‘Big up’ the NHS

There’s yet more discussion in the news today which downgrades the NHS and exaggerates its failures. NHS hospitals have been assessed as ‘bad places’ for the old and frail. However, the problem is not with the NHS, as Mike Farrar notes the issue lies with the community care provision and budgets. If 30% of patients in hospital don’t need to be there then take the pressure off the NHS by addressing the apparent lack of community health care. Hospitals aren’t ‘bad places’, they are unfortunately necessary places for many.

Another issue I have with attacks on NHS hospitals is the fatal generalisation after every media-hyped scandal. Obviously tragedies have occurred but no system is without fault and often it is the work of an individual not an entire hospital. Even the good hospitals get called up on for patients being ignored by nurses or nurses/health workers lacking understanding and snapping irritably at anyone who approaches.Image

I was in hospital for a week in November 2011 and since then I have been in and out for blood tests, Drs appointments and infusions on a day-care ward. Ergo, I can honestly state that the vast majority of doctors and nurses truly care. They’re reassuring, apologetic when you’re left waiting but most of all they are understanding, friendly and cheerful.

The thing is we are all lucky here in the UK. Other countries don’t enjoy the same quality of care and lots have to pay exuberant fees. So I say for once lets big-up the NHS! 😀


Dear Mum and Dad (here we go again)

I got into a bit of trouble yesterday after the parents read my ‘Dear Mum and Dad’ post. Well not trouble exactly. My Mum thought that if it got things off my chest then fine, but my Dad decided to take it far too seriously which is strange really as normally it would be the other way round. It wasn’t meant as a joke really, but it wasn’t there to offend and it certainly wasn’t there as a means of complaining about the parents behind their backs (unlike the two of them this morning discussing me right outside my room when they thought I was sleeping). I know they follow via email so I would have to be pretty stupid to think they wouldn’t read it.

So, after getting up in a pretty bad mood I have some more points to add:

Dear Mum and Dad,

  • Firstly, I would like to say that it is not my fault I am ill. In fact, it annoys me a lot more than it does you – think on that for a while.
  • I love you
  • Mum, you wouldn’t be my Mum if you didn’t get stressed occasionally or sulk when Dad and I tell you off for complaining that Dad is messing around when it was the little brother in the family who started it but gets away with it because of his ‘puppy-dog eyes’
  • Dad, you wouldn’t be my Dad without your bad jokes, constant teasing and perfectionist ways
  • You’ve always encouraged me in my endeavors, whether that is academic or otherwise
  • Mum spends days with me shopping or crafting which I do appreciate
  • You both work hard so we can go on yearly holidays
  • Dad may roll his eyes but allows me to keep half-made bags and cushions in the sitting room
  • Neither of you mind setting me free in the kitchen and creating a load of washing up
  • All parents annoy their children and all children annoy their parents – it’s a fact of life
  • In fact, considering the little brother and I get along and hardly ever fight you should feel lucky. When I think about other families we know, who bicker and don’t seem to spend a lot of time together, we are all rather close and this should never be taken for granted

(Do you feel better now?)

Struggling Along – My Life

What do I want to do with my life?

Today, I set off into town to do some shopping with my mother but had to turn back I was feeling unwell. Is this going to be the story of my life?

I want to travel.

I want to get a 1st degree at university.

I want to make a difference.

I want to bake and for people to enjoy my food.

I want to accomplish my dream of writing a book (even if it never gets published).

I want my voice to be heard (even if only by a few).

Most of all, I want to matter.

I want people to know me, like me, love me even. And not because they feel they have to, but because they want to.

At first my illness was a fact. It happens; people get better and move on. So why am I still suffering? I feel fine, and then suddenly one day, I can’t go out. I suppose one day every so often isn’t too bad, but when you’re constantly nervous you’re going to be unwell when you’re out you can’t think of anything else. You’re on alert – all the time – aware of this illness that plagues your body, your life.

Being ill throws your life into sharp focus, all of a sudden I want to go out and do things, you know? Obviously I did things before, but then it didn’t require much thought, I just got up and went. Now, I worry, I despair. I’ve been holding up pretty well until now, I suppose it shows I’m getting better that I’m able to get bored and annoyed, but it’s hitting me now.

Luckily, I’m aware of this despair, so I can do something about it, right? I won’t let myself spiral.

I want to own my own café, live a simple life and perhaps write. I’ve wondered about leaving uni, risking it all by renting a little place. Kind of adventurous really? 😀 But I enjoy my course too much; it makes me question society and people’s actions. So I’ll stick with it for the next two years and fingers crossed I have some money left.

Am I selfish by completing my course even though I might not use it? I don’t think so, lots people drop out and I’m not about to do that. In fact, there are so many students who just float on by without caring what they’re studying or where they’re going.

Anyway, enough depression and procrastination. One day I may achieve one of these things, hopefully more but for now I’ll concentrate on not giving up or crying over something that can’t be changed.

(I don’t know how long this post will stay up but I’ll let it remain in the blogosphere for now)

Living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

After watching Jon Richardson’s programme on channel 4 about living with OCD I wondered how common it is. I mean, sometimes little things annoy me or something has to be done in a particular way. For instance, if the teaspoons aren’t all facing the same way in the drawer and I have to eat all the foam off the top of a mocha or cappuccino before drinking it (do you eat or drink foam?). But this isn’t OCD, sure I get annoyed if my morning routine is interrupted but I move on, I can forget about it and enjoy the rest of my day. For others though, this isn’t an option. It’s either their way or no way.

What surprised me is how much of an effect this has on people’s lives. Missing all the cracks on a pavement is livable, might slow you down a bit but that’s all. One teenager has to tap the door frame twice on both sides when he walks through a doorway. What does he do for lifts? Automatic doors? He’s 16, been doing this since he was six and it’s only getting worse with little habits appearing for every action most people would do without thinking, like pouring a drink.

Why doesn’t he just stop? I hear you ask. It has no real influence and he knows it’s irrational, but it has to be done.

Another woman is practically housebound due to an obsession with cleaning, when she’s not cleaning she’s planning on what to clean, how to clean it etc by making extensive, detailed lists.

OCD is ruining people’s lives, it’s a killer. It’s a real issue, not a joke or something to be taken lightly. Lots of people say “I have OCD about this”; “I have OCD about that”, when really it’s not OCD at all, not in the real sense.

People with OCD can move up and down the scale, usually it’s triggered by stress. Anxiety over career, bullying or other uncontrollable health issues. However, some believe it can be genetic. This could be both nature (biology) or nurture (growing up around it and developing you own ‘tics’ or ‘quirks’). One mother, unable to bring up her son due to OCD, has to live with the knowledge that OCD was passed onto her son, who committed suicide as he impulses stopped him from doing anything, all he could do was pace backwards and forwards.

Jon Richardson was told he does not have OCD by an expert at Bath University. For this he feels extremely lucky, he has obsessive compulsive order, not disorder. He knows his ‘quirks’ reassure him, give him a little control, but he does not become too distressed if things aren’t ‘right’.

Living with OCD must be hard, it affects people’s lives and those around them, just as much as any other illness. If someone has OCD telling them to stop won’t help, it might even make it worse as they worry about their compulsions and impulses. OCD is treatable and people can move down the scale as well as up, all is needed is support and guidance, and the end to the stigma this very real illness holds.

Euthanasia – murder or a human right?

Recently a stroke victim, has challenged the euthanasia law in front of three High Court judges. Mr. Nicklinson, 58, previously worked all over the world as an engineer and enjoyed sports such as skydiving and rugby. However, after a serious stroke in 2005 he became paralysed from the neck down, only able to blink his eyes. Mr. Nicklinson claims it is human right to decide whether he should die and so states that any doctor who assists his suicide should not be prosecuted.

As quoted in the ‘i’ (sister newspaper to the independent)Mr. Nicklinson says “I feel I am denied my most basic human right; I object to society telling me that I must live until I die of natural causes and I will do all I can to restore those rights.”

This case has huge moral implications as ultimately it questions the law as to what constitutes as murder, and the outcome could affect many others who suffer from painful terminal illnesses or are paralysed. However, the BBC 2 reporter stated it would be likely the case would be dismissed. Could this be because assissted suicide comes too close to murder and change could cause huge problem in the future?

Many agree with Mr. Nicklinson that he should be able to make his own choices and since he is physically unable to act independently a doctor should be allowed to help him achieve his wishes. Also, what about his wife and family and friends; is it harder on them to watch one they love suffer or to deal with his choice in his own death? Others ask what sort of life does Mr. Nicklinson currently have? Does he even have a life anymore?

Some people say that new technologies allow those who are paralysed to communicate and live with everyone else. Mr. Nicklinson has been using a form of gaze-detection, computer software which detects eye movements so that he is able to pick out letters and the comupter device then forms the sentences. This technology means Mr. Nicklinson has been able to communicate with the outside world via twitter, where he has gained 8000 followers. Furthermore, similar gaze-control technology can enable the paralysed to play video games – an activity considered a waste of time by many, but for one guy, the one thing he could share with his son.

So, can it be said Mr. Nicklinson has no life? He certainly does not have the same quality of life as before his stroke, but can adjustments be made through technology to build a different life? Dr Donegan’s video –

– explains similar technology. One subject, Marco, says via gaze-control software “without this equipment, it would be as if I didn’t exist”. (Quoted in the ‘i’).

Or, should Mr. Nicklinson be granted his human right to decide his own fate? (even at the hands of others)?

Personally, I think technology can seriously aid the paralysed to interact with their families and friends. But if this is not the right choice for Mr. Nicklinson; I feel it is his decision and his decision alone. After all, who are we to judge a man who suffers from circumstances we cannot even begin to imagine?

The start of my student struggles

Last September I headed off to start my first year at uni knowing something wasn’t right. However, unwilling to admit this and delay a year (not only due to the rise in tuition fees this summer but all my friends were going) I went and just about survived freshers. A couple of weeks into term things got worse; I got spells of dizziness and stomach pains. At half term – sorry, READING week – I went home, and to my parents I appeared pale and thin. Being me, and never admitting when I have a headache let alone anything worse, I continued to ignore it.

Having been unable to return to uni after that week it still took my parents a while to get me to the hospital. After several doctors appointments I was dragged to A&E, where we sat around for hours. Convinced I was going to be sent home that day I was extremely disappointed once I realised this wasn’t the case.

Eight days later and I was, thankfully, home. It seemed I have colitis; something I had never heard of before, although now it appears everyone knows someone who has it.

Luckily, modern technology and the nature of my course, sociology, meant I was able to catch up on lectures online and having been given extensions on essay deadlines, I didn’t have to quit for that year.

I stayed home ‘till Christmas, as the doctor ordered, recuperating and feeling much better – something which was hard to admit as I didn’t want to say there was anything wrong or that my parents had been right in shipping me off to the hospital.

Returning to uni was hard in January as I had been away for some time and even though I had met a few people while I was there, closer friendship groups had been made without me. Being naturally shy I found it difficult to approach strangers, who at the beginning of the year hadn’t seemed so scary as no one had known anyone. Anyway, during lectures I sat with a couple of girls who I had met before and was surprised to find myself not lagging behind at all.

Has anyone else suffered illness at arguably defining moments in their lives? Or had an illness that no matter how many times you try to convince yourself won’t interfere with your life means you have to make significant sacrifices?