Tag Archives: NHS

Bringing out the worst in me…

It’s 7.57. On a normal day I would just be lacing my shoes up, ready to take Julia to work. But today isn’t a normal day. I was at hospital for 6.55, securing one of the few remaining parking spaces. Either there are an awful lot of visitors outside opening hours or the staff are using the visitor spaces. I think you know where my money would go if I were a betting man.

I had a twenty minute wait at Phlebotomy because they needed a chat about gloves and the faults with the label printing software. During this time I also noticed that although we have “social distancing” in p[lace for chairs in the waiting room, the chair I selected was not socially distanced from the store cupboard.

When one member of staff used it, we were around 3 feet apart. When four members of staff needed it at the same time, three of them with trollies, I became part of a milling crowd of phlebotomists. I’m going to take a guess here, but my conclusion is that the person who drew up the seating plan had never been to outpatients.

I could go on to offer some suggestions for improvements, and discuss management and leader ship, but I’m eating my breakfast with one hand and typing with the other, thinking is probably a step too far. Anyway, next door’s builders are using power tools and it’s difficult to concentrate.  There’s just something about getting the simple stuff wrong that really brings out the worst in me.

8.26 now. I’ve blogged, I’ve breakfasted and I’ve just checked the work eBay sales. It’s been a quiet week. I can’t see the day being distinguished by urgency and hard work.

Next time I post I will be fully vaccinated. It’s an all action day – blood test in the right arm this morning, vaccination in the left this afternoon. How’s that for advance planning? Two arms, two needles. I’m glad I don’t have a third needle to accommodate, as it would be a tricky choice.

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

 

Bad Hand Day

Sorry about my absence from posting yesterday. I had a bad hand day and by the time I had finished doing the comments and  a few other bits all I could do was sit in front of the TV and hold a hot water bottle while contemplating removing two of my fingers with a bread knife.

Yes, I was brought down by my two little fingers. Thy have swollen up and started hurting, and in doing so prevented the rest of my hands from working and removed my will to live. It’s strange how something that is under one percent of body mass can stop everything working. I must definitely start that diary I keep talking about and see if I can trace what is making this happen, or even spot some early warning signs.

However, for the moment I am living in ignorance. They aren’t too bad this morning but they still aren’t right either – time will tell whether they improv or deteriorate in the next eight hours.

I’m certainly having a better time than one of the patients at the surgery. I had a text message yesterday telling me that the surgery had not issued my prescription for Pregabalin  and that I had to contact the doctor to discuss my symptoms. So I contacted them. I actually got through without being put in a queue, for once. The conversation went like this.

“Hello, you’ve just sent me a text about a prescription.”

(They did the name and address and date of birth check here…)

“Yes, Mr Wilson, we can’t issue that prescription unless you talk to a doctor first.”

“Well it’s not for me, I haven’t ordered anything and I don’t know what Pregabalin is. This is a message for somebody else.”

“It’s for your Sciatica, but you need to talk to a doctor first about your symptoms.”

“I haven’t got Sciatica, this is for somebody else.”

There was a short pause as they digested this. I don’t suppose they get many patients denying they have symptoms.

“Oh, I’m sorry, we must have sent it in error.”

“No need to apologise, it’s not a problem for me, but I’m a bit worried there’s somebody who needs a prescription who won’t be getting one.”

“Oh, yes, we’d better look into that.”

I hope they did, and I hope they eventually issued the Sciatica pills. I’d hate to be sitting at home expecting a cure, only to find they’d given it to someone else, someone

who is a little worried that they will cock up his Methotrexate in a couple of weeks. I’m steadily losing confidence in the NHS…

From Bed to Verse

Post 2,313

28th January 2021

As usual, nothing of importance to relate. I woke while it was still half-dark and had to look at my phone for a time check. The clocks went forward in the night so we lost an hour and I can no longer tell the time by the degree of light outside.

Temperatures have dropped from yesterday, it is windy and there are flecks of rain on the window. From what I remember of setting up my WordPress account it would be called something like “Standard Autumn”  or even  “Just Grey”.

All the normal things happened, the ones I normally filter out of my daily posts – trouser troubles, stiff knees, feeling the gaps when I brush my teeth.

I found myself thinking about prostates this morning. It’s my age. part of me says that I really ought to have a serious conversation with a doctor. Part of me says that I do not want to be part of any conversation that occurs whilst I have my back turned to a stranger wearing rubber gloves. Even worse, a conversation with someone I know, who is wearing rubber gloves.

That led me on to Richard Mabey. When I was last in male urology I was in the middle of reading one of his books and Clare Pooley suggested another of his books when I was convalescing. He ended up in male urology at one point and used the experience to write about water, internal and external, in a a philosophical manner. I used the experience to complain about the NHS, including sandwiches made with white bread and two cancelled operations. I seem to lack the spiritual dimension needed to be a great nature writer. I could, however, have had a lucrative and fulfilling career as a management consultant in the NHS if my life had turned out differently. Or as John Lewis-Stempel. I wouldn’t mind being John Lewis-Stempel.

This is an interesting thought but not one I’m going to dwell on as i have things to do. Poems don’t write themselves, and, as yet, there is no such thing as self-spreading marmalade. That would be a great advance – no more balancing knives and pots on corners of my desk where papers and pill packets haven’t spread. No more juggling, no more sticky patches on the desk, or fluff on toast.

I must make a note of that. But first I must write poems. I am feeling in a very Limerick mood.

A Suffolk blogger called Pooley,
has a name that rhymes with Gilhooley.
It could have been worse,
in this sort of verse,
it often ends up rhymed with…

…that probably needs a bit of work. It may also not work for Americans as I am not sure. I just checked the dictionary and things got even more confused. On top of that, and following the nature writer theme, I find there is a man called Tristan Gooley. Words fail me. And that is not a common occurrence. And this was going to be such a subtle ending…

 

NHS Roulette

Do you remember me saying “At that point we will start the game of NHS Roulette to see what I actually get. ” in the last post?

Did you think at the time that I was being unduly  pessimistic, or unfair on the saints who run the NHS?

Well, after picking up my phone from the shop I went to the pharmacy, queued, got to the counter, asked for my prescription and was given a bag that didn’t look like the one I was expecting.

It seems that the stuff I ordered four weeks ago hasn’t come, but I did have a bag of things I hadn’t ordered. I would have ordered them today, as they were due. Unfortunately there was one item missing from that lot too – the important one. So all in all, NHS scores zero for efficiency, yet again. It’s a wonder they don’t actually kill more people with the number of things they get wrong. I used to take the view that they did dozens of things right for every on they got wrong but at the moment it’s running about 50;50, which isn’t great odds when you are gambling with your health.

It’s possibly sorted now, after a phone call, but you can never be too sure about these things. I await the next cock-up with bated breath.

After that, I booked a vaccination appointment. That was an experience. The web address didn’t work so I used the phone number. I was number 50 in the queue and they were answering two a minute, according to the running commentary. Sometimes my hopes rose when they answered four in a minute, sometimes they fell as the number decreased by one, or even zero. Eventually, I got through, and found out why they were so slow. They needed my NHS number, and, of course, it’s not something you either memorise or keep to hand, unless the people asking you for ti have thought to tell you in the text they sent. They, of course, didn’t think of that.

Then, after ascertaining which was my nearest test centre, they told me there were no appointments there and they were waiting for more to be released, which wouldn’t be released until tomorrow. That was interesting, because until then I thought that each day had the same times as all other days – silly me. They asked if I’d like to ring back tomorrow.

Let’s see. Would I like to ring back tomorrow and spend another 25 minutes hanging on – it’s an ordinary number, not a free one, and I am of an age where 25 minutes is a significant amount of time. I settled for an appointment that is further away. Strangely, they didn’t offer me on at City Hospital, which I can see as I type. They are doing them there because one of the neighbours is going there for hers tomorrow.

It will take 30-40 minutes for them to assess me before vaccination, then I have a 15 minute wait afterwards. half an hour before the vaccination? NO wonder it’s taking so long to give them all.

Pictures are random sky shots – one being a rainbow over the Ecocentre and the other being crepuscular rays over the lake at Rufford park. That is knowledge I have gained by reading Derrick’s blog.

Crepuscular rays at Rufford Park

Crepuscular rays at Rufford Park

Blood Tests, Relaxed Restrictions and a Peaceful Protest

I had to visit the Treatment Centre for a blood test yesterday. I didn’t need one and I don’t do it for fun but I had been told to have another one in a clear case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing.

For posterity, I note the following things.

One – there was nobody on the door with masks, gel, advice or censure.

Two – people were once again drifting in through the door. Some weren’t using the hand gel and some were accompanying patients and didn’t need to be there.

Three – I saw a staff memeber walking round with their mask pulled down under their nose. Admittedly, it was a nose of heroic proportions and they were clearly proud of it (and possibly unable to get it into the mask), but it was still unmasked when it should have been covered.

Four – the cafe is open again, though you can onl;y have one person at a table.

Five – the phlebotomist is no longer wearing a face shield, as noted at City Hospital when I had my last anti-coagulant blood test.

These are not criticisms, just observations noted down for posterity. At a time we are told that a second peak is coming and that it is due to undisciplined social gatherings, it might be germane to note the slackening off of NHS discipline.

The service was excellent, if you ignore the fact the test was not necessary and the telephone helpline had proved to be bloody useless after they messed my prescription up.

On the other hand, I was able to collect a blood form, have the test, get my prescription and be given advice by the pharmacist and still get out of the car park in thirty minutes. Impressive stuff.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Poppy

Tonight I have started learning the names for my finger joints so I can discuss them on the phone. There must be a poem in there somewhere.

I have also been noting the limits to my peaceful right to protest. It’s made a little more complicated by lockdown regulations but I may seek to defend myself using the Cummings or Stanley Johnson defence – I am too important to allow the law to limit my capacity for arrogance.

I’m also not quite sure about the legality of handcuffing myself to property which may or may not belong to someone else. The internet is rather uninformative on that point.

I now need as group of Suffragette bodyguards and I am ready for action.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Poppy

There is, as you may suspect, a gathering cloud of civil unrest…

I wasn’t able to source any decent photos for peaceful protest or handcuffs on Pexels so I widened my search. Knowing what happens on the internet I really should not have searched for ‘handcuffs’.

That’s why you have poppies instead.

Another Senior Moment

When I had a look at the last post, before going to bed, I realised it wasn’t there. I vaguely remembered that it had flashed up on the screen while I was doing something else and I think I probably deleted it at that point. I’m sure there should be a single button to restore it, but I couldn’t find it and had to reload it bit by bit. This is annoying.

It’s annoying because I had another senior moment, it’s annoying because I had better things to do with my time and it’s annoying because out there on WP there are probably people thinking “Does that idiot really think a picture of banknotes is a proper post?”

No. I don’t. And the worst bit of it is that the best I could do was American money. I live in a country where you can’t even get a decent banknote picture of my own currency. I do have a few somewhere, but there’s not enough money to be a suitable picture for an article about being  a millionaire. Or, in my case, not being a millionaire. Again.

The electronic prescription service, which I distrust, has failed me and I have had no text to tell me I have pills to pick up. It already takes two days longer than doing it manually, and now the system is even more delayed because it seems to have crashed. I will say no more, but I am very disappointed.

The pharmacy has a score of 2.7 out of 5 on Google, despite a few people giving it five with no further comment – looks like staff trying to boost the rating.One reviewer actually said he would have given it 0 out of 5 if he could have done. Thinking of it, that means it would score 1 out of 5 even if it was the worst place in the world.

If they think you order the pills too far in advance they won’t let you have them. If you order them just in time, the system breaks.

Of course, if they lose your paper prescription, as they did a few months ago, they ask if your memory is up to scratch. That’s why I’ve started keeping notes.

At this rate it looks like I might have to try keeping notes about how to work WordPress too.

Just two library shots for this one – a man writing and time passing. What sort of blogger can’t even be bothered to take his own photos?

brass pocket watches

Photo by abdullah . on Pexels.com

 

Not My Best Day

It’s been another flattish sort of day. I spoke to a nurse practitioner from Rheumatology again today. She was not the same one that I spoke to last week and didn’t have any notes relating to what had been discussed last week.

This was disappointing and inefficient, but it’s happened before. I’m trying my best to be nice to NHS staff during this time of stress. Actually, I try to be nice to NHS staff all the time, but they sometimes make it very difficult.

This proved to be the high point of the discussion, which went rapidly downhill. In the end all the points I’d agreed with the other nurse last week were reversed. She did not like me pointing this out.

She also contradicted the advice given by the doctor a few weeks ago – that I should stay indoors and avoid shops – by telling me I was ‘not special’ and could use public transport.

I’m going to carry on being nice to NHS staff, by not covering the whole conversation and not giving my views. She has, she said, come out of retirement to help out during the crisis. Though I am grateful to her for her efforts, I can’t help reflecting that she was trained in the days when the NHS was less concerned with the dignity of the patient, as it is now called.

An example is how they used to administer spinal anaesthetics. I went in about 16 years ago. They made me sit naked on a bed in a room full of staff while they stabbed me in the spine with needles. Last time I went in they allowed me to wear pants and a gown while they stabbed me in the spine through a gap in the back of the gown. Same stabbing, more dignity.

But they still used the same undignified method of inserting a camera into my bladder…

nurse holding syringe

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

 

 

 

Appointments, Complaints and Click & Collect

I can smell pasties. They are warming rather than baking in the oven, because I bought them instead of making them. In the end they will still taste good and it has saved time.

I couldn’t bake at the moment even if I wanted to. I do not have enough flour. I did have some on order for my Click and Collect run tomorrow, but I see they have cancelled it because they have run out.

It looks like I will be shopping in person next week because I cannot get a delivery or a Click and Collect slot for the next three weeks. Looks like I’m going to have to disguise myself as a pensioner again and see what is on the shelves. They cancelled my broccoli too, and the antiseptic wipes. It’s not much of a service really, even on the rare occasion when you can get a slot. Tomorrow I have to drive to the opposite side of town to do my shopping, but as it limits my contact to one shop assistant in a car park rather than dozens of shelf stackers and pensioners in the shop, I’m prepared to put up with the inconvenience.

Julia had an email last week, telling her she had an appointment with the doctor today at 11.10. She rang just after the email to query it but the receptionist said that the appointment had been entered on the system by the doctor herself and (a) she couldn’t tell Julia what was about or (b) why it was necessary to go to the surgery. You could probably have added (c) couldn’t be bothered to find out. To be fair they seem to be working with just one receptionist these day, so she probably didn’t have time to do anything else.

A few days later I had a letter from the hospital telling me that my telephone appointment with rheumatology had been brought forward and that I had to be at the hospital for 10.45 on Thursday morning. This arrived on Saturday so I had to wait until today to ring and check.

We obviously weren’t happy with these appointments as there’s no point in self-isolating if you get called out by the NHS to mingle with all manner of sick people.

We were on the point of leaving for Julia’s appointment when the phone rang.It was the doctor.

“Oh!” Said Julia, “I’m just setting off for the appointment now.”

This puzzled the doctor, who thought she’d arranged for a telephone appointment. Clearly, there is room for improvement with the system.

I then rang the hospital. It took me over twenty five minutes to get an answer as everyone passed me on or avoided picking up the phone. Eventually I did get an answer, the letter was a mistake and they would phone me to conduct the appointment.

So again, a system that isn’t working. It’s difficult to understand how, having sent me one letter with a telephone appointment, they didn’t just reprint it with the new details. This isn’t really a problem due to the coronavirus, it’s a problem with basic inefficiency.

However, I smiled and thanked everybody as they passed me on. They have enough problems without me grumbling and complaining.

But it doesn’t mean that I’m not going to grumble and complain on here – if we’d left five minutes earlier than planned, or if I’d just turned up at hospital what would they have done then?

Just to make my day worse the card reader on the computer packed up. I really don’t know why they can’t build one that lasts. Camera manufacturers seem able to build durable systems, why can’t computer manufacturers?

Fortunately, the pasties and ratatouille were good, and the rhubarb and apple crumble was excellent, so it all turned out well in the end. There is little that can’t be improved by the addition of fruit crumble.

Sorry about the lack of photos – I took an easy shortcut and duplicated a couple of recent shots.

Caller Number Two

I am currently Caller Number Two in the surgery system. I have been Caller Number Two for the last ten minutes. I know this, because they keep telling me, and thanking me for my patience. It’s very irritating. The only good thing about it is that it cuts off the twangy music.

They tell me my place in the queue several times a minute and tell me they are currently experiencing a high volume of calls every minute. At least they are grateful for my patience.

I’ve now been waiting about 12 minutes. The music has changed several times. but my position in the queue has not altered.

My patience is, I admit, being tried.

I’m beginning to worry that I’m stuck in electronic limbo. Or that Covid 19 has ripped through the nation and that Julia and I are the last two survivors of the human race. It could happen. Assuming that the TV stations are on automatic it could be several days before we noticed they were repeating all the programmes (let’s face it, most of the stuff is repeated ad infinitum at the best of times) and we wouldn’t know until we went shopping.

I’ve been in the house for the best part of 96 hours now and I’m relying on my computer calendar to tell me what day it is. I could actually be the last man on Earth. If I am, the apes are welcome to it. I don’t have the energy to fight them for it.

Ah! Number One. I’m Number One!

I don’t remember being as excited as this for a long time.

And suddenly, I am connected. There is no human voice, just crackling. Am I through to a disease-ravaged room of death, where skeletal hands clutch crackling, endlessly unanswered telephones?

No, there is now a human voice. Ninety seconds later my business is concluded and I am happy. All is right with the world and I have a texted barcode to enable me to pick up my prescription.

It took 21 minutes according to my phone timer. As I sprang from being 2nd to 1st very quickly I can only assume that the original two callers spent ages on the phone. There is, as I recall, an Edgar Wallace story about a murderer who killed someone by sending an electric shock down a telephone (my memory is dim, but I know a telephone was involved). Maybe the NHS should look at that as a way of cutting down on telephone waiting times.

Anyway, I can now go and pick up the prescriptions.

If I could only get rid of the twanging music in my ears…

 

A Journal of the Plague Year – Revenge of the Pangolin

This shutting up of houses was at first counted a very cruel and unchristian method, and the poor people so confined made bitter lamentations.

Daniel Defoe “A Journal of the Plague Year” (1722)

Of course, Defoe didn’t know as much science as we do, and probably knew nothing of pangolins, but he did know about people. It seems from the line quoted above, that people don’t change that much. It also appears, despite generations of scientific discovery, that we don’t know much more about controlling pandemics than we did in 1665 (the Plague Year of the title).

According to the link above, pangolins have been ruled out as the source of the Covid 9 outbreak, which is a shame, as it would be a good example of cosmic justice. It might also have taught us a lesson about how to treat nature.

As an aside, I have a thought about pangolins. Why not develop a pangolin which, with the help of genetic engineering, is either poisonous when eaten by humans or explodes when stressed? The latter suggestion is probably the more messy of the two, but would help to stamp out poaching.

Can you imagine the look on a poacher’s face as his head flies through the air after he attempts to capture a stressed pangolin?

Our day has mainly been about the medical profession. Julia rang the surgery this morning to check arrangements for her latest round of tests and was told that she had cancelled the appointment by text. She hadn’t. I know this because she’s been worrying about this test since she had the previous tests in hospital. I suspect that someone in the surgery has been messing about.

We have to go down on Friday now, ring the surgery from the car park and meet someone with a blood pressure machine at the door of the surgery. That result, I’m fairly sure, is going to be high.

Julia is still struggling to sign up on the NHS app and I’m still struggling to actually download it. I suspect the system is buckling under the strain. The NHS is not known for its up to date computer systems. If you remember, it’s only a few years since the whole system collapsed and revealed quite how bad things were. At that time their IT system was worse than mine.

All that took several hours, though it’s not like we’re short of time.

The featured image is books – I like books. They calm me down.