Port De Soller Mallorca

Port De Soller Mallorca

Friday, 31 May 2013

Mr Fats day at Broomfield

The reception at Broomfield 
Well, if I didn't tell you I attended the 'other' hospital last Friday, 24th,  with Ishbel to meet with the consultant surgeon Mr J, a couple of junior Doctors, one from Bangladesh and one from Italy (and as I write this with the news on there is a report that there is a 80% increase of death if you have surgery on a Thursday or Friday in the UK, nice to know! Is that because the staff are thinking about their weekend off?).

So, met with the consultant who again confirmed that yes I do have a cancerous tumour in my gullet but that the last scan, a PET, indicated that the tumour was localised. He then went on to explain that there would be three further tests, starting next week, an *ultrasound then June 6th for a Laparoscopy* and then finally a fitness test, on a bike machine on 10th June, to test my fitness for surgery.

Once all those tests were done they would then have a video conference with the team in Basildon who referred me to Broomfield! It was the left to the delightful upper GI Nurse Specialist J B to go through the tests in more detail explaining the procedures and issuing me with another library of literature on my condition, very competent and put us at ease. Although I did point out to her that as it didn't come in Kindle format I probably wouldn't read it, and as it turned out, that was a mistake that led to an argument with the doc with the knife, before he cut in to me ....... More on the later

We were then handed off to the two Junior Doctors and both Ishbel and I immediately thought "The Big Bang Theory" for no other reason than, like Leonard, Raj, Howard and Bernadette, the two doctors were perfectly formed little humans; tiny perfectly formed little people - and if I may say so without getting another smack from you know who - gorgeous wee things - a total distraction, for me at least.

The only thing is, I can't remember their names, sorry ladies. But it's your own fault for being so distracting..... The Italian was from Naples and the Bangladeshi one was from East London and had never been to Bangladesh! Me, I'm from Scotland and consider myself British but there you go, they were still great and put us at our ease.  They had a a battery of questions for me on my general health issues and the symptoms I had been experiencing and then a wee poke and a prod before sending me off for an ECG and a blood test so they could have my blood type, should I need a transfusion during / after surgery. And during this poking and prodding they told me I have a heart murmur too, bit not to worry about it, do I ever - not really, but suppose it is nice to know!

Of course, surgery will depend on whether I pass the fitness test.... Oh, and after giving me a good going over and taking swabs to test for MSRA   So, although all these clinics are operating and there were still patients waiting to be seen and it was now 4.45 pm we discovered that the blood test clinic closes at 4.45 on a Friday, way to go Broomfields Hospital, no wonder then that more patients die going in to surgery just ahead of the weekend if departments can't wait to get out the door for their off time, is it!

So it was back to the clinic and the two wee darlings fighting over who was going to draw blood, I suspect my flirting had taking its toll on them and the pin prick was going to be a reminder to behave, but no, they liked me and were gentle ...

Ishbel. looking good 
Atrium Information boards 
When we arrived earlier in the afternoon, The Boss came with me, and we did arrive much earlier than our scheduled appointment for 3 Pm we were struck with the look of the hospital, very modern and high tech entering into a high roofed glazed main reception area with a couple of giant statues and their fancy patient friendly booking in machines so that you didn't need to stand in a queue, not that there was a queue at the reception desks though, it looked impressive. I wasn't in the system for the self booking machines but was on the system at reception. We were then directed to the atrium where there was a coffee shop, a WH Smiths a Marks and Spencer's and a Costa coffee and all

around the atrium were screens where names of patients kept popping up with directions to where they had to go. We had a coffee and a sandwich while we waited and eventually my name popped up and we were directed to where we needed to go, all very high tech.

Then they let themselves down in the Upper GI clinic as they too had a screen on the wall giving the names of the consultants and I suppose patients names would pop up too, the only problem was that it was showing doctors names for the AM surgery and my doctors name was nowhere to be seen. You are just left to sit there with none of the nursing staff asking who you were or who you were to see until eventually one turns up and calls your name. Well, we all know I can be a bit of a tit and I can get irritated at the most innocuous of things that most others would just shrug off, including Ishbel, but for gawds sake, if you are going to use this technology and put it on the wall, at least make sure it is being kept up to date, or switch the F*****g thing off, it's not rocket science and when patients are sent round from the reception area, it doesn't take much for one of the many nursing staff to at least enquire who you are, look at a list and at the very least say, ' Ah yes! Mr Stronach, Mr J will see you in ...." I know that they can't say, " he will see you in 15 or 20 mins" but any communication is better than no communication at all....

Which then brings us to Wednesday. So I was booked in for a 7.30 am appointment and because I couldn't have a routine ECG on Friday because they close early too, leading into the weekend... I have to get one of them as well, I was told by the clinic on Friday that they normally pick you up about 2 hours before but at 6.40 Am still no sign of the transport. I phone the hospital switch board on the number on the card issued by the Upper GI clinic only to get a recorded message that the number has changed! Re-dial and explain the situation and that my appointment booking is for 7.30! Can't help with that other than to give me the number for patient transport, which I duly ring but get no response.

Then at 6.55 AM 'C' arrived to collect me and I told him that I had been trying to ring patient transport services, he told me that they do not man the lines until 7 AM and that the first collections are scheduled for 7 AM or as near to, WTF, are departments not talking to each other or is this just a case of total inefficiency within the NHS and associated services, who knows, but for me at least very irritating. Just before the transport did arrive I left a message on the Upper GI nurses answer phone explaining that transport hadn't arrived and that I would probably just go to work, I hate hanging about ...

So anyway we arrived just before 8 AM and I was taken to the day admissions ward.  The anaesthetist who had me on his list for surgery for a Laparoscopy- this is when it all started to go even more downhill after the irritating wait for the transport - and I explained  that I believed I was in for an endoscopic ultrasound and that the Laparoscopy was for next week, He said no, laparoscopy today and ultra sound tomorrow! I said no one procedure today and the next on the 6th, so confusion reigned and of course I was also getting my Laparoscopy confused with my Gastroscopy that I had had at Basildon back in April, well there are all *copys*, so easily done for an idiot like me, so he toddled off shaking his head not knowing whether I was being done or not ...

The Polish nurse, who I think was in charge came to see me after that and I must say she was delightful and helpful and her command and use of English was second to none, just a pity that M the male nurse from Spain wasn't the same as he had to have every thing repeated to him, when he would utter, Huh! every time you spoke to him and not just me, other staff had the same problem trying to communicate with him and at one point he answered the ward phone, gave the ward name  listened for a few moments, didn't say anything else, but after a few moments, put the call on hold without saying a thing, nipped into the ward office and asked one of the other nurses to take the call as he couldn't understand what was being said.  it's just an observation and I have made it elsewhere in these posts, but I have absolutely no problem with other nationalities coming to work in this country as long as they can speak and understand the language, but I find it incredible that you have an SRN who has such difficulty with the language working in an NHS hospital....

Then Mr H turned up to discuss the procedure, the Laparoscopy, and said he noted that there was some confusion and asked who I had seen in clinic and when.  I informed him that I hasd seen Mr J on Friday of last week and he responded, 'no you didn't!'

Apparently I hadn't seen Mr J as he and Mr H were in America last week! Well I know I am probably going a bit senile but I know who I saw, unless of course the clinic notes were wrong and the consultant I saw gave me the wrong name or there are two Mr J's, so of course this got my back up and I responded in an argumentative fashion that I knew who I saw and I knew what I was told... ending with, 'that the initail impression of the glamour and glitzy show of Broomfield was being let down by all the little niggly things under the surface and that I had been receiving much better care, treatment and response from Basildon Hospital'

At this Mr H sharply retorted that I seemed to be blaming him for me having cancer and that at least, unlike Basildon, we are not under investigation for killing patients, WTF! I was left speechless by this little outburst and couldn't believe what I had just heard.  He went on to point out that unfortunately for me, 'coming from Thurrock and others from Basildon and Southend who had cancer HAD to be referred to Broomfield, and as such, they dealt with over 2 million patients and did I want the procedure or not'

So rather than say what I immediately though, which was F*** You mate! I said off course.  Before he buggered of he did admit it wasn't last week he and Mr J had been to America but it had been the week before thereby implanting the thought in my mind do I really want his guy near me if he can't even remember what country he was in last week .....

The nice Polish lady came back to me then to take my blood pressure, and do the ECG, I suggested she might do well to wait a few moments ....... she smiled

After all of that , I was first up and still in surgery for just after 9 AM so all of the aforementioned while seeming like hours wasn't that long but I don't suppose it helped them or me towards a stress free day and I was back on the ward just before mid day.

I felt absolutely fine when they woke me up, was on a drip and didn't feel in any discomfort, although I have to say and it was probably the as an outcome of my argumentative nature and his outrageous comments about another hospital I was probably the day patient from hell for the remainder of my stay and just wanted to get out of there, even had the elderly chap patient in the next bed complaining about my loud tapping of my fingers waiting for the drip to be removed and released and that was complicated as M the SRN from Spain, when asked when I could be discharged and transport booked to take me home, said he had had a colleague book the transport and they would get me off the drip soon, that was around 1 PM, I eventually got out of there at 5 PM.....

Now I have to say that in defence of the hospital, that the clinic on Friday did give me notes an the procedures and that I was due in for a Laparoscopy but I didn't read the note and that the Endoscopic ultrasound was for the 6th, even although they seemed to think I was staying in overnight and having that on the Thursday, but Ishbel said  the same thing as me that we were sure that we were told the reverse order, so it was all my own fault for not reading the notes, but that does not make Mr H's comments any more excusable and just as a matter of note it would seem that I was not the only one complaining about the level of service this week as I noted in one of the local papers, that a mother was complaining about the treatment of her 14 year old son at the hands of Broomfield, so not as perfect as Mr H would like to think, but then none of as are, including me.

Finally, I suppose you are all asking the question, if you have hung on this long and if you haven't I don't  blame you, as to what the results were, well, a severely bruised tummy for one

and the results showed a 33cm long tumour but with no spread. So, Mr H who came back to see me in the afternoon tells me that that is fairly good news and that after the Endoscopic ultrasound and the CPEX test on the 10th I shall probably be referred to Southend Hospital for Chemotherapy and then back to Broomfield for surgery... So looks like I am going to be a TiT for a few more years

Back to normal I hope tomorrow with a Carrot and Coriander soup recipe and a Book review of Henry Wood Detective Agency by Brain D Meeks on Sunday or Monday

Saturday, 25 May 2013

As Jules Said, (Not So) Freaky .... - Best Moments Award

Last year I wrote a post telling you how Ishbel and I met up with a couple of friends we met on Twitter. Well really it was a friend and her husband; Julia R Barrett and her husband Oscar.  Oscar doesn't do twitter, much too busy ... Anyway we became great friends with Julia over a couple of months and she thought it might be a good idea to meet up as they passed through London on their way to a hiking trip in Wales.  Arrangements were made and they duly arrived and, as I said this resulted in me posting Julia and Oscar, read it here

Well, lots of folks read that post, one of whom was Marylin Warner, Marylin does not do twitter either but she does write and post a weekly letter to her mother who has Alzheimer's, reminding her mother of their past conversations and the life lessons that she had instilled in Marylin and others and that Marylin, through her posts, now passes on to her family and of course to us through the medium of her blog. Marylin's blog can be found at 'Things I Want To Tell My Mother', here 

Well Marylin remembered my post, I think she is a little bit like Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory in that she must possess an eidetic memory to remember so much of what she has learnt over the years.  Marylin's post to her mother last week took a slight twist in that she informed her mother, and us that she had been nominated for a 'Best Moment Award' on one of her earlier writings and in keeping with the award she had to nominate others and bless her cotton socks, as well as awarding much more deserving posts, including Julia, she included me, that post can be seen here

All it remains for me to do then, is to thank Marylin profusely for thinking about me and for including my poor attempts at communication, in her basking sunshine.  That's what she does over on her blog once a week, she brings a little ray of sunshine into your life and if you have had a poor day or week, her soliloquising on past and every day events makes you smile, they make you ponder the meaning of life and they make you grateful and thankful that the world is not full of people who do not respect the rights of others and it makes you hopeful that because of her and others like her who have hearts that are so full of love and tender caring feelings, that this world isn't that bad, after all........

So, if Marylin Warner can take it.. My first nomination goes right back to her - just follow the links above to Marylin's site, YOU REALLY WILL NOT REGRET IT

Julia R Barret over at http://juliarachelbarrett.net/ who is, in the words of Amy Farrah Fowler, 'MY BESTIE on this internet thingy writes amazing blogs about her life and her books and then just to confuse us uneducated peasants throws in an in-depth, well researched, post on nutrition, medical matters or anything else that she decides needs to be ripped apart - and confuses the hell out of me and makes me laugh out loud, giggle and blush in equal part, pop over and visit and say a big Hi, here 

Penny Watson over at Penny Romance is so outrageous at times you almost choke on your own tongue at some of what she says and does and if you are a guy and you have a beard, send her a photo, she loves (almost) any bearded guy, if you have nice pecs, so much the better.  I suspect her dream date would be a bearded James Bond and a few Martini's but lord knows what she would do with him after the drinks..........

Lorca Damon over at Lorca Damon.com Lorca comes or at least should come with a health warning the pain that she inflicts from laughing so much is just not funnneeeee at all, but you just can't not revisit to see what she says next - not wearing a bra or bathing for 4 days, oh gawd my sides ........ I couldn't even put a response on there as I was scared of the reply I might get ....

John Malik over at ChefJohnMalik.com is, as you can see from the title of his blog, an accomplished chef, or so he says, and I believe   I have never had the opportunity to taste any of his dishes, but when he fires up the old keyboard and it gets to the correct temperature he can certainly cook a well written recipe of writings on a diverse range of topics from the love and care of residents in a care home facility that he was the executive chef in, to a farewell note to a beloved pet and a heart throbbing pedal pounding description of his latest escapade on his mountain bike although he really needs to have some work done on those hairy legs before posting any more photos of them.... 

Jaye Manus I have no idea what Jaye is saying half the time, I am far too thick to understand it, but over at http://jwmanus.wordpress.com/ she seems to spend her time giving succour, comfort and unpaid advice to aspiring self publishers on how to go about getting their own works published , she really is a good egg giving so much of her time to help others - another one of those 'nice people' that draws you in and you feel so comfortable with when in her company...

Pauses for a break.......

Well I could go on and on and I believe in the rules we are allowed up to 15 nominations, but If I keep going I'll be here all day.  If I have missed you in this posting please, please forgive me I am feeling chastened as I write this but I really do have a short attention span AND I will ignore that bunch above on the next one and include you, I will really.... But before I go can I make one more final special mention and you will understand why after saying no more, why I do for this one and it's for LESLEY

Yes you, Lesley Scott, one of my adorable nieces.  Lesley can be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/grouchymonsta and on her blog at http://clichesandcatastrophes.blogspot.co.uk/ Unfortunately for us the wee monkey doesn't post very often, IN FACT IT HAS BEEN OVER A YEAR NOW, SHEESH but, she really should she has such a way with language and in describing the insane workings of her twenty something mind that one of these days I am sure she will going from being a beauty therapist to being one of our finest comedy stage performers and or writers. There is a wee collection of her stuff over at her post, it is worth checking her out and while there, tell her to start writing again, we the public deserve to read her and there is no point in hiding your light under a bushel (what the hell is a bushel, BTW?) But get out from under whatever it is Lesley and Post, post post.......

Rules for the BEST MOMENT AWARD:  1. These nominees (now winners) repost these rules completely after their acceptance speech. 2. Winners now have the privilege of awarding the next awardees! The re-post should include a Thank You for those who helped them, a NEW list of people and blogs worthy of the award (up to 15), and the winners posted here will then notify their choices with the great news of receiving this special award.    Download the award's logo at MomentMatters.com/Award and post it with your acceptance.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Guest blogger: Ian Beckett - Suicide is anything but Painless; so why WOW?

As you know I have made many friends on twitter and one of them is just a couple of miles away, although we have never met in person.  Ian Beckett is a local councillor in the town of Harlow in Essex, you know how I feel about politicians, and so does Ian, bless but he still likes me, I think.  Ian posts blogs very rarely and so I sometimes miss what he has to say, but I am glad he pointed me in the direction of his latest blog which after reading I am sure you will agree with me that it took a lot of courage for him to sit down and write and then to push the 'publish' button on his browser.

You do get to know people on twitter and facebook but, if you are not close personal friends, just how well do you actually know your 'friend'.  Well as it turns out, not that well at all.

Ian suffers from a mental health disorder, I know you have to be 'special' to be a politician, but really Ian......  and he was hospitalised for some time because of it, eventually receiving  help to control it and he is now a genuinely hard working local councillor, married and with a gorgeous daughter.  From his twitter feed at @ian_beckett you will see that Ian is passionate about helping others and is so fully committed to doing so that he puts me and no doubt others to shame with his tireless efforts to fight for others in a system so loaded against them that it's a bit like being caught in a rip tide, but being a stubborn man, he just refuses to give in and be carried away - long may he continue to fight for those who just can't quite do it for themselves, the world needs more Ian Backetts' looking out for us and not expecting much from us in return.

Suicide is anything but painless; so why WOW?

I will start with an admission. I have tweeted and retweeted in relation to the case of Stephanie Bottrill, the 53 year old woman who took her own life in May 2013 and left a note laying the blame at the hands of the British Government. Like many, my reaction and actions were fuelled by the sense of injustice and the senseless and selfishness of a government that, faced with the real challenges of Austerity, lashes out at the weakest and the most vulnerable in society.

I do not apologise for my Twitter comments, but I do pause for reflection. The despair that many people find themselves in is evident and yet it takes a tragedy for it to hit the headlines. The despair is evident in the in-trays and in-boxes of MPs and Councillors the length and breadth of the country, and if truth be told some of those politicians, and yes I do speak for myself, have a sense of impotence. For immediate and meaningful solutions are beyond my reach or even those of the administration of which I am a part and that impotence is just one element that motivates the campaigner in me.

So why do I “admit” my tweets in relation to Stephanie Bottrill? It has been suggested that there is an inherent danger in publishing this tragic event and the fact that it is not an isolated incident and this needs some consideration. I am not a psychologist, although it is something I have studied and my studies and life experience tells me that there are people predisposed to suicide or suicidal behaviour. How they came to have such a predisposition will vary considerably, but in many case they are likely to have fragility, susceptibility and a vulnerability that commentators should be mindful of. What I am saying is that in addressing the real concerns within society, in examining and reporting on events, and their cause and effect, we need to be cautious that we are not simply piling on the despair. A challenging documentary on sensitive subjects will often be accompanied by a postscript announcement along the lines of “If you have been affected by the contents of tonight’s programme….” followed by contact details for help or support. This is not something you find in our newspapers and something you might struggle to squeeze into 140 Twitter characters (although I regularly tweet and retweet information about individuals and organisations that are there personally or professionally to help others). In short, we do not help those who are feeling hopeless without offering a message of hope or at the very least empathy and support.

These reflections have finally led me to write this blog which has been gnawing at me for a while. In it I will try to explain why I now consider myself to be an active disability rights supporter and what fuels this activity. Those individuals who follow me on Twitter and haven’t yet tired of my repetition will know that I am a strong supporter of the WOW petition – www.wowpetition.com. WOW petition? For the uninitiated it is a petition to get 100,000 signatures to stop the War On Welfare. It calls for a Cumulative Impact Assessment of all cuts and changes affecting sick & disabled people, their families and carers, and a free vote on repeal of the Welfare Reform Act. Visit the website for more information and please, please sign the petition (39,000+ signatures at the time of blogging).

When I signed the petition in late 2012 I had no idea I would get drawn into this, primarily, online campaign but the sense of outrage, solidarity, support, empathy and almost without exception good humour was overwhelming. Becoming part of what I consider to be the “WOW family” strengthened Twitter friendships that already existed and brought new followers into my timeline that I’m now happy to consider friends. Without a doubt it has fed and fuelled my Twitter addiction and rarely a day goes by when I don’t Tweet at least once in support of the WOW petition and I relish the challenge of find new angles to get the message out there (you can’t send the same Tweet twice, Twitter considers that Spam and probably rightly so).

During the last six months though, as I’ve become immersed in the world of WOW, I have had twinges of paranoia. A little voice (metaphorically speaking) has periodically said – someone’s out there saying “Beckett’s just jumping on the bandwagon, typical bloody politician”; “What does he know about disability?”; “Why the big deal?” Ok little voice – I’m not jumping on the bandwagon, I’m not typical, my knowledge of disability is based on my life experience and standing up for things that are morally right or wrong is a big deal. There – sorted. Well, actually not….

Many of those supporting what WOW calls for suffer from, or care and support those who suffer from Mental Health issues. “Mental Health issues” is clumsy construct for which I apologise but I’m not an expert so what you see is what you get and no offence implied. This is where it starts to get personal.

Family History
In 1946 a caring wife and mother died of cancer leaving behind a husband and two sons age 21 and 15. The eldest of these two young men was my father and both he and his brother would go on to experience severe mental health problems in later life. My father’s illness was a depressive one; my uncle’s was more psychotic and harmful to himself and those around him by all accounts. Both men took their own lives, my Uncle in the 1970’s at the age of 44 and my father in the early 1980’s at the age of 58. I can only speculate at the significance of the loss of their mother at relatively early ages to these two men. I know that my father adored his mother and memories of her often provoked strong emotion and sadness.

My father’s depressive illness predated my birth and pervaded my home life. I have vague recollections of Dad being sectioned when I was very young, literally being taken away by men in white coats; I remember visiting Dad in the local psychiatric clinic where he was frequently admitted; I remember understanding but not fully comprehending the distress that memory loss following ECT treatment caused my father – Electric Shock Treatment, as it was colloquially referred to, proved to be a lot more shocking the more I learned about it. I remember my father telling myself and my sister in the months before he died that he did not love us – so obviously a lie and in hindsight so obviously part of this preparation and planning, for in his unstable mind if he could stop us from loving him then it would make his decision to leave us so much easier. Sorry Dad that was never going to happen. I was almost the same age as my father when I lost him as he was when he lost his mother.

I accept that there is significant evidence of some mental health illnesses having a genetic origin, I certainly believe strongly that the environment in which one grows has a significant influence but I do not accept that it was inevitable that I would experience my own mental health problems. Yet, I have. My three older siblings have not and perhaps being the youngest of four in this environment was also a factor. I don’t intend to detail my full medical history, that is not the point of this blog but my own “issues” emerged in my teenage years, went unresolved for a number of reasons and returned with a vengeance in my late teens and early twenties. My illness, like my father was a depressive one and I remember soon after his death my GP saying to me “You are not your father”. There was however times I felt I was destined to follow his path.

A Downward Spiral and a Turning Point
Through my twenties my bouts of depression were sporadic. I took antidepressants with a degree of reluctance, as if that just dragged me further down the path my father had gone. I was never offered and never felt the need for therapy. My bouts were typically triggered by emotional loss – usually the breakdown of relationships or over-committing myself and becoming overwhelmed by the sense of letting people down. It was many years before I understood these as “triggers” rather than the root causes of my illness.   

By the time I reached my thirties I was looking for an escape route. Increasingly this route was lined with alcohol. I attended one Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and listened intently but when it came to my turn to speak I said, “My name is Ian Beckett and having listened to other people’s stories I’m pretty sure I’m not an alcoholic”. I was the first to admit that alcohol presented problems for me but it was not one of dependency. Of course, nor was it the solution to, or in any way helpful to, the problems I was experiencing. Alcohol is a depressant and invariably it simply dragged me down further.

Outwardly an extrovert, privately I was increasingly preoccupied with “the need to be needed” and anything that resembled not being needed would fairly instantly transform itself into an expression of rejection. It would take a full blown nervous breakdown in my mid-thirties for the significance of that preoccupation to fully materialise and start to be addressed.

Attempts at suicide are sometimes referred to as “cries for help”. Some suicidal behaviour is indeed that. It is also an expression of hopelessness – it says “I can do no more and I cannot go on”. Sometimes, but not always, that is accompanied with a genuine desire for one’s life to come to an end. I can remember an extraordinary sense of relief one summer evening when I stood in the garden and said “ok, depression, you’ve won again, get on with it, do your worst” – there were times when it was easier to quit than to fight. But by now I was married, I had a mortgage and my spiralling downwards was no longer “all about me”.

At some point my GP referred me to a psychologist, informing me that that there was a six to eighteen month waiting list. Six months later, following a melodramatic “cry for help” of my own I was an inpatient in the local psychiatric unit and eventually fast tracked to the door of a psychologist.

At my first session with Mr R he informed me that he would evaluate me to determine whether or not he could help me. At the end of that first session he informed me that he could. The sense of relief in hindsight is palpable – if I had been deemed as beyond hope, not requiring help (or helpless) my life might have taken a different path. Over the course of eighteen months, initially as an inpatient but then as an outpatient, Mr R gave me to tools to take control of my life. My life, it seemed had been something happening to me, now it would be something I would, as far as possible, determine for myself. I learned that putting my needs before the needs of others was not necessarily selfish, for Mr R showed me that if my needs went unfulfilled, I would struggle to assist other in meeting theirs. The journey I embarked on was not a smooth one – it was a bit like relearning the facts of life or having a second adolescence with the only constant being my acne. The difference that Mr R made to my life cannot be underestimated but, and this is a big but, I fully understand that what he helped me do was to learn how to help myself and protect myself by learning to understand myself.

That Cognitive Behaviour Therapy was roughly thirteen years ago and my mental health has not been a bed of roses since but nor has it been painfully wrapped with the thorns I so associate with the earlier years. I have experienced bouts of depression since my psychological epiphany. At best I have seen these bouts coming and made adjustments before they became debilitating. At worst I have accepted, eventually, though still by no means fast enough for my family, friends and colleagues, that I’ve need help, sought it and done something about it.

My Discrimination
I’ve never been afraid to talk about my mental health with those that I trust. It has been a painful journey but not without its rewards and realistically that is my expectation for the rocky road ahead. I have never considered myself as person with a disability. That’s not how I self-identify. Others may have a different perspective of me and until recently I’ve considered that to be their problem not mine.     

Various forms, from job applications, learning surveys, social questionnaires, ask the question in various ways – do you have a disability? My honest answer to the way this question is typical framed is to say “no”. In early 2013 I received notification that I had been selected for Jury Service. I was quite excited – yes, I’m easily pleased. However, as I filled out the form I had a sinking feeling that I was never going to see the inside of a court room. I had to complete and return a declaration form and on it I had to state whether I had ever had a mental health illness requiring hospital treatment. With a sense of foreboding I answered honestly “Yes” and sent the form off. Four weeks later I received notice that my services would not be required.

This is the only occasion on which I have knowingly been discriminated against. It doesn’t feel nice. I have deliberately not worked myself into a frenzied outrage about it – that wouldn’t help anyone, least of all myself, but have simmered and not always gently. Ultimately my experience is a one off and I’ll get over it. Imagine it happening every day though; imagine if it was one of the few things you could be guaranteed to experience on a trip to the shops or the job centre. It’s when I see discrimination of a far great magnitude I cannot but want to join the collective protest which, whether politicians chose to listen or not, Will Be Heard!

Growing up in the Sixties the theme song to the TV series M.A.S.H. “Suicide is painless” infiltrates my memories. Its melodic quality and ironic undertones were lost on me a child and yet the words, which cannot be further from the truth, take on a haunting quality. Suicide is anything but painless and the fact that those left behind or who literally have to pick up the pieces can require Trauma Support is not as widely recognised as it should be. Whether you consider it to be an act of despair, an act of courage or an act of cowardice, acts of suicide are not borne out of the ether and to be able to assign a single factor let alone an individual as a single source of blame or cause is naïve, nonsense and if gone unchecked potentially dangerous.

“So little voice, having almost reached the end of this blog, do you feel better now?” Yes, a little. However, I will feel a great deal better when we see true social justice metered out so that when resources are finite we prioritise the needs of the most vulnerable rather than use them as a punch bag.

Ians' original post can be found here

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Saturday with Ishbel

Had a relaxing day with Ishbel on Saturday and rounded it off with a meal at the local Indian restaurant, The Raj Tandoori.

It is a nice wee place and serves good food, even if it did start of life as the local public convenience, don't judge and anyway recycling is good for the environment, even of buildings, isn't it?

The day was pretty miserable weather wise, cloudy and overcast with a cold wind, but by the time we left the restaurant after a two hour natter, laughs and a shandy for me and the usual red wines for Ishbel, it was a thoroughly pleasant evening for a walk to burn off the carbs as we strolled home .....

Ishbel, always chilled with a glass close to hand 

Pilau rice, butter chicken, lamb peshwari and king prawn delight

The Raj Restaurant 

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Film Review: Star Trek Into of Darkness

photo from IMDB 
Went and saw this on Wednesady with Ishbel who I should add has a fancy smart phone and an Orange account.  Needless to say all you with Orange accounts know about 'Orange Wednesday two for one cinema tickets', but it can only be used if you have your phone with you ......  Ishbel, you know what I'm saying .......

So the second outing for Messrs Pine, Quinto, Urban, Saldan and Pegg in the genuis of JJ Abrahams Star Trek franchise.

Was it as good as the first, where he cleverly re-wrote history and changed the time line? Yes

Are the cast and crew putting everything into these movies to give us the viewer a great cinema experience?  Yes

Some Spoilers here 

As usual it was action from the beginning with Kirk and McCoy on a planet that was still in the stone age and the inhabitants worshipping a volcano that is just about to explode and destroy the planet.  The Enterprise has been sent to study the planet only but Kirk decides to break the Prime Directive and save it instead.  His first and not his last disobedience of orders and if anything he is even better at that than the original James T Kirk..... A sub text in the opening sequence is Spock being lowered into the just about to explode volcano with a device to stop that from happening and as usual in these circumstances, everything goes to cock and he is about to die - can he be saved or not.....

Moving along to Starfleet headquarters Kirk is demoted to first officer and Admiral Pike is given back command of the Enterprise.

Then we meet Mr Cumberbatch -latterly of the BBC's Modern Sherlock and a fine job he makes of that - in London, as the villain of the piece.  Abrahams uses a character from the original series reprised in the original movies and it works well.  Cumberbatch, for the most part is very laconic, but then, his on screen presence in this part really calls for brooding malevolence and he does it particularly well.  We then get a few moments and mention of an other original series beastie that probably falls into the category of 'everyone loves them and the episode' which if memory served also had an episode of Deep space nine 'dedicated' to them too, but not sure if they ever popped up in TNG, it was a nice touch and acknowledges the greatness of the original series and writers..

Ishbel particularly likes Mr Quinto and thinks he is so like Mr Nimoy, high praise indeed..... and I agree with her, Simon Pegg is hilarious as Scotty.

Overall a great 2nd outing for Mr Abrahams and the cast of this reboot and we both thoroughly enjoyed it.  In fact I am getting worried about my Ishbel there was a time not so long ago where most 'action movies' would leave her as cold as a flash frozen fish newly placed in the hold of a trawler, but she is getting right into them and I sometimes wonder if she is garnering new ways to beat the s**t out of me as I keep annoying her or is it the 'hunks' that are attracting her? I'm still trying to find out who Christian and Sean are that she keeps saying she would like to be the ....... well best not go there.....

My rating: 5 out of 5
Ishbel:      5 out of 5

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Radioactive Alert!

Went for my PET scan today at the rear of the hospital in the the car park. Why are these things in the car park in the back of a trailer and not in the actual hospital it seems like a third world thing to me.

copyright www.simpsoncrazy.com 
Then you get the injection of weapons grade radioactive waste and have to sit for an hour or so and then they come and collect you and take you to the toilet so that you can empty your bladder, but remember we are in a trailer in the car park so being radioactive you have to march back to the main building in the freezing howling May cold weather with one operative walking in front of you and another behind you...

I fully expected them to be wearing Hi-Viz vests with KEEP CLEAR, RADIOACTIVE HUMAN IN CONVOY, with flashing red and amber lights on helmets on their heads, but no just one in front and one in rear but keeping their distance with the comment, 'we're not being rude, we just need to keep our distance or we will overdose being in here every day!

And then after I've had my pee, and I was fully expecting that to be glowing bright orange as it came out, yet the morning was so full of disappointments.  The car park with the trailer with the scanner is located at the rear of the hospital, it's a bit of a hike and not really well signed, but never mind finally got there after being given some help by a nice young African doctor who saw my confusion plus point for the folk at the rear of the hospital. Got me to the main reception area where the funny voiced elderly European was sitting and asked me where I was to be. I responded PET scan, she replied through those doors, minus point as it was the wrong place for the pet scan as it turned out but I should have put my trust in the cleaning chap who asked if he could help me as I stood at the empty reception desk! If I'd accepted his offer then I probably wouldn't have picked up the questionnaire and spent 5 wasted minutes filling it in until the receptionist showed up, asked me my name, couldn't find it on her system and then asked me what I was in for... Pet scan

Nope, back out to the main reception, past the coffee shop hang a right and walk along to the next reception area.  There will probably be no one there but just have a seat and someone will turn up!

So, off I went and true to her word, there was no one there but eventually (it wasn't that long really) Jodi a nurse from the trailer, in the car park, without the toilets and who hailed from, shit I've forgotten, rambling again, numpty - I know it was America and it started with a P, but she was nice and took me into a little cubicle to go through the routine when someone popped there head round the corner and said, would you mind terribly if someone from head office sat in while Jodi goes through the procedure, just to see how it all happens.  Well I had no objections but asked Jodi if she minded as it was probably a review of her practices, did she really want to be spied on, bless her she didn't mind either.

So through the registration and the sticking of the cannula in the arm which was a baby one, they must have heard about me and my tantrums then a seat for 15 minutes then the injection of the radioactive waste material then the hike in the howling wind for a pee then the hike back in the howling wind in the open car park and then on to the skinny little slider bed thingy before being inserted into the doughnut with me arms above me head  and by the time they had finished it I barely managed to get the ******* things back down as they had locked in place and my shoulders were numb, for gawds sake people why can't you just do it with the arms down by the side and then buy a good photo shop editor suite and rub the arms out, I ask you,  is it me? Sheesh it feels like you are in there for hours.  If I need to go back in I think they are gonna have to handcuff my hands above my head as there is no way that's happening again

copyright: www.sodahead.com

Bonus material

Oh and as an aside I woke up this morning feeling as if I had had the best sleep in months and felt great until I had to have me arms above me head for bloody hours sheesh, and no Lesley, my sweet beautiful niece, I didn't even get to turn green like David Banner, nothing ever exciting happens to me  not even turning into a radioactive zombie

Monday, 13 May 2013


These are spam comments left on a post about some poor guy taking his own life in the back of his van in the car park of the Centre I manage

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They found it an enjoyable experience FFS......... Why can't they just roll over and die and give the rest of us a break, because I think, without them at least, the world would be a better place ....  

The original post was here

Sunday, 12 May 2013

A Walk in the Woods

Had Jennifer, Steve and the girls, Mollie, Shannon and Lacey Mae  over this weekend and I am glad to report that 2 year old Lacey Mae seems to be getting over her screaming for no reason mode, that's a relief.

Any way the girls thought it would be a good idea to drag grand dad into the woods for a walk, with camera woman Mollie in charge of photography, including a couple of self portraits and then catching Lacey Mae later licking her dinner plate, sheesh, you can't do anything privately these days.

Oh, and Shannon had to run on ahead back to the house as halfway through the walk stupid granddad realised that he had uncovered the ham joint he was cooking for dinner for its' last 30 minuted in the oven and neither daft granddad or Mollie had taken their phones with them, why would we on our nature walk of course.......

Apparently when Shannon appeared breathless on the doorstep grandma Ishbel and mummy Jennifer had dire thoughts about granddad (I've no idea why they would think there was anything wrong with me ...) until she breathlessly informed them, 'turn the oven off before granddads' ham burns .......

Mollie and Shannon looking at the noisy Parakeets

Moody Moo Lacey Mae

A fallen tree

The fallen trees' root base (it was a biggy)

Mollie, Lacey Mae and Shannon

Headless granddad

Shannon can't resist striking a pose 

Pretty wild flowers 

A wood lice 

Look, it's me, Mollie

Little and large 

Pretty trees

Lacey Mae can't get enough of her granddads; cooking (and it saves him having to wash up too 

Friday, 10 May 2013

Update: My meeting with the Nice Doctor

Well I told you on the 24th of April that I had been into the local hospital for some tests and that the initial results were suggesting that it was something serious, as if a sliding hiatus hernia wasn't serious enough as it attempts to choke your gullet from the inside... what the hell. I know tit, right.

Anyway there was good news after all, I don't have a hiatus hernia, pauses for applause and to take a bow ......

But we got a phone call last Thursday, 2nd May to go in and see the consultant that I saw on my first appointment earlier in the month.  Once again it was confirmed no HH but that I appeared to have a wee bit of a lump at the bottom of the gullet where the flap should be that opens for food to be discharged into the stomach and that this was an oesophagus cancer tumour which actually looked quite large,  he even had some high def pictures of it and numpty that I am I forgot to ask for copies to show you all, what am I like!

Anyway, the scan I had earlier was concentrated around the gut area looking for the hernia so I was back in for a couple of hours on Saturday to have a full scan to give them a better picture, I can show you the mess the kid made of my arm looking for a vein to pump the iodine in, will that suffice for now?

So the scan has been taken and I am being referred to Broomfields Hospital for further tests and surgery.  Until they do that they don't know if it is localised or not but I suppose the scan on Saturday will give them a better understanding of what they are dealing with, me and Ishbel and the kids, well we just wait with me having my usual 'so what' attitude, which is getting on a few nerves .....

Anyway, took a break from writing this and have had the other CT scan but have now also been told to report on 15th for a PET scan too.  I must remember and ask for the photos so I can upload them!

Had a meeting with my GP today and for the first time since 93 we actually had a conversation, I have to say it was nice and she has told me if I fell bad or just need to talk to call and make an appointment .....

So, that's about it then, no problems, Aunt Julia tells me I'm going to be fine and if I die before hugging a Redwood in her back yard and having a serious talk with Jake about hunting mountain lions, there'll be hell to pay, so I'll be clinging on  regardless until we save enough money for that trip.

No outpourings of sympathy here folks, I am still as active as Mr Fat has been over the last couple of years, and in fact since been given the news, have never felt better, so I'll keep you posted with any gory and funny little happenings, there's bound to be a least a couple in this little development that will be worth reporting on even if it's the fact that my death is reported at the hands of Ishbel and not the other as she decides she can't take any more of my cheerfulness , what,  I only said you'd think that, 'after 37 years together that the get out jail card would have have been to a party and not the grave'  ... I think the slap on the head was a tad over reactionary, and it hurt too, sheesh .......  

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Our Boss!

Got these postcards delivered in the post today from Sharon one of my receptionists, I have no idea what she is trying to say about me ?

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Pork Chop, Apple, Cider and Sage

Quick and simple recipe for you and tasty too....


2 or 3 pork chops
1 tbsp of sunflower oil
2 Large apples, cored and quartered
Couple of large potatoes, skins on washed and quartered
80 ml (3.5 floz) each of cider and hot veg stock
50g (2ozs) blue Wensleydale (but any good cheese will do as well
1 tbsp roughly chopped fresh sage

1 large pan /skillet
Preheat oven to 230c (210c fan)

If fat on chops, snip with scissors at 2cm (2/4" intervals) this will stop them curling on hitting the heat

Heat the pan / skillet and  over a medium to hot flame adding the oil.

Add the chops and brown on both sides, remove from pan and set aside

Add the potatoes to the pan and coat with the oil and roast all over for 12 - 15 minutes (careful not to burn)

Place the chops back in the pan and add the apple quarters.  \pour over the cider and the hot stock adding salt and pepper to taste

Place in the oven for 15 minutes or until pork cooked through

Remove from oven, crumble the cheese over and return to oven for 2 - 3 minutes

Remove from oven and sprinkle over the chopped sage

Serve, spooning over the juices, and enjoy

original recipe seen on Good housekeeping 

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Book Review: In Her Name: The First Empress Trilogy - 'Forged in Flame'

Look inside Amazon UK here
Look inside Amazon US here 
What can I say about Michael R Hicks and his 'In Her Name' books that I haven't said before.  The guy knows how to weave a story creating whole new worlds and people who live and die by a code of honour that is so savage that it takes your breath away, yet, at the same time they are a species endowed  with as much passion for love and life as they have for killing......

Hicks has clearly spent many hours in deep thought thinking about the characters of these books so that he can pass on a clear and descriptive narrative to us, the readers; introducing us to a new species on a new planet and he just isn't giving as a story he is giving us a living history of a species in meltdown over hundred's of thousands of years and then going back and telling us how it came to be.

This is the eight book in the In Her Name series by Hicks and his writing get's better with each book, that's not to say that the writing was in any way bad or poor in the previous books as all seven that came before, drew you in from the first page and you, at least I, didn't want to put the books down until I had devoured each story, and neither, I believe will you. When they ended I do believe that I suffered withdrawal symptoms and being an avid reader with lots of other books by other authors in my TBR pile, after reading a Hicks book you find it a wee while before you are ready to go elsewhere.

I am not going to spend any time on characters or back story in this review, as part of a series it will be meaningless to you and if you have read any of his books you will already be familiar with them.  What I can say is, if you haven't read any of these books and you are a fan of science fiction, war, and love with an anthropological study of a alien race from the beginnings of time when the Earth was still in a primordial pool and then bypassing us by before finding and killing us (and even when they are, you still can't help but like them!!!) then these books are for you.

Book 1 - EMPIRE
Book 6 - DEAD SOUL

and if you head over to Mr Hicks web page here you will be able to nab a free copy of Empire to get you started 

The pages for Hicks Books on
Amazon US is here  and
Amazon UK is here 


Editing for Kindle: 5 out of 5
Reading Enjoyment: 5 out of 5
Plot: 5 out of 5
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5