Monday, 26 November 2012


Now I've got over the euphoria of that good news I can tell you a little of what went on in the consulting room.  I told my consultant I was glad to see him and that he was still there, bearing in mind that NHS morale - particularly at that hospital - was obviously low.  He agreed with my summing up of the situation. I told him of my enormous gratitude to him and the whole team for my survival and apologised for not having written to him personally, whereas I had to both the chemo and the surgical tems.  My consultant suggested that I write to the chief executive of the Trust as that always boosts morale. So I did.

It was a difficult letter because I couldn't honestly say that everything had been hunky dory. If you read back through this blog you'll find times when I was at my wit's end with the bureaucracy of the system and other issues. My blog starts at diagnosis but right at the start I had a pretty awful experience.  I'd been sent to the walk in centre for a bronchoscopy.  The health care assistant who initially took my details was wearing a dirty uniform, she had a hacking cough. It was later proven that she could not spell thyroxine - as she'd started her attempted with a ph.  I bet she says fink when she means think and fort when she means thought!  I complained at the time and I made an official written complaint later. 

Anyway, back to the letter to the Trust - it was quite short but to the point.  I received an effusive response from the chief executive which he'd copied far and wide (because three hospitals and three separate trusts had been involved in my care.) He urged me to go onto the NHS Choices web site and record my gratitude there.

I tried.  But again honesty curtailed my efforts. Within about five clicks I was being asked to comment on the cleanliness of the hospital. I know from recent first hand experience of our local hospital that it is possible for a toilet to be left uncleaned for four days even when a patient reports the fact.  It was only dealt with when the patient located the cleaning staff themselves and gave them the instruction to do the job.

So I haven't contributed to the NHS web site. I'm in a quandry. Do I do what they want - say how wonderful the result was - but on other matters 'dis' the trust or do I just forget the whole thing? Currently I'm just shelving the decision.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Phew! - thank goodness that is over

Today was my first six month check up since completing my lung cancer treatment (held at 9 months because of the appalling appointment system at the local hospital). I underwent a chest x-ray and the lung consultant says it looks fine.  It was interesting to see how much more the remaining lung lobe had expanded - quite extraordinary.

I hadn't realised quite how terrified I was of re-entering the whole NHS system again.  My pulse was raised and I'm sure my blood-pressure - though acceptable when taken - was up too. But the feeling of elation when it was over was enormous.  I can relax again until the spring.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Freddie Starr ate my hamster!

I was initially against any press regulation on the grounds that I really wouldn't want to be in a country where whistle-blowers could be silenced, where politicians could not be held to account and where a less benign regime could abuse the original intention of any legislation.

However, upon giving it a lot more thought, I now realise that the genie is so much out of the bottle with Wikileaks, Facebook, Twitter, etc. that the press can no longer claim their right to first disclosure of public interest matters as a defence against compulsory regulation.  That argument no longer holds water. 

Ah, but I hear you say, how will be know whether or not to believe what we read on social media?  Well, in response I ask you a question.  How do you know whether the established media tells the truth?  It's a wild world out there in swamps of gossip and the only solution is "reader beware".

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

That's it

That's it, I said, rushing to find a piece of paper to write the exact words down.  Dame Stephanie Shirley has just been on Radio 4. She was explaining that still, all these years after arriving here as a refugee, she feels she has to "make my life worth living to make my life worth saving"; to "justify my survival".  And that's exactly how I now feel.   Dear Dame Steve summed it up exactly.

The other piece of information I picked up was from a contributor whose name I didn't record but he said "there is no such thing as an unwounded soldier".  How true.  I remember my father who survived the second World War against all the odds after being parachuted into France, bombed by the Americans and taken prisoner. He volunteered to become a paramedic, to parachute, and to carry out bomb disposal.  And yes, he was damaged psychologically in so many ways that even I as a child and young woman could see. I guess the stress also damaged him physically - he was dead at 61. It certainly put paid to the pacifist that originally joined up. 

Every Remembrance Day I stand at the war memorial thinking how fruitless and stupid war is.  I do it for him really because he no longer can. I don't do it to glory in the men who didn't come back or to satisify some nationalistic trait. Standing round a war memorial for a few minutes each year and donning our poppies forces us to face the reality of legalised murder by others on our behalf. It's still going on and we have to accept some of the blame. 

And in that context, how relieved I was to hear that Obama is back in the White House.  The endless analysis of USA politics by British media has been very boring, but today I was glad to hear the news. I feel that the world is a much safer place today.