This is the post I should have written yesterday, but I had to write one to catch up on the previous day and then I drifted off to do other things.
In the afternoon I rang a dentist to sign up for treatment on the National Health Service. It’s getting harder to find dentists who do NHS work. I could do a couple of paragraphs on the evils of dentists here, as it’s a subject I feel strongly about. It probably stems from the days of my youth when i had a dentist who had the bedside manner of an undertaker, the tool wielding dexterity of a stonemason and a waiting room that reminded me of a crypt. I’d better be careful what I say about him as it is quite likely that he lacks the capacity to die like a normal man and if I upset him he may reappear in my dreams. It’s a whole new Horror Franchise – The Dentist. The film posters will feature an open mouth of carious fangs with various unspeakable scenes within and the films will be blamed for putting children off dentists for generations. Doesn’t bother me – if I make enough money out of the idea I’ll be able to go private.
So, dentists. Highly paid health professionals who, over the years, have benefitted from the NHS but want to opt out and coin it when they see an opening. I know we have a laugh about never seeing a farmer on a bike, but I’ve never met a dentist who didn’t send his kids to private school.
I know someone who has a private dentist and he is just paying a touch over £500 to have three fillings. As I recall, the NHS charge is just over £60.
I could go on, but I’ve hit my target and I don’t want to give anyone nightmares . . .
The header picture is bottle kilns (called that because of the shape, not because they made bottles. The bottom picture is a cup of tea at Middleport Pottery six years ago – not sure now what the caption refers to.
I don’t like it when it gets this hot (about 25 degrees Centigrade. I know it’s not hot by some standards but it’s hot for me. It’s still about 20 degrees now, at 1.30am. I’m not use to this sort of heat. I’m much happier when it’s cold. Apart from the temperature being more comfortable it’s easier on my mood. I can be stoic in the face of the cold, damp and fog, but it’s hard to be grumpy when our weather is rivalling the Mediterranean.
I have written nothing for two nights now, but I did managed to watch some old episodes of the Beverly Hillbillies on Prime tonight. We seem to have run out of things we want to watch, and this is what it has come to. Humour in the early 1960s seems to have been less demanding. The clue is probably that I loved the show when I was a kid. This is not a sign of complexity or intellectually challenging humour. AS I said to Julia – fro many of the jokes it was probably their first time on TV.
I had a call from the pharmacy tonight. I have noticed that the NHS prefers to ring the home number when they can. They tell me that it gives a better connection. this may be true, but it sometimes doesn’t get answered because we tend to suspect all calls on the landline of being nuisance calls and don’t always answer it. Just one more foible of the NHS. The NHS seems to be involving pharmacists more and more. They are, to be fair, highly trained health professionals, but they aren’t trained as GPs, so I’m ambivalent about it. Review my drugs by all means, which is what they are trained for, but when it comes to diagnosing and giving health advice I’m not so keen.
Today I got up, pottered and made my way down to the surgery for my 8.30 appointment. It turns out I should have been there at 7.30. I apologised and then asked for the blood testing letter they were preparing for me. I had checked with them in person, then on the phone, and had agreed to pick it up this morning. It was the third time I have done this and both the previous arrangements have gone wrong.
Surely nothing could go wrong today.
There was no letter and nothing about a letter on the computer. Sometimes I get the feeling that, to the NHS, I simply don’t exist.
After ten minutes of phone calls it appears that the test is not necessary as they used the blood they took last week to do the test, even though it hadn’t been requested at that time. Yes, at the time of the test I had not yet had the letter telling me it was due. When I got the letter I spoke to the nurse (who had taken the blood on my previous visit) and we agreed that I should request a letter from reception to allow me to have the test when I had a regular Warfarin check. She seems not to have known that the blood she took, and the tests she requested, included one I didn’t even know I needed at the time.
Are you following this?
It is almost as if the NHS does things that none of its employees or clients knows about, but as a lot of the budget goes on administration and management this surely cannot be . . .
Of course, in a month’s time, when I can’t get my arthritis medication because I haven’t had the blood test I will find that I have just been told a load of old rubbish, as usual.
Next, armed with the details of my latest prescription request (the one I have tried to collect twice already) I went to the pharmacy and gave them the details the surgery had given me. It took several attempts but they did eventually manage to find the details on their system, but only after I complained when they told me, again, that they had no details of it. Makes me wonder if I should have complained more the first time, and if they would have found it then.
If Alice and the Mad Hatter ran the NHS I wonder if it could be any more dreamlike.
The opening picture is of a confused old man, wondering where it all went wrong.
I am not going to say anything about the NHS today as my head might explode with fulminating wrath. The surgery and Pharmacy are, I appreciate, under pressure because nearly everyone is off due to being pinged by Track and Trace. However, that doesn’t excuse all the stupidity that occurred today, both with the surgery and the Pharmacy.
I want two things. I want to be allowed to put my own sticking plasters on my toe and I want my prescriptions dispensed accurately. Today I was, yet again, disappointed n both things.
I will say no more, but it does follow a pattern, as the National Lottery, once again, failed to deliver at the weekend. I hardly buy any tickets these days, as I know I won’t win, but, at a low point, and feeling that £71,000,000 might cheer me up, I did buy a ticket last week. If I’d have ignored the urge I would be £2.50 better off, and would not be feeling let down by those adverts that depict the lucky winner sitting by a swimming pool.
However, I would like to point out that if I had £71 million in the bank, I wouldn’t be wasting my time sitting by a swimming pool. I’d be reading in my magnificent library, breaking off at times to write as inspiration struck, and to dictate my blog posts to a secretary who understood how the block editor worked. At around 3.30 I would stop to sip tea and eat exquisite pastries with Julia.
Sadly, it is just a dream, but if I ever do come into a large amount of cash be assured that I will be equal to the challenge of spending it wisely. At the moment I’m just trying to work out whether I would have my own pastry chef or whether I would have cakes collected from Mrs Botham’s by one of the domestic staff. With great wealth comes a mass of complex decisions.
A woman rang today and asked if we bought unusual American coins. I passed her on to the proprietor, as he has a wide-ranging knowledge of American coins. It turns out she had found a rare Buffalo nickel (1913 San Francisco Mint – I’m hazy on the rest of the detail as I wasn’t listening). The Buffalo Nickel is a lovely coin, and if I were American I am sure they would be a pleasure to collect.
This was unusual because “rare” coins usually aren’t rare.
Earlier in the week we bought some coins off a man. He brought two small lots in- one bag of coins from his wife and one from him. He told us his wife was making him sell the coins he had inherited from his mother when she died last year. They came to £17.50. The wife’s coins only came to £5. So he signed the form and went off with his money. Six hours later we had a phone call from the wife telling us he shouldn’t have sold hers. He had to sell his but she wanted to keep hers. Then she told me she wanted hers back. That was, off course, a problem, as we had already sorted the lot into various other places.
She told me they were worth a lot more than £5. I couldn’t help it, I just laughed. It was the end of a long day (in fact it was 15 minutes after closing time and we were just parcelling up a couple of late orders) and I really couldn’t be bothered. They coins were rubbish, her internet search was misleading and her grading, as usual, bore no resemblance to the reality of the condition of the coins.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, we sorted out a selection of coins that resembled the ones she had and the boss, worn down by her whining, just gave them to her to get rid of her, and to reinforce the idea they were virtually worthless.
It’s her husband I feel sorry for, he had to get rid of his but she keeps hers. (He’s a little older than me, by the way). His must be quite a cheerless existence.
You see all sorts in a coin shop . . .
In other news, my blood test was OK this morning, though I still have to go in next week. I really must start applying pressure about less testing.
Wednesday produced some brilliant service from the NHS, who sorted a problem out in five minutes and had my delivery with me inside 24 hours. If I were a curmudgeonly sort I would point out that if they had done their job right in the first place three weeks ago there would have been no problem. However, it is the system that is at fault and an individual who sorted it out, so credit where it’s due.
Then tonight the warning light came back on in the car. Did I tell you about that? Ys, I checked and I see I did. So far that Engine Management System has failed to flag up a single problem but it has cost me hundreds of pounds for replacing a faulty valve and several trips to the garage to get lights reset. It’s the next step in consumerism – first we had planned obsolescence, then we had vacuum cleaners that need replacement filters all the time instead of a new bag every few years, and now we have systems in cars that need repairing even though there is no actual fault with the car. This is either brilliant or very annoying, depending on your point of view. To me, it feels like Volkswagen are picking my pocket on a regular basis. Technology does not seem to be good for me.
And that’s before I get on to the story about how I had to open a HP account to use my own scanner on my own computer. I couldn’t work round it by downloading a fix from Microsoft as they don’t recognise my account details. I answered a lot of stupid questions to try to retrieve the account and they told me I hadn’t answered enough. A big sort out is coming and the machines are going to come off second best when I raise the New Luddite standard. Thirty minutes messing about just to scan something for Julia, when in the old days, before the “new and improved” system, I could have done it in ninety seconds.
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.
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…
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…
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.
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.
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.