Archive for August, 2009

Music makers

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The Boys are 2

My little men, Jamie and Louis, had their second birthday  (birthdays) on Sunday. As usual there was a family gathering, luckily it was a sunny day so the mayhem could all occur in the garden. The boys were inundated with gifts, mostly two of everything, but the main thing was that they enjoyed their day. Nanny was feeling very lively, possibly helped by a couple of glasses of weak Pimms, so refreshing, and so threw herself enthusiastically into entertaining the Grandchildren. Amy nearly succeeded in causing me serious injury by hurling herself, unexpectedly, at me whilst I was kneeling. I had no idea that I was still able to remain kneeling whilst my head was on the ground behind me. I did think that I must have caused major damage to my spine, DIL was sitting next to me and said that the clonking sound which emanated from me indicated serious injury but no, minor ache but nothing more.

Evie, who is just coming up to 10 months old, is walking unaided, and has been for over a week. Today she increased her speed and was virtually running, very handy when the boys are around and she has just taken their toys, and hilarious to watch as she has to extend her arms to keep her balance and looks decidely inebriated.

Jack, 5, has learned to ride his bike without stabilisers and has resurrected the obsession he had as a toddler with staging mock crashes by tipping the bike over and rolling off it, scary to witness but keeps him occupied for ages.

Amy starts school, full-time next week, bless her, she is only 4 and 4 months. I think she will cope well though as she is quite a bright little spark and has a brain and imagination which a re hugely entertaining.

Izzy is still a little dot, looks like an angel but has a voice like a fog-horn and a will which is indomitable. She still had hypermobility of her joints and is capable of sitting comfortably with her legs bent at impossible angles. I think she is assisted in these poses by a markedly increased pain threshold, she rarely appears to feel it.


Summer 2009 039

Amy, Izzy and Evie 

Working Friday, on-call, and Saturday but then I have 2 weeks leave. Yeah. I can’t wait, I am so looking forward to having some time off. I have a mandatory study day next Friday but that is nothing in comparison to the stress of a days work.

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Too much thinking

Delayed shock, or delayed realisation, I don’t know but there is certainly something going on in my brain. It is hitting me now, great chunks of empty spaces and knowing that Ref is really dead. Stupid really, I mean I spent days watching him lose his grasp on life, stood with him once he had died and then went to his funeral, I knew that he was dead, or I thought that I did. It must only have been on the surface though as it is only now that I am fully aware of the finality. I suppose that some of this must have to do with the ‘out of the blue’, freaky nature of the circumstances which caused his death. Is working helping? I would love to just be able to wallow and mentally sort everything out, but would that help, is it better that I don’t have that much time to ponder upon stuff? It’s 6 of one and half a dozen of the other really. If I had time off then stress-wise, supporting my Mum and helping my sister out, it would really ease the situation, I wouldn’t be on such a guilt-trip about not being around but it could also increase stress as my Mother is not an easy person to be around at the best of times! Mum is actually getting worse, it is driving her mad, and fuelling her anger, living opposite the driver who was the cause of her husband’s death. Apparently the man has just had a brand new car delivered, his car is still in police custody, and my Mother is taking this as a personal insult from the driver himself and also the world at large. It must be so difficult for her, a constant, constant reminder and replay.

This week the solicitors came to talk about the case etc., I wanted to be there but work got in the way, I wanted to know if she could claim expenses for moving home, she is never, ever going to be able to start to arrive at any form of calmness and acceptance whilst she lives on that road, in that house, opposite that man, she needs to move (or he does) but why should she have to finance a move which is only necessary because of the accident? Does that sound money-grabbing? Am I turning into an ‘ambulance chaser’? Are these normal thoughts? Perhaps I’m going as mad as my Mother. 

Hmmm, working is definitely a good idea, it doesn’t allow time for me to analyse and fret about everything.

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Customer service



“I’m speaking now. When I’ve finished you can speak”.

This was an excellent example of what NOT to say to a customer and was demonstrated by an employee of an extremely well known Personal Computer store. Yes, he said it to me. The company and I are presently in the middle of an interesting debate regarding consumer rights. The next communication should be from them, soon.

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A quick precis. The G.P told me that I was being referred. 3 weeks later I received a letter from the G.P’s giving me ‘secret’ passwords which would allow me to book my appointment on-line. After a couple of weeks of receiving the same message telling me that were no appointments available I phoned the appointment people who knew which hospital I had been referred to, but not which consultant. They told me they would now organise my appointment. So much for ‘Choose and Book’, I have neither chosen or booked. A couple of weeks ago I had a letter from the appointments people reminding me to book. I wasn’t sure what to do but basically I was so wrapped up in my step-fathers demise that I forgot about it.

A the beginning of last week I received a letter from the hospital my G.P had chosen for me. Huge excitement, was this my appointment? No, it was this:-

Thank you for choosing ………………..NHS Trust

W have received your appointment request from the Choose and Book appointments line. We are sorry that there were no appointments available when you tried to book and we will be in touch with you as soon as possible.

Please rest assured we are dealing with your request. There is no need to contact us further unless the points below are applicable:

  1. You have booked your appointment at another hospital
  2. You no longer require an appointment
  3. You have not heard from us within two weeks to arrange an appointment

In the meantime please disregard any reminder letters from the Choose and Book Appointments Line.

Oh well, at least it answers my question about the other reminder letter. The letter was dated 06.08 so I should hear from them arranging an appointment by the end of the week. I am feeling rather guilty about the trees which have been felled to provide the paper required to give me an appointment. 

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In The Telegraph

Vacant midwife positions also rose, from 2.1 to 3.4 per cent. Of those, 1 per cent were long-term vacancies, up from 0.8 per cent. The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has previously warned that England already needs an extra 5,000 midwives to provide an acceptable level of care.

Cathy Warwick, general secretary of the RCM, said: “The fact that midwifery vacancies have increased is a worry, especially as birth rates are rising significantly, and showing no sign of slowing down.”

She added: “The overall increase in vacancy rates may suggest there are more midwifery jobs available but employers are struggling to fill them.

“It could also mean that more midwives are leaving a service suffering from very heavy workloads.”

It really says something about the state of midwifery when even a recession cannot either improve retention or encourage midwives to return to the profession.

I talk to my colleagues and not one of them is happy with how things are at the moment. The main gripes are too many changes; unrealistic expectations by both managers and media; lack of support and the deluge of paperwork. The joy of the job is entirely eclipsed by the stressors and since enthusiasm and a positive outlook are integral to midwifery this is can only be viewed as hugely worrying.   

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This ridiculously tortuous system is continuing to confuse and confound me. Having failed dismally in my attempts to choose and book on-line I finally gave-up and spoke to a human being (see my previous post), I thought that I had sorted everything out, now I’m not so sure. Yesterday I received a letter from ‘The Appointments Line’, yet another off-shoot of the NHS, telling me that ‘our records show you may not have booked an appointment for your referral yet’ and telling me to ‘do so as soon as possible’. My referral wasn’t to see a psychiatrist but I’m beginning to think that seeing a shrink may be the culmination of attempting to negotiate this bureaucratic maze. Perhaps the difficulty in booking an appointment is inbuilt deliberately so as to make patients give up trying and then reducing the waiting lists.

Now, what do I do? Phone them again or wait and see?

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Yes, I am cross over many things but I have now focused my recent angst and am attempting to galvanise my Mother’s local authority into action. The day after Ref’s accident I was looking out of the window picturing the accident, morbid but inevitable really, when I noticed that the neighbours access over the pavement has not got a ‘dropped kerb’. Once I had realised this I Could understand why he was driving in, and reversing out, it’s easier to drive up a kerb. I mentioned this to my sister, she’s involved in housing, an she told me that it is an offence under the Highways Act 1980 to not have a crossover or dropped kerb. The next time I saw our police liason guy I mentioned this omission to him, the next day he told me it wasn’t an offence. With more things to occupy my thoughts than pavements I dismissed it from my thoughts, until Mum started to obsess about the neighbour continuing to reversing out into the road, he is basically re-enacting the accident time after time.

I returned to the Highways Act 1980 and found Section 184 which confirmed my sister’s previous assertion Then I went to the website of Mum’s Local Authority and found that they state that it is illegal AND DANGEROUS to access a property by motor vehicle when a dropped kerb has not been installed. I mused. The Highways Act gives 2 reasons for requiring a crossover, one is to prevent damage to the pavement and any services within it, the other is to allow for the easy transition from pavement to road. Right, so they are acknowledging that the drop from one level to another may cause problems, do they mean lack of control of the vehicle I wonder? Armed with my newly acquired information I marched into the relevant local authority offices where, initially, a lovely young man told me there was nothing they could do. I suggested he view their website where they state in glorious technicolour that they can prevent a householder’s vehicle from crossing over a pavement to gain access. He did this and then, some what laconically, told me they would look into it. I remained calm and suggested that he read his local paper to find out why I was so concerned about the relevant transgression but that everything was fine as now I had informed the local powers that be (him) about something which had contributed to a fatality and which was continuing to occur on multiple occasions throughout the day, probably due to the lack of a dropped kerb.

That was yesterday. Today a highways official has contacted the police to inform them that he is visiting the site, not sure why he let them know, it ensures we don’t hear his findings as the police are not allowed to tell us much in case it prejudices a case but at least I feel as if I may have stopped the neighbour rubbing salt in the wound, hopefully.

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Inquest adjourned

I’ve never met a coroner before or attended an inquest, but both happened today. The coroner was very patient and understanding with my Mother, the inquest decided nothing as the CPS are still investigating and deciding what, if any, action they are going to take, so it has now been adjourned until January. We were stunned to find out that, whilst we were having our little official business with the coroner, Ref was being cut open again by a different Home Office pathologist. We had assumed that if the driver’s solicitor had demanded a second post-mortum we would have been informed, it’s quite a personal thing really, bad enough that a post-mortum had to be performed initially, not a pleasant image really but to know that it was all being repeated without his wife’s knowledge is somehow extra disturbing.  We heard the results of the 2nd PM late afternoon, they were the same as the first so that would appear to show without doubt that the accident caused his death.

After the inquest and PM the body was ‘released’, so we have now organised the funeral, it’s next Tuesday afternoon. I spent this afternoon phoning everyone who had said they wished to attend, informing them of the arrangements, whilst my sister spent the time writing to all interested parties, banks, work and pensions etc. I then stood in my Mother’s front room watching the neighbour who had  reversed into Ref reversing out of his drive, again. Yesterday evening Mum was very down, and voiced what I have been thinking since the accident, she doesn’t know how she can carry on living opposite the man who knocked her husband over and also can’t imagine continually looking out of her window at the place where it happened. Very, very hard.

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Choose and Book

I have just encountered another brilliant scheme to confuse and distract – Choose and Book. In this fairytale land when a patient is referred to a specialist they are given a reference number and a secret password, and the world, well at least the hospital and department suggested by their G.P, is their oyster – oh yes. Here in the real world it takes the G.P 3 weeks to generate all the secret stuff, then, armed with the keys which will allow me to ‘choose and book’ I follow the steps to arrange an appointment that suits me, or not. As it turns out I can’t choose or book as there are ‘no appointments available at this time’.  So, a couple of days later I try again and get the same message. A week passes and once again I go through the security measures to choose my appointment, same message. After 3 weeks I abandon the on-line access and phone up, they do seem to know that I have been referred, but they don’t know which specialist, and I’ve forgotten the consultants name so we are now in the realms of ‘lucky dip’. They are going to notify the hospital I need an appointment, will my G.P have told them why she’s referred me, or do I explain things? Apparently I will receive an appointment through the post within two weeks, I won’t have chosen it, and the people at Choose and Book will have booked it, nice little concept really, paying a middleman to do what the G.P and referral hospital did before whilst still involving both of them plus the patient! So, so cost effective. The nice man at the other end of the phone tells me this happens all the time as the hospitals don’t update their appointments. According to the website I should have been sent 2 letters by now reminding me to make my appointment, that didn’t happen either, this is a system failure which must be costing the tax-payer dearly.

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