Disability Bites when you least expect it

Before I ever thought of moving permenantly to France I had had three strokes, the last in 2000 left me in a wheelchair.

I think that experiencing disability made me want to face it head on so I started to exercise (mainly swimming) and walking but I couldn't do very much.

In 2002 my husband and I visited Burgundy, we had holidayed there in 2000 with the intention of buying a second home but within weeks of returning home I had my third stroke. All thoughts of France were put on the back burner until our holiday in 2002.

It was while visiting Beaune my husband picked up a property paper and found a petite annonce for a house in our budget. We found the agent and arranged to go and see the house immediately which we did and by that evening had made an offer that was accepted.

Two months later we took possession of the house which we loved as all the living space was on one floor and easily accessible for me. We spent 6 months in the UK and 6 months in France over the year and our dear neighbour, a farmer's wife, looked after the house in our absence.

In 2004 we moved permenantly and we had to find out the answers to thousands of questions alone. By this time I was doing quite well and using a stick to walk which was fantastic. The rural location of the hamlet was fantastic as I certainly benefited from the tranquility. Then a couple of months after moving I ended up in a rehabilitation centre for a month. I managed to recover from this set back and we were fine until January 2006 when my husband was taken ill. He was hospitalised and my GP insisted I went to stay with English friends until my daughter and son in law arrived from the UK. When my husband had recovered we decided that we needed to be nearer the town (the hamlet was 30 minutes from commerce) so we looked and found a house which we felt was a good compromise.

In 2008, whilst on holiday in Brittany, I experience extreme pain in my hands and feet. On returning home I saw my GP who sent me for blood tests and x-rays, the results showed possible arthritis and she arranged for me to see a rheumatologist. He sent me for more blood tests, x-rays, scans and an MRI. He told me I had rheumatoid and osteo arthritis and a herniated disc in my back. The arthritis he said had been there for more than 10 years (I had presented symptoms of RA to my GP in UK) and the disc problem was about 25 years in situ. I had had a fall around 20+ years previously and had been told just before moving to France that I would have to learn to live with the pain. The rheumatologist was not impressed.

I was started on medication before the results were back from the laboratories which is tablets every day and a nurse coming to give me cortisone injections every week. What I did need was help day to day so that was the next thing on my list.