memoirs, art and fragments by Thomas Milner

Archive for the ‘encouragement’ Category

Tom would love to hear from you

Hi everyone

Jo here, Tom’s niece, gatecrashing his blog again!

Tom is back at the Lar working very hard at getting better. He’s medically stable, well looked after but rehabilitation is slow and frustrating. Tom’s mind is sharp as a razor as ever, but he’s frustratingly not able to type, read or use the computer. However, he’d LOVE to hear your messages, words of support, notes or anything else. It really does make a difference and lift Tom’s mood. Do leave a comment here (They’ll get read to him) or email me jo[at]minestronesoul.com

x Thanks

Jo

Ambulacrum

St. Edmund's College - AMBULACRUM

St. Edmund’s College – AMBULACRUM

Here is an old picture of The Ambulacrum at my old school (from the Latin ambulare: to walk) where people would amble, saunter or stroll before mealtimes or during breaks between lessons. There was an obscure protocol concerning who could avail themselves of this privilege and when and why, the details of which have long since fled from my mind, I’m glad to say.

Walking (also known as ambulation) is one of the main methods of locomotion among legged animals and is typically slower than running and other gaits. Walking is defined by an inverted pendulum gait in which the body vaults over the stiff limb or limbs with each step. Although walking speeds can vary greatly depending on factors such as height, weight, age, terrain, surface, load, culture, effort, and fitness, the average human walking speed is about 5 kilometres per hour.

Let me just jump in here as someone who has observed walking from both points of view (can and can’t).

I can testify that walking suits people.

Locomotion makes people dynamic, whether the upright graceful carriage of an athlete or the haunchy waddle of the villager, walking makes you look good.

walking_person_silhouette_clip_art_15563

Not so much fun however is sitting round all day in a wheelchair watching other people walk.

To my chagrin I haven’t greatly improved the quality or speed of my walking on my frame. Always at the back of my mind is one of the (unwritten) maxims of this place: to stop is to die. Goaded on by this thought, in spite of the inherent indolence of my nature, I continue to doggedly sway across halls and lurch down corridors, sweating and stubborn … while I am thus ambulating, my mind sometimes stretches across the universe to grasp at some elusive truth … other times I focus on the matter in hand – to continue defying gravity for just one more step.

But we make progress my masters; courage my friends; keep on going for just one more step.

Don’t give up!

I leave you with a spot of oriental wisdom:

What the caterpillar thinks of as the end of the world, the rest of the world calls a butterfly.

Lao-tzu

BUTTERFLY - PAINTING by THOMAS MILNER

BUTTERFLY – PAINTING by THOMAS MILNER

Please allow me to introduce myself

Please allow me to introduce myself, I’m a man of wealth and taste … thus the opening words of a famous song from my youth – Sympathy for the Devil by the Rolling Stones.

Not particularly wealthy and of uncertain taste, I am an Englishman in late middle-age who, over the last eight years, has endured three brain operations to remove benign but aggressive brain tumours. For reasons, which will in time become clear, I have somehow managed to end up in an Old People’s Home in the north of Portugal overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

I didn’t survive unscathed however; after the second procedure (six years ago) I was left with what the surgeons rather euphemistically described as a slight deficit in my right side.

I couldn’t even sign my own name! Part of my rehabilitation therapy was to draw and paint for about an hour each day.

I also had lapses of memory and after a long while in a very dark place I pulled myself together – It’s sauve qui peut in this place (pardon my French), I thought – and began to tap out with one finger my memories in order to fix them in my mind.

So here, in this slightly strange and surreal place, I produced and (self)published my book THE WAITING ROOM.

What therapy! What catharsis! I can’t recommend it enough for fellow victims – your memories will lead you into rich meadows in which you may graze at will …

COURAGE

(Pardon my French)

S.JORGE - PAINTING by THOMAS MILNER

Ambulation

Walking (also known as ambulation) is one of the main gaits of locomotion among legged animals, and is typically slower than running and other gaits. Walking is defined by an ‘inverted pendulum’ gait in which the body vaults over the stiff limb or limbs with each step. Although walking speeds can vary greatly depending on factors such as height, weight, age, terrain, surface, load, culture, effort, and fitness, the average human walking speed is about 5 kilometres per hour.

TWO SKETCHES

Let me just jump in here as someone who has observed walking from both points of view (ie.can and can’t). I can testify that walking suits people; locomotion makes people dynamic, whether the upright graceful carriage of an athlete or the haunchy waddle of the villager, walking makes you look good. Not so much fun, however, is sitting round all day in a wheelchair watching other people walk.

To my chagrin I haven’t greatly improved the quality or speed of my walking on my frame. Always at the back of my mind is one of the (unwritten) maxims of this place: to stop is to die. Goaded on by this, in spite of the indolence of my nature, I continue to doggedly sway across halls and lurch down corridors, sweating and stubborn … while I am thus ambulating, my mind sometimes stretches across the universe to grasp at some elusive truth … other times I focus on the matter in hand – to continue defying gravity for just one more step.

But we make progress, my masters, courage friends, keep on going for just one more step – don’t give up!

I leave you with a spot of oriental wisdom:

What the caterpillar thinks of as the end of the world, the rest of the world calls a butterfly.

 Lao-tzu

As good as it gets

Spring has come around again and the country has responded generously to the challenge; warm sun gleaming on the new green leaves of the orange trees in the garden, the sound of a distant lawn-mower, blue skies (the Stairway to Heaven is always blue in this season), all these awaken a feeling of hope and joie de vivre in me.

HOUSE IN A LANDSCAPE - PAINTING - BY THOMAS MILNER

Today as usual after lunch I paint for an hour then go for a quick lurch on my frame around the dining room and up and down the City Road, in and out the Eagle,  that’s the way the something goes, pop goes the weasel. After Tea (rather confusingly called Lanche in Portuguese) I go up in the lift to my favourite place in the Home, the large deserted terrace on the 2nd floor. This terrace is a rather splendid place, itself the outside extension of an enormous empty room, (like the venue for a party or religious event which somehow never seems to happen, as if the great Architect in the sky, feeling sorry for me, has granted me a private kingdom).  In five years I have never seen it used. There I sit in splendid isolation, the panoramic view spread out before me, the sea glittering on the horizon, a distant buzzard patrolling the immense sky, sunning myself with my cap pulled firmly down over my sunglasses, feeling the warm breeze coming in off the ocean and indulging in some of my favourite daydreams. Lord of all I survey, I feel total contentment for an hour. I love it up here. This is as good as it gets.

Don’t Give Up!

Ancient Chinese wisdom has it that a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.

This could a mantra for all rehabilitation therapists treating the victims of strokes, partial paralysis or indeed any form of physical trauma.

So, my fellow victims, we all have good days and bad days (and at the beginning they’re mostly bad) but my message to you is simple – don’t give up!

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