Tag Archives: NHS

Design Flaws


Sometimes I think that women have some serious design flaws.

I mean, really, is it necessary at the end of our useful reproductive life to have to go through the hot flushes, mood swings, weight gain and all the other stuff that comes with menopause? Does childbearing and birthing have to wreak such havoc on a woman’s body? Wouldn’t it be much better just to have it all spring back into shape as if nothing had happened?

It wouldn’t be so bad if the menopause happened over a two week period and that was the end of that. You know, like a mega menstrual cycle to get rid of all the stuff you don’t need any more. But oh no, that’s too simple. Mother nature decided that once we are no longer useful for reproducing things don’t need to be in tip top condition. It can all run to rack and ruin. I suppose the rationale being that once we aren’t useful for breeding then the caveman will move on to a younger, fitter woman and the old birds can just die. Not being able to run so fast and not having a caveman to protect us probably meant we would be eaten by a dinosaur and that would be the end of that. Survival of the fittest and all that. No need to keep things ticketyboo in the old birds.

Does mother nature, and by mother nature I mean that nasty old bitch, nature, not know that times have changed? These days we are more likely to live past the age of forty and our useful life isn’t at an end. Not only that, these days most people don’t end up as dinosaur fodder when they slow down a bit. It would be nice if the decline into old age was a bit gentler and kinder.

What the hell am I talking about? I’ll tell you, dear reader.

I won’t tell you in all the gory details so don’t worry, I’ll keep detail to a minimum.

It’s no secret that I am a woman of *ahem* a certain age. Few several years now I have suffered the indignity of hot flushes, blah, blah, blah, you name it, bring on the menopause symptoms. Note the use of the word ‘years’. Years! For God’s sake!

Anyway, that aside, over the last year or two there have been other things going on in my body. Wrinkles have caused my once fairly pretty face to look stern and old. My once voluptuous breasts now look like boulders in a giant sock. My friend with not quite so extravagant mammaries says hers now look like spaniels ears. My once pert bottom now looks like a saggy, dimply lump of jelly and my stomach, let’s not even talk about that. Everything has headed south. Not only headed south but headed south and taken everything useful or beautiful with it and massively fucked off. If I ever win the lottery I’ll book myself in for plastic surgery and tell the surgeon to pick me up by my hair, give me a good shake, trim off all the excess skin, sew it back up and that should sort it all out.

Changes on the outside are one thing. Changes on the inside are another thing entirely. Gravity, weak muscles and the damage wreaked from giving birth to and nurturing three kids has apparently caused my innards to give up the ghost and collapse into a heap onto my pelvic floor like a pile of dirty washing. Thanks for your brilliant design, mother nature. Bitch.

Eventually realising that things weren’t quite right in the nether regions I went to see my doctor who in turn referred me to a specialist.

Rather too jolly and farmer-ish for my delicate sensibilities he announced in a loud and booming voice to everyone within a three mile radius, “Right, bit of a mess in there. I can’t tell if your uterus needs to come out till I give it a good pull and see what happens. I can’t really do that while you’re awake. So we’ll put you to sleep. It if moves I’ll remove it. I mean, it’s not like you need it any more, is it? Hahahahahah!!!!!”

Not usually sensitive but I found myself upset and wounded by his words, telling myself to get over it. It isn’t as if I need it any more, is it?

So. I was duly put on the waiting list to have my innards tidied up and a possible hysterectomy. That was about nine weeks ago. A few days ago I got a phone call telling me that a place was available. I had my operation this Wednesday.

I’ve never been in hospital other to have my kids. I was terrified.

People moan about the NHS. I can’t fault it. Every single person I came across was friendly, professional and very capable. I felt completely safe in their hands. After chatting with the anaesthetist the next thing I remember is waking up in a ward hours later. It must be odd being an anaesthetist, conversations being cut short all day long. I remember we were talking about her lovely necklace and then…nothing.

So, it turns out that I had not one, not two but three operations Wednesday. Suffice to say I’m a bit sore at the moment. They tidied round, threw out some stuff they didn’t need, did a couple of repair jobs and some embroidery, generally making everything neat and tidy.

Now I sit here thinking about the looooooooong weeks ahead of me where I can’t go out, drive, do housework ( ok, not too upset about that bit) or any kind of exertion for the next 6-8 weeks. After that I have been told I must never lift anything heavy again or I will undo all the work that has been done and end up worse that I was before. That’s going to be difficult for woman who generally behaves like Tigger on speed. Sitting still really isn’t my forte. Maybe I should take up basket weaving?

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I only wanted a doctor’s appointment


So. After a few days of feeling absolutely wretched and having a strange tingly, numbness and heaviness attacking various parts of my anatomy added to my delightful half hourly menopausal tropical moments, I finally fell apart emotionally and spent most of Saturday morning in tears.

Mother nature is one nasty bitch, isn’t she?  As if it’s not bad enough realising that you’re well on the way  on the journey from Goddess to Crone she has to throw in emotional turmoil, forgetfulness, palpitations, permanent knackeredness and worst of all, hot flushes. Oh, how I enjoy those tropical moments. NOT! I only have to think a wrong thought and I’m off again. Well, thanks for all that, Mother Nature. Fook you too.

Anyway, back to the plot. I came back from walking the dog in floods of tears. The combination of all of the above finally proving too much to for me bear. Poor old Boofuls wondered what the hell was going on as I arrived home  sobbing. As normal he calmly took over.   A phone call to our GP confirmed what we already knew, there was no surgery on Saturday morning. The next opportunity to see our GP would be  Wednesday afternoon as we’d planned our summer holiday, all two days of it,  in the Lake District for Monday and Tuesday and there was no way I was giving up my summer holiday.

“Wednesday? I can’t wait till Wednesday.” I sobbed down the phone to the poor receptionist at the  out of hours service. She promptly made me an appointment for two hours hence at the primary care centre. Normally rarer than rocking horse poo I was so grateful for my appointment I cried even more.   The tingling and numbness was a real concern to me for many a reason I don’t need to share on here.

We turned up at the appointed time and saw a nurse practitioner. “Stand on one leg. Touch your nose, walk across the room.” I’m sure if she was testing for sobriety.

Eventually, she decided that she didn’t know what was wrong with me and said that she wanted to refer me to the medical assessment unit. In my naivety I assumed she meant she was referring me to a doctor. How wrong can you be?

We made our way to the medical assessment unit to be told. “Oh yes, we’re ready for you. Your bed’s over there, I’ll come and admit you in a minute.”

“What? Bed? No! There must be some mistake.  I’m only here to see a doctor.” I spluttered, wide eyed and panicky.

” The doctor will be with you shortly. There’s your bed.”

Oh dear Lord.

So that was me in hospital for eight hours while various samples of bodily fluids were taken from me, tests done, x-rays performed and reflexes checked. They clearly thought I was having either a stroke or a heart attack. Now I’m no expert but I could have told them that I wasn’t. I felt like a complete fraud taking up a hospital bed while women clearly in a lot more distress and with far more serious conditions than mine  were being wheeled in.

They did eventually establish that the tingling etc. is being caused by some damage to my neck so I didn’t feel like such a fraud then. I was eventually discharged with instructions to wait for an appointment for an MRI scan.

You know, we criticise our health service and it certainly is not without it’s flaws but when I needed help, help was available, and quickly. They were very thorough in their investigations and,  having established that what I was suffering,  while certainly unpleasant, wasn’t life threatening, they then made arrangements for me to go back and get it sorted out. Well done NHS – and all I wanted was a doctor’s appointment!

A drop o’ the good stuff


So I got the call to go for my four monthly blood donor session. Normally, even with an appointment it’s a case of turn up and wait…and wait….and wait while being force fed gallons of water. Putting up any kind of resistance is futile. “I’ve just had a large drink” “Well, never mind, it’s prevent you being dehydrated.” “Well I might need a bed pan halfway through. I know these youthful looks belie it but I am middle aged, you know.”  “I’m sure you’ll manage.”

Yesterday was a bit different. Walked in sat down, pint of water was shoved into my hand. No sooner had a started to sip at it than a nurse came to take me through. “Ooh, that was quick” I said as I gratefully plonked down the glass. “Bring that with you”  I was instructed, “You don’t get away with it just because we’re quiet.” Dammit.

I was lead through for the health questionnaire. They’ve added a couple of extra questions. “Have you ever been a surrogate for another woman’s eggs?”

“What? No. Does that happen a lot?”  “We have to ask”

“Have you ever had IVF treatment?” ” Again, no.  What’s prompted theses new questions?”

The answer was a bit hard to hear over the blaring radio they say is there to protect our privacy but it was something to do with the urine of middle aged women. “Oh. Right. Is there a market for middle aged women’s wee then?”

“Not unless you want AIDS.”

I’m so confused. I wish I’d heard the explanation properly. I wish they’d turn that damn radio down. I didn’t want to keep saying ‘what’ in case the thought I was a bit thick.

Next was the finger prick test. While she did it she noticed it was my 125th donation. You soon rack ’em up as a plasma donor which I did for a couple of years before the moved the centre to Liverpool, a no go area for any sensible person.

“You should be in for an award.” “Ooh, Can I have a balloon.?”

To my utter horror she wrote on my form in HUGE letters, “Does this lady get an award?”  Then put stars all round it. Oh my God!  I felt like I’d asked for one. I was so embarrassed I was happy to hide my head in my pint  of water and take a few slurps to hide my burning face.

Next it was through to the beds for the actual donation. No the finger prick test wasn’t it. They want a bit more than that.  The beds are arranged in the style of old wild west movie corralled wagons in a circle, nine in total.

http://workbench.cadenhead.org/news/3607/hamsher-and-greenwald-respond-pac-story

As I apporoached the bed a quick glance round the room made me realise that not a single other bed was occupied. Not one! “What’s going on? Why is it so quiet?”

The answer really shocked me.  They make a few appointments and rely on walk-ins for the rest. No walk ins had responded to the call that day so the place was deserted. Then he told me that in any case only 4% of people donate blood. 4% to keep the whole country going? What about all the blood they need for research as well? 4%!

What can you do when it’s a voluntary thing? You can’t force people to donate so 20 staff stood around chatting when they should have been taking donation after donation of valuable blood. Come on people!

Once my donation was over I was pressing on the puncture hole, arm in the air as normal. Would it stop bleeding? Would it hell!  Every time we took the dressing off it started again.

“Don’t waste it! Scoop it up and use it, that’s liquid gold, that is!”  It took a good few minutes to get it to stop. To the point where the nurse told me that if I wanted to go to the loo I’d have to have a nurse go with me in case I fainted.  (doing a good selling job, aren’t I?). Eventually it did stop. A male nurse, told me that haemostasis had finally occurred.  “What? That sounded really impressive”   “The blood’s stopped.”  “Oh. Not that impressive then.”

I was instructed not to use that arm for a while and to go and get a drink. Yup. Another drink. Coffee this time, with biscuits, very nice. I didn’t mind this one so much.

So that was yesterday’s blood donor session.  I live such an exciting life.

Autumn, season of mists and mellow…….wedding fairs


Yup, folks. It’s wedding fair season again. The first one of this season is today in Manchester. I bit off our usual track but needs must.  I’d love to say I’m looking forward to it but I’m not because I’m exhausted.  Can someone please tell me what age your kids have to be before you stop worrying about them?

Befoe I get started on this story we have an onions and roses award.

The biggest, sweetest rose ever goes to Machinegun, C’s partner, whos’s concern and caring for her yesterday was second to none. Well done you.

The nastiest, smelliest, eye wateringlyest (?!) onion in the world goes to the NHS and in particular our normally very nice GP  for their handling of my daughter’s illness.

Poor C started with a kidney infection and was in a lot of pain on Friday, a visit to the  doctor’s later she was the proud owner of some antibiotics, which she knew would take  a little  while to kick in.  By yesterday evening however  the infection was so much worse. So bad in fact that the pain had become unbearable and  by evening they decided to call out an emergency doctor who after a bit of a pantomime,  took three hours to arrive. Three hours!

At this point you need to realise that C is very stoic about illness and generally just curls up under a duvet till she’s better ( refer to: if you want to know what the daughter will be like, look at the mother!).  Even when she had swine flu she just waited for it to get better, no drama’s no histrionics, just an acceptance that in time it would pass.

However the fever, chills, vomiting and intense pain, the the point she could hardly stand, never mind drive,  made her ask for a doctor.

So,  three hours after the original emergency call a stony faced and unpleasant locum arrived to take a look at her. He did give her the pain killers she needed though so for that I’ll be eternally grateful. That of course is after our own GP made an assessment call and practically called C a liar, telling her that she should make an appointment at the surgery for next week.  Failing that she should go to A & E in the morning.  I am certain that there are people who call GP’s out on a whim and assessments must be made to ascertain the serious of any given situation. However,  One look at my daughter’s medical records would very quickly ascertain that she is not a time waster and  if she is asking for a home visit it’s because she damn well needs one.

At this point words fail me, There’s nothing I could say that could describe my apoplexy at his laissez faire attitude to my daughter’s obvious distress as she was on the phone to him, crying and begging him to see her. I’ll move on before I explode and start writing ‘disgusted of Darwen’ letters to my local MP – although I still might as I am absolutely LIVID!!!!

Anyway, back to the wedding fair – a sleepless night of stress, worry and anger doesn’t really make for an ideal mood for schmoozing next years brides and grooms, does it?  I’ll just have to suck it up and get on with it, I suppose.

Rant over. Enjoy your Sunday.