…..'A sense of humour lends you poise, it gives you balance and it helps you to bend without breaking'…..

(HH Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda)

Menoportable [men-oh-port-able]; the condition of adaptability - Nigerian aftermath

You'll recall I mentioned some matters of health, prior to the Nigerian sojourn.

Within a few months of settling into Edinburgh, knee, ankle and foot pain set in big time. then the hip decided to join the party.

With little brother ensconced in his boarding school, I set about finding work.  This was not so easy as this was the time of the encroaching 'winter of discontent'; a period of high inflation, high unemployment, low and capped wages, and generally just a rather grim time economically in the UK.  James Callaghan, PM.  It wasn't long before Maggie took over.

After a brief flirt with the famous 'dole' system I found a position as a shop assistant.  Not the average shop mind you.  Retail and Trade Decorators' supplies.  I had been three months back in the UK and winter was ahead.  The job entailed a lot of manual lifting.  It also required the shinning up and down of ladders.  Very long, very high-reaching ladders. This was not quite the kind of thing I had thought of doing.  I was qualified to take on at least basic PA roles, or clerical.  Here it was though, before the days of the big DIY barns and franchised chains.

I did not really know anyone in Edinburgh yet.  It was an important part of adapting back into this society to have work or at least a place to integrate.  I still have very fond memories of my time at Robertsons.  More about it in another post.

The important thing about this time though, is that it got harder and harder for me to climb those ladders; or even to walk to work.  It was about two miles from the flat to the shop, across The Meadows.  In a wet and snow-ridden winter, the pain became excruciating.

It took about 18 months and a new doctor at the surgery to discover that I was not imagining things nor was I suffering 'growing pains'.

I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis.  It had unquestionably been in my body for some time but something had caused it to flare significantly. This on-the-ball medic (who remained the family doctor right through to his retirement!) considered that the trigger for this major manifestation of RA could have been the anti-malarial drugs we were forced to take.  It is possible that had these continued, the disease condition may have been disguised or taken longer to appear.  However, it was also clear that the pains which had been present in the last years of school and prior to overseas travel simply had not been properly tested or diagnosed.  The concept of juvenile arthritis was barely taking shape.  I was put on some corticosteroids, but immediately had side effects from these, so after a lot of strife and mucking around, the pain was managed with only soluble aspirin.  Major doses of it.

I adapted my shoes with newspapers to form supports.  Orthotics were far beyond my reach.  A walking stick was used when things got really bad.  The key thing, though, was that I was determined it would not stop me dancing.

Fast forward another year.  A holiday to the next African trip.  Myself and the three sibs met up with the parents in Kenya.  It was purely a tourist trip.  A lovely 3-4 weeks in a very different African territory.  Following this we headed back to Durban in South Africa. Will share a handful of piccies with you later.  The key matter here is that Mac3 had by this time also been complaining of joint pains.  The school doc diagnosed 'growing pains'.  


In Durban he became quite debilitated.  The doctors in SA diagnosed Rheumatic Fever. The girls returned to UK alone.  I remained to help nurse Mac3.  With RF the patient must not move because it strains the heart.  This was the worst thing which could have happened for my little brother.  For as you will now have surmised, this too was a misdiagnosis.  On return to UK full tests were followed up and he too proved to have RA, juvenile form.  He was put on the same drug which did horrible things to my insides.  He was able to tolerate it though.

Thus adaptation was not simply social and psychological, but very, very physical.

You may say, Africa got into our blood...


  1. My goodness. We play the hands we're dealt, and yours had a lot of jokers.

  2. Oh it is so nice to meet you too and thank you for stopping by. We've seen your comments on other blogs but now we know where you are!
    Hugs madi and Mom

  3. Thank goodness both you and your brother finally found doctors who gave the correct diagnosis.

    I see you have met Madi & Mom, they are wonderful blogger friends.

  4. RA is a terrible disease . . . OK, carrying on to other links . . .

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley


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