Tuesday, 24 December 2013

On Christmas night

This evening I had a revelation and what better place to have it than in a church. I listened to the lesson I have heard many many times before, Luke chapter two, verse 16:  "And they came and found "Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger."

Note the comma. This is a very important comma. A comma which prevents the image of Mary and Joseph all together in the manger with baby Jesu.

But maybe that interpretation is actually the more accurate. As a mother I know that when you have just given birth to an amazing miracle of life from within you, you want to do nothing other than hold your baby, to explore the tiny hands and feet and of course to breast feed straight away.

Your baby - equally strongly -  not realising that it has become physically separated from you, wants to be snuggled warm and close to you and to hear your heart beat, just as it's heard the beat for a whole nine months' gestation.

I'd wager that swaddling baby Jesus and putting him amongst the hay on his own probably wasn't on his  agenda, and likely he was vocal in that regard. With everyone being so tired, and not being in a house but in an animal shelter, what's the betting that Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus were actually all snuggled together in the hay for warmth. - without that comma. It's a scene most parents of newborn will recognise and far more likely I reckon.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Ho, ho, ho

I can't quite believe that it's six months since my last blood test. I duly turned up earlier in the week to submit myself to the phlebotomist. Then today I did something that I've been meaning to do for a while. I saw my GP in the hope that I could gain some reassurance about the odd twinge of discomfort I have in my right hip when I turn over in bed at night. It's been around since the summer when it seemed to be just a case of camper's hip - something from which I've suffered on and off during my sixty odd years of camping activities.

During the day it causes me no trouble at all - but in bed, by morning I'm aware that there's the odd nagging ache if I get into the wrong position. Actually I knew that at some point my right hip would cause me trouble because I was told that it had glowed on one of my PET scans - though whatever it was that showed up was obviously not considered symptomatic of anything nasty at the time.

After asking me to touch my toes, which I am able to do with great ease, and examining my hip, my GP said it was probably muscular. He confirmed that all the recent blood results were now OK - which was good news. However just to be on the safe side he's going to do a couple of other blood tests for cancer markers - just in case the hip issue is something more sinister.

It's a long time since I've had that awful adrenalin rush which comes from an irrational panic of blind fear. It's not nice, but it passes quickly once common sense takes over. All other cancer survivors or sufferers who read this will I'm sure know what I'm talking about.

At the moment this has rather put a dampner on the festive season, but I'm sure by tomorrow I'll have put it to the back of my mind - that's until my appointment with the phlebotomist.  Hey ho!  - or perhaps that should be instead at this time of year - Ho, ho, ho!

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Six month checkup

I've just come back from my check up. They take an X-ray to see if there is anything untoward.  There wasn't. Fantastic!

I cannot understand why the system demands that my blood pressure is measured before I go in to see the chest physician.  It's high - it was screamingly high today. I'd been hyperventilating, I was aware of that, and by the time I'd actually negotiated the hospital car park, the X-ray department and was sitting once again in the "pink zone" waiting room I could feel my heart pounding. It's just another useless statistic which no doubt someone has to process.

I nearly cried when he looked straight at me with a very serious face and said that everything was fine. It is after all a very emotional moment to know that you've made it another six months down the road of life which you didn't expect to have. But I still haven't worked out what it is that I was destined to do with this extra time; I'm still waiting to find out.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Thinking first

We're beset at the moment with one cause or another, one proposition to like or not.  And it's so easy to click on a link and pass it on.

I have two internet rules to which I do find it hard to adhere I must admit:

1.  "Never put on the internet - even into an email - anything that I wouldn't want the whole wide world to see."

2. Never forward anything or support anything that I haven't completely understood and thoroughly researched first.

And so it was today when a friend posted something which was undoubtedly just, which was extremely funny but which included personal details sufficient that both a company and an individual could be identified, that I hesitated.

Do you know, I actually asked myself: "can I afford to click on this?" - as in, can I afford the financial penalty should what I'm passing on not prove to be true, is a fabrication and therefore a defamation of character?  It couldn't be checked out so I decided not to share it.

Maybe I'm especially sensitive given that I have in the past received threats of actions for defamation from two of the best personal reputation lawyers in London. Maybe I am sensible. Maybe I'm too cautious. But at least by not getting involved I now don't need to think about that one cause ever again ................ well not until the next person sends it to me.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Food for life

It's difficult, and it's even more difficult when you get closer to Christmas.  Sugar abounds. It's everywhere.  There's sugar in things where you don't expect it; there's sugar in so much that is part of our culture.

Think about it.  Birthdays - there's birthday cake; at Christmas it's Christmas cake; the same for weddings.  There's working breakfasts with chocolate croissants.  There's elevensies with sugar-saturated biscuits and how about a cup of tea and a slice of cake?  In some cafes it's impossible to order anything which does not contain sugar.  If they don't have a cheese scone, then I go without.

Ah, but cheese. Well, that's one of my problems. I love it. I especially love blue cheese and having denied myself anything with a live culture during chemo, I continue to scrump cheese in amounts that I really shouldn't. In case you were wondering, that's what has taken up residence around my midrift!

However I do still try because I really do believe that without the change to my diet which I made immediately I'd been diagnosed with lung cancer, I wouldn't be here today.  And it follows that the metabolic imbalance,  that my body most certainly suffered in the run up to the diagnosis, could return and that's something I certainly don't want.

I'm reminded today of what I should be doing food-wise by Chris Woollams' email today which has pointed to me his excellent diet article.  If you've stumbled on this blog because of cancer, than do sign up to Chris's emails and take a look at the website CANCERactive. What he says makes so much sense.

My nutritionist says:  if you can't pick it or kill it, don't eat it - and ultimately that's probably the best advice when it comes to what you should be eating for the best possible health.  In this ever-pervading sea of refined sugars and compromised fats, I do try so hard to be good.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Buy with Confidence using the Trading Standards scheme - or not

Friends of mine have recently had a real problem with their curtains. They are not the sort who just pick anyone from an advert. In fact when it comes to trading standards, they demand the highest, so they are always likely to do background checks so that they can buy with confidence.

They bought some very expensive material and after checking with customers the reputation of a curtain maker, who is registered with the "Buy with Confidence" scheme, they handed it over.  The job was quite easy: a couple of curtains floor to ceiling, and three sets of much shorter ones.

The result: a bodged job, with seams not straight, hems undulating, fabric stretched, lining showing, pleats uneven.  Now I don't like making curtains; in fact I hate it.  As many of you know, I'd rather make a silk wedding dress and corded lace bolero. So I'm likely to rush a curtain job and make do here and there.  But even I wouldn't have hung those curtains because they were so obviously wrong.

Duly summoned back to see the problem, the curtain maker agreed there were faults.  She admitted to subbing out the job and not having checked it.  But instead of taking the curtains away and completely remaking them which would have been the only possible way to deal with the problem, the curtain maker did a few adjustments here and there, resulting in unseemly creases. The error was them compounded when the curtains were steamed.  The result of this was to cause shrinkage in one layer of fabric (it has two distinct layers which are intervowen) and not necessarily of the other.  Yes, you've imagined correctly.  The result? Puckering.

My friends were unable to get any satisfaction and now had ruined fabric and a mess hanging in their lounge. Eventually after giving the maker several opportunities for redemption, they resorted to the small claims court where they won hands down on all counts. But have they got the money? No. The curtain maker has now asked for a variation of the payment order and my friends must wait while the liability is discharged in small amounts over several months.

So why am I telling you all this?  Well the curtain maker advertises using the "Buy with Confidence" scheme and logo obtained through Trading Standards at our local Council.  The council representative has been entirely useless in helping my friends or having the curtain maker removed from the scheme, despite the court judgement which is a direct result of their own incompetence and failure to put right a problem. I see that the business is still listed both on the Buy with Confidence website and our own Council's.

And I've just opened the latest edition of a local publication to find the same curtain maker advertising with the "Buy with Confidence" logo.  So, if you're thinking of using a supplier and you see this logo, if I were you I would treat it with great scepticism.  All it appears to mean is that the supplier originally jumped through a few hoops to get their credentials. If they don't subsequently fit the bill there doesn't appear to be any mechanism to remove them from the scheme or if there is, it's not working.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Time to relax

It's been hectic for the past few months as many of you will know.  It's been hectic for the nicest of reasons; our youngest daughter was getting married and she wished to have a traditional wedding: church service, a procession to the reception in a marquee in a neighbour's field,  And so she did. It all went splendidly, nothing went wrong and the sun shone just when it needed to. It was only a couple of weeks ago - not even that in fact - and yet in that short time we've gone from summer to what feels like the depths of winter.

I volunteered to make The Dress which turned out to be slightly more stressful than I'd imagined.  I needn't have worried for on the day she looked wonderful, stunningly beautiful and the dress not only stood up to a whole day and evening's activities, it survived a strenuous dance routine that the couple had practised in advance.

When we went back to the house afterwards it was a complete mess - shoes everywhere, bits of people's clothing strewn all around, a half a bottle of Moet open and full of flies (now I know why she was so late getting to the church) and hair pins, make-up you name it, liberally sprinkled over every surface.  I didn't rush at it and I'm still preparing little parcels of things for various people to take away again.

Sometimes you get a horrible empty feeling after something really good, but that hasn't happened to me at all. I have a wonderful warn feeling when I think of the day and what a great time we all had and how much fun it all was, especially in the evening. All in all, a good wedding. And now, for the first time, I am a mother-in-law, which I'm finding rather nice.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Pre-planning application consultation

I'm heading my post with a really descriptive title because I'm about to have a moan and I would really like this post to reach the media monitors for the Department for Communities and Local Government and Eric Pickles.

I've spent most of today - a bank holiday - reading yet another planning application for yet another large dwelling proposed in open countryside. What's making me really cross is that I'm probably wasting my time.  I'll be wasting my time writing my comments.  I'll be wasting my time turning up to the planning meeting.  Why?

Well the planning officer dealing with it has already said in a really chatty email to the architect addressing him by his forename: "In conclusion then, I feel more up to date information ................ and  and further investigation  .............  In all other respects I consider that the proposal is acceptable."  Yes, approval,  given in this case some six months before the public even gets a look at the proposal. He's suggesting the application provides a bit more information and then he's home and dry.

The principle of a local authority providing and charging for advice has been long established, but in the past planning officers have been somewhat careful not to prejudice a decision. For although they might give advice, it's not their decision.  That must be made by elected members of the local authority at a meeting in a quasi judicial process.

Now it seems with the possibility to charge for the service, planning officers are raking in the cash for their local authorities by spending large amounts of time actually assisting developers.  Working with them on the detail in order to facilitate approval.

Now if you ask the average architect they'll admit it's quite common to distort reality when it comes to information in a planning application.  For instance the one I'm currently looking at claims that the site isn't very visible.  Actually it's completely surrounded by public rights of way: one byway, one road and two footpaths from most of which it is highly visible.  But you'll only know that if you have walked all the way round these rights of way and looked at the site from all directions - both in summer and winter.  Has the planning officer done that? - has he heck!

It's only when local residents get involved, when the application is submitted that the detail in the application gets tested and any bending of the truth will be uncovered.  But of course, by this time the planning officer has already made up his mind that the application is acceptable.

This isn't localism; I cannot imagine why the Conservative party thinks it is; it isn't democratic and it's a sure recipe for an unpleasant corruption which has crept into the planning process.  When you add to that the National Planning Policy Framework, a document so woolly and imprecise that you could drive a double decker bus through it, which favours developers above the indigenous population, we have a recipe for terrible and irreversible damage to this green and pleasant land.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013


Have you noticed it?  It occurs mainly at checkouts when the person seeking to take you money says:


Not, "are you satisifed with your selection madam; would you like to pay?" or "that will be £4.50 please."

No - it's "Yawl-right?"

I have resolved that next time I will answer the question.

"Indeed I am, I'm feeling quite chipper today, thank you."

And let's see where we will go from there.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Wind instruments and their players

The case of Mr Snowden is a conundrum. He is described as a whistleblower and he has undoubtedly blown the whistle on practices which have shocked the naive. I should say that it hasn't shocked me in the least since I've always believed that long-winded program updates have hidden automatic reporting tools.

The whole definition is a problem, I cite just one such definition: "One who reveals wrongdoing within an organization to the public or to those in positions of authority."

It's the wrongdoing that presents the challenge. What is wrongdoing? Who decides? Is it something that's generally accepted as wrong by society in general, or is it a specific wrong which is contrary to the organisation's mission, its reason to be or its code of conduct? And when is it wrong? At what point is it right to move from loyalty to an organisation, where you might report the shortcomings and seek to change the outcomes from within, into blowing the whistle?

I offer no answers only the opportunity for the reader to ponder the matter and come to their own decision.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Dear Doctor

My six monthly blood test came round a couple of weeks ago and I duly attended the GP's surgery where a very nice young phlebotomist, looking at my notes, said: "We haven't done the standard tests for you for quite a long time, so shall I do them too?

It was most a statement of intent rather than a question and as she said it a fleeting thought passed my consciousness. A blood test first thing the morning after a five course meal, with a rather fine wine, wasn't a very good idea. But I didn't object. I merely told her that she could test my cholestrol if she wanted, but as I would never submit to poison by statins, there was no point.

That morning of the blood test I have to admit I hadn't felt awfully well. It was difficult to put my finger on it but I described it to someone at the time as a "food hangover". I could tell that my digestive tract and indeed my entire body was not well pleased with what I had injested the evening before. I should say in mitigation that much of it - the artichokes, the bread, some of the potatoes, the mangetout - were either home grown or home cooked, so organic and entirely wholesome. No, it's wasn't the food itself that was the problem, but rather the quantity of the injestion. I awoke with a fuzzy feeling in my head, a lethargy and a definite resolve not to overdo it again.

Remember, since my-body-is-a-temple diet which I assumed during chemo, I've drunk little alcohol, and I resort to puddings, cakes or biscuits only on special occasions. I try to avoid suger altogether. So the desert course which I'd prepared, consisting predominantly of sugar and cream - and of which I'd sampled a goodly portion - must have been an incredible shock to my pancreas and my poor old liver quite rightly was reeling from unaccustomed processing of alcohol and other excess substances. The results of the blood test were therefore predictable.

I always ring for results because I like to chart the readings on my own records so that I can see if things are as they always are or departing from the norm. I figure that my norm is not necessarily other people's. I scored well for T4 and TSH - very reassuring - and also for haemoglobin which delighted me because I'd wondered if, after chemo, I'd ever get it up to a decent score again. But liver function and glucose? The receptionist said they were going to write me a letter because I was "borderline". "Borderline" is a very interesting word. It conjures up all sorts of thoughts. I like to take borderline to be a warning. "Don't step over this mark", "Mind the gap" - that sort of warning. And of course I'm not surprised that I'm borderline because I felt distinctly right over the border and on enemy territory that morning after the night before.

I duly booked a telephone call with my GP, who tried to ring but I missed his call. He then went on holiday, leaving me with wondering how to get this black mark removed from my records; well not removed, but neutralised. Having to explain the whole thing to another GP seems a bit daft, so instead I have written a nice letter explaining the five course meal, documenting the very good wine and the quality of the food and thereby explaining the over-indulgence. I've asked that - if he thinks my explanation adequately explains the "borderline" - he lets me off on the promise of good behaviour which is extremely likely because I've got to get into my mother-of-the-bride outfit in a mere six weeks.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

To die, to sleep ....... or to pass?

Have you noticed that we've all become immortal these days.  No-one every dies.  They pass. They often don't even pass away. They just .... pass. Even the vicar at the funeral I attended today talked about passing.

People die. They have died.  They are dying. We all die.  Noel Coward, bless him, made great humour out of it in Blythe Spirit.  Do see it if you never have - it's an excellent play.

Is it going to move like water closet to lavatory and toilet, to little girl's room or other silly phrases, I wonder?  Maybe we died in the past, passed in the present and perhaps we'll move through in the future.

Just listen the next time there's news of a bereavement and see if you can spot the reluctance to say the word

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

There should be a word for it

Back at the start of March it was necessary for me to do something.  I'm not going to tell you what because I think by describing what I did I will detract from the meaning of this post.  The thing that I did was necessary and I made a conscious effort to do it, but in so doing I made a most awful mistake. 

It wasn't the sort of error that can be put down to misunderstanding or accident.  It was the sort of error that cannot be explained.  An error which has no substance for an explanation.  I even looked back in my diary to see if I'd been traumatised by an event, an anniversary - something to explain it.  There was none. 

It's an error which can be put right - not by me, unfortunately, but by a third party.  So I need not worry - though I do.  I worry principally becase there is no explanation for the crass stupidity of my actions.  The only way to explain away the error is to assume I had a moment of insanity. 

So if I had a moment of insanity, what are the consequences?  It's not the consequences of this particular error that really worry me; it's the consequences of some subsequent mistake which could be far more serious.  Am I going to be subject to increasing moments of insanity I wonder? It wasn't something caused by failure to remember, so I think we can count out dementia.

I was recounting the tale - not the substance - but the tale, to another seemingly sane and intelligent individual the other day.  Guess what? They told me they'd recently done something identical and made a mistake for which the reason can only be temporary insanity.  I didn't ask them for chapter and verse; when this happens it's far too embarrassing to admit it to anyone other than those who have to know.  We exchanged notes and it seems I'm not alone.  That of course makes me feel a little better, though now I am concerned about my friend too!

I'm convinced that there should be a word for it - as in The Meaning Of Liff . I've decided on Cublington.

(I should say that Cublington is a delightful place and in many ways does not deserve this distinction.  However perhaps there is some slight synergy here because it was almost the site of one of the most potential and catastrophic disasters for Buckinghamshire: the Third London Airport. )

So I give you -

Cublington: a terrible personal error with potentially serious consequences, only discovered later and having no rational explanation other than a moment of complete insanity on the part of the perpetrator.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Breathing normally again

I think I told you I was getting a bit twitched up about my impending appointment.  Well it was yesterday afternoon and it's come and gone, there's nothing suspicious on my x-ray and my next check up is six months away.

(My blood pressure was high; unsurprising.  I was anything by relaxed. Why do they take it? What conceivable good is the measurement?  The nurse ignores it; the consultant doesn't even look at it.)

This morning the world has a completely different complexion.  What a difference a day makes!

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

God bless the NHS

Well, after another blunderous episode of uncoordinated bureacracy, you can't really say anything other than: God bless the NHS.

So up at the break of sparrows today, I drove mum to her local hospital - about half an hour's drive from here, more in a rush-hour.  But we were early.  Remember that blasted corridor that serves as a waiting room.  We arrived back there. Nice and warm - probably warm all the way up to the atrium roof - a good thirty feet I reckon.  Terrible waste of hot air.

All shutters down on Reception; even the computerised system was not switched on.  7.30 and we were due at 8 am.  We sat down to wait.  Eventually the computerised system sprang into action. Mum on my instruction coped with it fabulously, only to be rewarded with: sorry, we don't recognise this appointment, talk to reception. Problem: shutters still down on reception desk.  Odd people scurry around. 

Eventually 10 minutes after mum was due, I said: Let's have a look at that letter with the appointment.  Ah, solution - we were supposed to be upstairs at the eye theatre unit.  Stairs - I look around.  None. Lifts - none.  Sign showing "theatres" - not "eye theatres".   Should we follow that?  I ask someone. She points in that direction.  I say to mum - you sit here and I'll go and find out.

Through three sets of doors, two flights of stairs, at last a reception desk with someone behind it.  Are you waiting for my mum?  Yes, says the receptionist.  Well we were waiting for reception to open. So are we, says eye theatre receptionist.  We start at 7.30 am here!  Are there any more down there waiting, she asks me? She assures me that she'll look after mum and so I leave her in the care of the eye theatre staff.

What are we doing heating an enormous reception void - goodness knows the capacity of that space - with no-one in it?  Not even a receptionist.  What's the use of a computerised check-in system if it doesn't list all the patients?  Ah and there was the tap on in the ladies, running at full tilt and had probably been doing so all night!!  Yes, it's my money, it's your money and it's probably the equivalent of several hip replacements over a year or so. Good bless the dear old NHS.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

After all these years

Those who know us well will appreciate that it's rare we are early adopters of new technology.  This was not always the case for way back in the 70s we had an electric shower installed.  Since that time we've replaced it on more than one occasion with improving models, but always the result has been a gentle flow of water which dwindles right down in the depth of winter.

You see, electric showers - and I mean the ones that run directly from the cold water feed - are dependent upon several things: the pressure of the water, the ambient temperature of that water feed and the length of time spent under the shower. The shower always starts off really hot because the water in the pipe in the house is already warmer, but as more water from outside comes through, the temperature reduces - either that or you have to turn the flow down. It has only been in mid summer, when temperatures have occasionally become near-tropical, that we've had a generous shower of water from the device.

So when the Caravanning & Camping magazine carried sale offer for a device which purported to remedy the situation, we were eager to try it out.  We ordered a JetStormE from Ecocamel. I can't tell you how delighted I was with my first shower of the week. After all these years we now have a shower which won't embarrass me when we have visitors!  The technology is so simple in theory, but it really does work. Yes, I've written to tell the company of my satisfaction with their product and I also think they deserve an accolade and link here.  I see that the model I've bought is still on special offer - so if this story resonates with you, you know what to do. 

Monday, 29 April 2013

Architectural blunder

Last week I accompanied my mother to her local hospital for a pre-op assessment (she's having a second cataract done - it's nothing serious.)

The building we went to was new and externally had a sort of 60s-retro style.  Lovely big glass automatic opening doors into a small lobby then another set of big glass automatic doors.  We entered what was in effect an atrium, the space reaching up another two, or was it three, storeys. Nice comfortable chairs were provided, a real coffee maker, snacks and even new computerised login system which I made my mother use, on the basis that it was educational for her to do so.

We sat in this enormous space - in fact I sat in it for an hour and a half.  What is it with the NHS?  What is it that they don't understand about time-keeping?  When she eventually reappeared I said, "did they apologise for keeping you waiting?"  "Goodness no," was her reply.  Even to my mother the concept of an apology for delay would have been extraordinary.
But it's common courtesy to apologise isn't it?  And maybe, just maybe, the outcomes from the public who so commonly don't turn up for appointments that multiple appointments are booked at the same time, might be improved if staff said: sorry.  Just think, it could result in a whole culture change. 

"I'm terribly sorry Mrs G that we have kept you waiting for 40 minutes and such is the process we have here, we're afraid you're going to be sitting around in various other waiting rooms for probably another hour." What would it cost?  I'm sure a time and motion guru somewhere could put a price on 39 words. It wouldn't be much. 

Would that not improve things so much? Would it not make one feel warm and cuddly towards the much put-upon and underpaid staff?  Would one not feel much more disposed to make their life easier, better, happier. Would one not smile in gratitude and appreciation.  Could this be the one thing which revolutionises the NHS - remember that butterfly flapping its wings in the jungle somewhere.

However that's not actually the purpose of this post.  That's just a rant. The purpose is to tell you what happened when more than one person - or when one person walked quickly - through the double doors and lobby.  The cold wind came in.  But there was worse to come. What happened when the similar arrangement at the other end of this some 50-yard-long corridor, where there was a similar automatic door system, was that an enormous gust of wind travelled the entire length of the atrium, knocking out what heat there might have been and creating an enormous draught

I remarked upon this when I drove my mother home.  She told me that it had been even colder there during deepest winter and on one visit she'd remarked to the ladies on reception how cold they must be.  Apparently they each had an electric heater at their feet! That, dear readers, is just one of the holes into which our desperately-needed NHS money is pouring.

Friday, 12 April 2013

It makes you chuckle

I'm not one for reading other people's blogs very often - I dip in and out of them, just to catch up, rather like people catch up with me here.But one in particular makes me laugh out loud very often and I think it would be rather selfish of me not to share it with you.

The thoughts of Archdruid Eileen of the Beaker Folk of Husborne Crawley contain many gems of pure wisdom.  Eileen often writes new liturgies. This is one of her finest and if you have even the slightest knowledge of the Book of Psalms this Lament for those lost in Ikea will amuse you. Enjoy!

Monday, 25 March 2013

Bronchial athletics

Well, it happened.  The thing I'd been dreading since surviving lung cancer happened when the nasty snotty cold which started with a horrid sore throat, climbed down into my remaining right lung lobe. Why couldn't it have chosen the left hand side I wonder? The reason I'd been dreading it was that I wasn't sure how easy it would be to clear that lobe. The answer is, quite difficult. 

I've had to perform some bronchial athletics.  I found the barking deer (well that's what it sounds like) method of moving excess fluids up the tubes most useful.  The physio at the hospital introduced me to it after the lung lobes removal and my mum tells me its something she learnt at yoga. 

Here's how you do it. Instead of during a normal cough, when you start by closing your throat in order to raise the pressure in the lung, you keep you throat open and use your chest muscles in exactly the same way but push the air out throught he open throat.  Several puffs usually do the trick - and then an ordinary cough sorts out the remainder..

I'm assuming that the reason clearing the lobe is so difficult is that it's floating around in a load of space that it never bargained on occupying, therefore making the effect of the muscle activity less effective than it would otherwise be. 

Hey ho - another couple of days and it should all be over and I'll be back to living as if nothing extraordinary ever happened to me.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Ear, ear

I went to see the GP the other day.  "How's your commissioning?" I asked him just to brighten up the encouter.  He looked terribly tired when I walked in. He was probably contemplating, as he trawled hrough my notes, that in all likelihood I'd come with a new sympton, something ominous, and that he'd potentially have to be the bearer of bad tidings. I felt awful sorry for him.

I'd actually gone just to ask him to have a quick look down my left ear, to check out the annoying piece of wax that appends itself to my eardrum every morning and gives me what I call clicky ear.  It all took about two minutes and I left him with a smile on his face and I hope in lighter heart.

What did he say about the commissioning you're wondering. Well, it was something trite and quite clever - and pretty well meaningless.  I didn't feel it appropriate to go into a protracted conversation as he was at the end of a long clinic. But I do wonder what he thinks.

I can't make up my mind about all this reorganisation. I'm reminded of that quote - purporting to be Roman but evidence for which no-one can find: “We trained hard, but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams we would be reorganised. … I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganising; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency and demoralisation.”

As long as I've been aware of the National Health Service (about 57 years) it's been in a state of permanent reorganisation. Being a folk singer it would be only too easy to sing about the old service and praise it.  But could I really praise all the waiting in the old village hall to see the GP in a tiny cold side room?  Would I really want to go back to the days of our family GP leaning on our mantlepiece, smoking another cigarette, drinking a cup of tea before checking out my latest bout of tonsilitis and ear-ache?

There's no doubt it needs a shake up. You only have Staffordshire NHS as an example of why the NHS needs urgent reform. Are the new plans going to be any better? Well I really don't know and that's why I've refrained from joining any of the many Facebook campaigns or writing to my MP to complain.  I simply don't know.  As long as the service is free at the point of delivery - and that's the baseline I think - does it really matter who does what and how?  I'm not  happy about shareholders taking a cut but, given the economic state of the country, if it's a choice of that or not having services, I'd rather have them. However, undecided as I am, I was relieved to hear just now on the news that the government is going to rewrite its service privatisation proposals.

That I am undecided on something will probably come as a surprise to my readership.  Well, you'd better get used to it.  The older I get the more undecided I'm becoming on many things.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Saved - maybe for this

One gets all philosophical occasionally, when one has been saved, not once but twice by the wonders of modern medicine.  Twice? I hear you say.  Well techically speaking if it were not for the little tablet of thyroxine that I swallow every day, my body would by now have ground to a halt.  When presented by my GP with the prospect of popping a pill every day, I asked: what will happen if I don't?  Your body will eventually grind to halt said he.
So as I contemplate the twice-gratefulness which I have for the NHS, I often wonder why. Why me?  Was it the diet? Was it the counselling? Was it simply that I psychologically I wasn't ready to leave?  And, in moments when I wonder if there really is a great CEO in the sky, who through some amazing stroke of organisation, charts each task, each thought of mine, I contemplate that maybe there is some important mission for which my saving was necessary.

It could be that it's tonight when once again I appear before the development control committee of our local council and once again I point out that the council's officers don't know what they're talking about - and am able to prove it this time with a photograph.  I know that the current activity which I and many of my neighbours are engaged in has been an enormous waste of time for all concerned.  Hundreds, probably thousands of pounds, have been expended - and months down the line we're no further forward. 

So once more we charge into battle, once more we will hear the officers speak about things that they have refused (well, there's no other possible explanation) to investigate sufficiently.  We should win this round hands down particularly (she says with her tongue fimrly in her cheek)  if this is the reason I've been saved. Otherwise, why bother? But there again..... I'll post when I know.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Green shoots of optimism

It's very difficult to remain optimistic while the storms of ice and snow rage round us or when unrelenting gloom fails to lift.  But optimistic I am - about all sorts of things.  There's green shoots in my garden and I'm not finding it too difficult to eat less.  Yes, I've put on weight - now back to size 18. I did so enjoy that move to 16 and in some cases 14, plus I've bought a mother-of-the-bride outfit which goes on - but only just and not very prettily at the moment.

After a very gloomy January economically I'm seeing signs amongst those in business that I know that there really are green shoots.  For a start, I've done very little work in the last year. My expenses will greatly outweigh my income - yet I've had to quote twice in the last week and have been awarded one small job.  Another I think I would have got had it not been for an unfortunately-positioned holiday,  A little bit of real work would be nice.  That's not to say I'm not very busy every day - I don't stop.  But I don't earn any money. With savings depreciating more than inflation, I'd like to be able to ensure an even keel.

On the health front, I'm in very good shape.  Every now and then I receive a reminder of what's happened and I feel the sharp stab of eventual mortality. But apart from that everything in my garden is sunny and very rosy.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Confirmed by a physicist

Regarding the post on electro-sensitivy, my cousin's husband is a physicist and he confirms that my theory is indeed possible.