Tuesday evening, and my turn to provide transport for three blind people from the town to their monthly social evening, on this occasion a dinner at a pub some miles out of town. It was on one of these outings that I first met Ivan and Jenny. Ivan was then showing very similar symptons to those that Sheila had and he was going through the same tests - MRI scans, cognitive tests, x-rays etc - in an attempt to diagnose his condition. It took just as long for the doctors to come up with a diagnosis for him as it had for Sheila, but his was different. It was still (probably) a form of Parkinson's, and another uncommon form, but slightly different in some way, althouh the prognosis was much the same. Ivan, however, has the added complication that he is blind, or has very limited sight and what he has left is disappearing. I was shocked on Tuesday to see how much he has deteriorated. His mobility and balance are very poor and Jenny said that his speech is at times unintelligible. It's difficult to know whether it is a blessing or a curse that his mind is otherwise unaffected.
I got home just in time to catch the tail end of the news on the television. They were showing the scene earlier that day in Wootton Bassett as the bodies of eight of our soldiers were brought home from Afghanistan. Wootton Bassett is a small market town which few people had heard of until recently. The RAF base of Lyneham is situated not far from the town and the route from Lyneham to the M4 motorway for the John Radcliffe Hospital at Oxford (where the post mortems are carried out) is through Wootton Bassett. What started as a spontaneous gesture by the local British Legion to stand by the roadside to show their respect has grown enormously. Now, as the hearses approach the town, the church bell is tolled, the shops empty, and thousands of people, not just from the local area, stand in silence. Whatever the rights or wongs of our government sending the army into Afghanistan, it is causing grief to many people.
I went to bed that night thankful that Sheila's codition is so much better than Ivan's and that my sons are not in the army.