surprisingly warm for an October morning.

Some lovely shafts of light from the sun as it broke through the woods.

I downloaded Perfect Effects and used the software on the very top image to get these results

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Ended up in Struther's Wood

We had a drive down to the Hamsterley Hall Gate House which is on the B6310 and drove along the road until we came upon the road which leads into Hamsterley Hall. As it's private access into the Hall we parked up just along the trail from the Entrance.

Our plans where to just have a leisurely stroll through the woods and take in the scenery, maybe get a few photo's along the way.

We walked until we came to a sign for the Pont Stones and continued up a trail, unfortunately we didn't discover any stones as the trail just seemed to fade out into the surrounding woodland. I used my mobile and Google maps to pin point our location and it appeared we were in Struther's Wood.

Struther's Wood

Mr Hinks had a bit play around, jumping over a fallen tree and rolling around in the undergrowth. He then proceeded to play with a stick and thoroughly enjoyed being let of his leash for a while.

Mr Hinks, doesn't usually jump, he's too lazy lol

Hinks having loads of fun, Ern watching on

We then proceeded back down the trail and continued in a wide loop back towards our car. I was taking various photo's on the way round of stuff I found interesting, however when I've got home and checked the images I was disappointed to find the shots were pretty naff. It's weird sometimes i can go out using the exact same camera and come away with great shots, then on another day I'm lucky if I get one or two. Ahh well that's the beauty of digital photography you can just wipe your memory card and go out and shoot on another day.

So anyhoo we continued walking around the trail towards our car, Hinks was still off and he suddenly stopped in the middle of the trail. This usually means he has spotted something and yes he had another dog. Now wor Hinks is usually fine around other dogs, yes he's a bit boisterous and can play rough, but he is friendly. Well I don't know what upset him, Ern reckons the other dog a Springer Spaniel growled at Mr Hinks, so he proceeded to try and have a go at it. So I'm shouting me heed off I mean I couldn't run (I blame the NHS they won't provide me with a blade lol). Wor Hinks is now in the process of chasing this Springer all over the shop. I then shout at my dad to run and get Hinks, to which he replies "I can't bloody run". Yeah sometimes I forget he's almost 72 years old lol. Anyways eventually get down to Hinks and grab him and there's no real harm done. The lady and gentleman who had the other dog apologized saying there dog could be a "bit funny" and I also said sorry for wor Hinks behaviour, the ickle git. I then grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and pinned him down and repeated "No, No,No" in a stern voice. Probably doesn't do any good but made me feel better. Then he was informed "No more getting let off you bad dog".

This is one of the last shots i took as we came out of thee woods. This tree and the bit growing on it caught my eye. I know what it looks like to me but you might see something else.....

I know what it looks like to me.....