Upward lift

Nick: “How are you feeling today, Clare?”

Clare curls her fingers and gets her thumb up.

Nick: “Right, we’ll do something hard then!”

It’s been 3 weeks, and we have wet holidays to talk about as we get ready.  Helen’s Norwich trip involved canoeing so was bound to be wet. And it was. Robin’s D-of-E trip was really wet (he says cheerfully) but he had a tarpaulin that he sheltered under, so no worries there. Clare and I were in a comfy dry cottage looking out at woodpeckers and wet trees, and had to admit our trip to Harry Potter Studios had been totally unaffected by rain.

Last time she climbed, Clare got very cold.  Today we help her put on Hazel’s cycling gloves at the start, hoping her hands will stay warm.  Which they don’t – but today’s clothing, including full thermals, joggers, an ample jumper, and fleece, keeps her warm enough.

For the first time ever, we don’t need to think whether the vent tubing goes above or below the harness – we’ve remembered it goes above.  And we repeat last time’s nifty trick of tucking the NG tube into Clare’s hairdo (Clare’s carer Becky does this as she knows how hairdo was built).

To the wall! Nick, Helen and Robin have picked another new location, this spot having vertical rather than horizontal obstacles (if obstacles is the right word).

Clare starts very fast, raising the jumar without assistance.


“Nice one, Clare”, we’re murmuring.  But Clare is already pulling the jumar down, and going for the next lift.

Upward progress is steady.  What is surprising is that Clare continues to lift the jumar herself. The velcro system built round Hazel’s gloves is doing a great job keeping Clare’s hands from slipping off the bar, but upward lift of the bar is all from Clare.

The big blue vertical obstacle keeps Clare and Robin further apart, but not too far apart.  The vent tubing falls off only once, dangling downwards … we all shout at Robin and he’s already retrieving it to reconnect.


Ooh, this is looking like another trip to the top ….



Robin is telling Clare to go for it.


Hesitation as the climbers near the top.  Four of us watching below. Two people up high.  Movement.  Watching.  Waiting.

Is Clare still OK? Robin says Yes.


Hovering.  Encouragement.  “Reach up for the karabiner!”

Clare’s hardworking arm reaches up waveringly.  And again.  “Go on, Clare!”

I think Clare touches the karabiner.  Anyway, she is defo at the top


Woo hoo!!  The amazing thing is that Clare has done every single lift of the jumar herself.  That’s a first.

We get Clare down as fast as conveniently possible, not sure how tired she is.  Her knees are coming into contact with the holds.  We don’t need a full-speed descent, and Robin helps Clare’s feet and knees past tricky spots.

She lands in the chair. Smiling! And looking well.

High five!


Climb again? Well, Clare’s priority is café.  We fetch some coffee and Clare has a few spoonfuls of mine.

So – another amazing climb to the top.  More for future reference than anything (as Clare is looking perfectly well) we take a reading of Clare’s sats – they are 100% (i.e. fully oxygenated) once we have got a reading from her cold hands.  We relive the enjoyment of the climb and Clare feels really pleased with it.

Coffee drunk.  Ropes to get down.  See you in 2 weeks!


Climbing and cafe

Back at The Foundry.  We’re still buzzing after last time’s climb to the top.

Getting ready – to a background of Arctic Monkeys.  Nick produces the adjusted cycling gloves and jumar system.  Hmm, new gloves-? They’re Hazel’s gloves apparently, but Nick & Robin assure us Hazel never uses them.  Anyway, she’ll like the new velcro additions, they say 😉

No need to fuss with the vent tubing as we have at last started to remember that it should go over and not under the harness straps.  Just recently Clare has started to take significant chunks of time off the ventilator so maybe Robin won’t have to carry it in the unspecified future.  We tell him to enjoy the grooves in his shoulders while he still can.


Clare starts climbing.  The now sewn-on velcro is holding well and her hands mostly stay on the bar.  Lifts and pulls are thick and fast.


Upwards progress is rapid. Intense effort.


Clare is rotating to the side a bit more today, but still lifting the bar well. Robin helps her get her right hand back on the bar a couple of times.  Clare and Robin negotiate the groove in the wall.


But now Clare is too tired for more pulls. Time to get down and rest in the chair.

Clare looks exhausted and seems cold.  She isn’t wearing enough today: jeans instead of the usual joggers, and a not-over-thick-or-long jumper.  Nick and Robin are finding it warm enough to wear tshirts today and it’s certainly warmer here than it was in February, but Clare has always been nesh. I put my jumper on her lap, hoping she will warm up a bit.

We discuss the climb. Robin says Clare was pulling down on the bar even before Nick added his weight to the pull.  It was the most intense burst of climbing so far.

The gloves are good. Nick explains some other thoughts he’s had about modifications to the jumar, but wearing the right clothing is a higher priority for next time.  Helen suggests fleece trousers for Clare – Helen leads canoeing groups, and keeping people warm is part of the job.

Clare might warm up a bit when she starts her feed, so I ask her: “Do you want to rest for a bit then do another climb if you’re up for it, or call it a day now?”

Clare mouths her reply, which doesn’t seem to match either suggested option, or perhaps it matches them both.  “Erm … did you say you want to rest for a bit … and then you want to call it a day?”

Clare mouths one word at a time: “No, I want to rest for a bit, then go to the cafe, then do another climb!”

Cafe! “Like your thinking!” we all say.  Right, what are we all having?!

I tell Clare we don’t have a munchkin bag with us as she used it at Woodcraft Folk on Thursday to eat a bourbon biscuit.  OK then, I’ll try to find a cake with some easily eatable icing.

Helen and I head upstairs to the café and return with assorted coffees and a wedge of sponge cake with icing and jam. Nick hadn’t wanted a coffee but volunteers to eat the sponge minus its icing and jam.

Good coffee! Clare has spoonfuls of cappuccino, icing and jam.

Hey, I’ll stage a photo of the drinks as this week’s group photo.  I’m waiting for Clare to finish putting the spoon back onto her plate. But she is still leaning forward over her plate and cup.  Is Clare OK? Hmm, she is looking peaky.

Rachel and I attach the sats (i.e. oxygen saturation) monitor, and suction airways.  Sats are not very good. Turn on oxygen. Have another go at turning on once we’ve realised the cylinder’s valve was closed.  Sats as measured don’t improve much but this may be because Clare is really cold so we’re not getting a good reading.  Freezing cold knees. Forehead feels like cold water.

Lesson learned on clothing. Clare is looking a bit better now.  Rachel, Clare and I watch Robin and Helen get started on some climbing. We set off home, oxygen still running.

It was a good climb.  Clare really went for it.  It wasn’t so high, but Nick reflects that once you start to do something regularly you get some days better than others.  We’ll next meet in 3 weeks, as Robin is doing Duke of Edinburgh expedition in 2 weeks’ time.