Adventures in NHS Counselling… Day 2

I arrive for my appointment a little stressed since roadworks closed the only access to the building and I had to find alternate parking…

I hobble the distance on my crutch to the address with seconds to spare, and with a smile I announce myself at reception.

The receptionist in her very early 20’s covered in tattoos confuses my name with the name of the counsellor saying they don’t have an appointment for … I patiently explain, no I am here to see that person, my name is Jason…

Receptionist: “Do you know which department they are from?”

Me: “No”

Receptionist: “There are 42 departments operating in this building…”

Me: “Mmmm ok, wasn’t an issue two weeks ago…”

Receptionist: “Can you give me your Name, Date of Birth and Address please”

Me: “Yes, I can if I had privacy, however there are other people arriving of which they are stood invading my personal space, and from a data protection point of view it’s not information I want to be sharing with the general public” …

They really don’t understand Data Protection or the upcoming GDPR, or care quite frankly…

The couple whom flanked me, looked a little embarrassed and took a step back.  I ended up showing my driving licence with all the information available.

I’m asked to take a seat whilst they sort this out…

Ten minutes into my appointment time pass when the receptionist informs me I was discharged last year and shouldn’t be here and to go home and make an appointment with the GP for a future referral.

I explained that her records management is clearly poor and not correctly maintained…

At this point the counsellor calls me on the phone to find out where I am…

I explain that reception won’t let me in as I was discharged last year and that I’m instructed to go home.

The counsellor arrives in reception, and explains that her appointments are on a different IT system, yawn yawn blah blah blah…

20-minutes of my 50-minute slot has been wasted by an inept receptionist and broken controls/systems that don’t provide an accurate inventory of visitors for the day…

I’m thinking compliance, controls and governance are out of the window as I take a leaflet for their complaints procedure…

Once again, I find myself sat in the same skanky room, complete with bodily fluid stained chairs, wiring on the floor to trip over and I’m proffered the same questionnaire for anxiety and depression and instructed to fill that in.

I try to make conversation, but rules are rules, nothing to discuss until the form has been completed…

The completed form has its scores totted up and I’m told that my anxiety has increased since the last visit.  Why is that?

Well… Reception didn’t help… Plus I have the builders in and the place is in a mess…

Counsellor: “Have I discussed the different therapy options with you?”

For the remaining 10 minutes I’m informed of the different techniques she is trained in, and then asked if I had a preference? CBT or EMDR.  I didn’t have a strong opinion either way, and then I’m asked about my childhood (ah Classic Freud, to paraphrase If it wasn’t your father it was your mothers fault…) I stated (as I had in my previous session) that my childhood is out of bounds, I only want to focus on and discuss the grief and trauma of losing my wife through such a cruel disease and what she went through.

I’m informed that EMDR is not relevant to me then and CBT is the only option…

At this point we’re out of time (well there’s 10 minutes to go but I’m informed that it’s not worth using that time now), and the next appointment is when she returns in a month from taking a holiday!

Two sessions, paperwork and not really discussed what my issues and problems are…  There is too much inefficiency in the system that I don’t see or feel any benefit.

I may go back to private counselling at least they jump straight in and flip the old noodle open and take a look under the hood…

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Confessions of a Physiotherapy Session

Following on from my recent total knee replacement surgery, I undertake Physiotherapy sessions to help with my recovery.  Today’s blog entry describes my recent experience of one such session.

My taxi drops me off outside the Physiotherapists reception, where I struggle to get out of the car using the door frame for balance, lifting my leg using my clothing to get it out of the car whilst trying to ensure my crutches don’t damage his paintwork.  The taxi driver enjoys a WhatsApp conversation with someone…

The bright white automatic doors of reception slide back making a satisfying “ahhhhh” sound as though they had achieved it’s greatest thing today, with each slide just as satisfying as the last, these doors don’t get bored of their only function in life…

I arrive to a well-lit and clean reception with just a couple of people sat in smart chairs waiting to be called.  I announce myself at the desk and greeted by a friendly lady who’s already pulled up my details and confirms I’m “All checked in”.  I seat myself slowly on the raised chair, with crutches in hand and hospital air boot protecting my damaged foot and ankle.

A few moments later I’m called by the physiotherapist, she’s young, slim and full of youthful energy and enthusiasm that I only reminisce about, as I’m instructed to ascend two flights of stairs to her treatment room…  I’m surprised a lift wasn’t available… It takes me 10 minutes to painfully make my way up the winding staircase, one excruciating step at a time clinging on to the bannister rail and hoping I don’t slip, and more importantly I don’t break wind as the Physio who is following behind watching my every move…

Finally, I reach the top and enter an old poorly lit room, tired décor with massage table bolted firmly in its centre, a bunch of Victorian looking torture instruments, the skeleton of the last non-compliant patient and a desk with an Apple MacBook Air with two chairs. (ahh Apple, there’s hope!)

The therapist takes no time in telling me to disrobe (from the waist down), I remove my socks, Sweat-Pants (since my leg is so swollen I can’t get into a pair of jeans) and stand vulnerable and part naked with just my Polo-Shirt, under crackers and a pre-emptive nervous smile…

Then… I’m taken completely by surprise as she pushes me up against the wall, drops to her knees, puts one hand around my bad leg and then starts tugging… gently at first and then longer, harder, deeper with each stroke…  At this point the only thing going through my mind is ….

“I hope she doesn’t let go!”

What were you thinking?  Take your mind out of the gutter! This isn’t Fifty Shades of Phsyio 😀 The therapist was using an oversized elastic band wrapped around the back of my knee and applying a force that the bad knee had to resist… I noticed that the band wasn’t securely wrapped around her hand, all that was going through my mind was if she let go, that’s

  1. Gonna hurt!
  2. I may be singing Soprano for a week or two.
  3. I’m going to look odd carrying my gonads around in a wheel barrow!

I’m invited over to the massage table and asked to lay down with both knees elevated towards the ceiling and asked to clench my bum, using my core to lift myself off the bed in a short thrusting motion, about 10 reps into this exercise, again I’m thinking “Please don’t fart, please don’t fart”… and then it happens….

Just as she grabs my bum and gives it a warm but firm squeeze…. Paarrrrrrp…..

We both went bright red as she apologised profusely explaining she was checking I was working the muscles and should have warned me/asked permission before doing so.  I laughed as I was then told to get off the table and stand up using the table for balance whilst trying to stand on Tip Toes…

“what happened next caught me by surprise.”

My experience of Physiotherapy so far is that each week they find new and creative ways of punishing muscles you never knew you had with different exercises.

Given the issues I’ve had since my knee replacement and ankle pain, I’ve been increasingly concerned that this is now me, someone who struggles with stairs, trouble with sitting and standing up from low sofas/chairs with reliance on sticks and aids to get about.

I ask “Given the length of time since surgery, is this who I am now?”

In my mind I feel that my mobility issues are a punishment for not finding a solution/cure for my late wife’s cancer, the guilt of not being able to save her still plays on my mind every minute of the day.  If so, I can accept this, its nothing compared to the pain that Janice suffered and endured, as she smiled daily facing her inevitable fate.

But what happened next caught me by surprise.

She asked…

“Do I think the world see/treat fat/overweight people differently?”

Wow…

I responded by saying that people will always pre-form an opinion/judgement on someone based on their appearance.

Whatever my size doesn’t mean I’m a different person or any less capable of doing my job.

The conversation that followed was interesting since there’s clear prejudice in the health system to people who are overweight.  These prejudices seem to be irrespective of each individual’s circumstances, contribution to the welfare of their country, or type of role they perform etc.

I could take this conversation in many directions but not today.  You could take a look at https://jasebrooks.wordpress.com/2014/01/04/mumbai-calling-press-7-for-consumerism/

She expresses concern about whether I’m eating healthily, and of course cooking for one isn’t fun, especially when the only things I can cook (loosely described) is to reheat ready-made meals for one from the supermarket, or cereal/toast!

I was asked if I would re-marry (a common question Widow(ers) are asked). My response surprised me.

I explained what is the point of finding love again, especially as I am still so very clearly in love with my late wife.

With that aside, I explained there’s no point opening your heart to anyone again only to see them die, or for them to see you die.  Statistically half the population will have some form of cancer if reports and findings are to be believed http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/risk/lifetime-risk

I don’t think I’m capable of loving again… My heart couldn’t take it.  Why should I be happy when Janice isn’t here to share in these new experiences?  I explained to her my theory of the absurdity of life (one for another blog) but why care that much again for someone knowing its futility, that ultimately it leads to heartache and grief?

No, I have to protect my heart, my soul, build the barriers, build the walls so I don’t have to experience this again, and to protect others from experiencing this too…

At 14 months, 7 days 2 hours and 17 minutes into this journey, I cannot shake the feeling that I’m lost, dead on the inside and just waiting… Waiting for what I don’t know… but it’s like I need to be ready for something and just wait…

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Bereavement Counselling in the modern day NHS

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After 13 months since losing Janice to such an awful disease I’m finally granted bereavement counselling courtesy of the NHS.  Its proven very difficult to access any services for bereavement when you actually need them!

Since Janice didn’t pass at the hospital she was under their care I wasn’t permitted to use their bereavement service.  Cruse were not taking on any case loads due to funding and lack of resources, GP was tearing their hair out as bereavement support is so badly lacking.  If it was not for the charity WAY (Widowed and Young) who knows what might have happened.

A counsellor called me to arrange an appointment, and I turn up to the address given to me.

The facilities were run down, dirty and frankly quite depressing, a stark contrast to private counselling hosted in modern inviting facilities (or maybe I’m missing the point).

I “Sign in” to a book that simply asks for initials, date and person to see.  The book is available to anyone and not protected by reception, it doesn’t add any real value to the “Fire Safety Requirement” for visitors signing into the premises.

I wend my way up one floor to the waiting area, littered with used tissues, wrappers, heavily stained office carpet installed in the 80’s (probably) and sit in the least soiled chair available.

A friendly looking lady pops her head around a door and asks if I’m Jason? I say yes… “Follow me she says…”

I hobble the short distance to her office/room which didn’t look any better than the rest of the building.  Two heavily soiled chairs, desk, litter on the floor, an EMDR light therapy unit which was used in the last session with cables scattered everywhere as a tripping hazard (And not the Hey Man good trip? Kinda way!), all squeezed in what is a 6 x 4-foot room with two doors!

The other door had a piece of tape covering the eye hole and you could clearly hear someone typing and talking in the room behind that door.

The lady introduces herself, her role in the NHS, emphasises that all conversations are confidential to her and her supervisor, unless of course I’m at risk to myself or others in which case a ballet of people will get involved…

On the question of privacy, I politely ask how can a session be private if the person beyond the door can listen to all conversations.  I’m informed the situation isn’t ideal for a Mental Health Unit (Really?!?) but my choice is to go back on the waiting list for a counsellor at a different facility to be available!  Given I’ve waited more than a year, Hobson’s choice really…

I suspect a course on the Data Protection Act, General Data Protection Regulation and UK Privacy Laws are in order for whomever is responsible for provisioning that facility, but I’ll save that for another day…

I’m asked if I know why I’m here? WTF, seriously?  I then start to explain, but cut short as I’m instructed to complete a standard form which assess my anxiety and depression levels, and scored appropriately…

No talking about my issues until forms are complete (Achtung Achtung… Patients Vill Be Compliant Yah!)

There’s more blurb on what the counsellor is trained in (apparently not bereavement), and then a whole spiel on how she’s constantly assessing herself for quality and assurance purposes, could I work with her and vice-versa and a whole load of other arse covering legal-ease about the services they offer.  She says, I will be offered approx. 10-15 sessions if required.

Now facilities aside, I would expect the skill of the individual dealing with bereavement be key rather than the environment they operate in, but a bit of tidy up wouldn’t go amiss…

A number of the forms that needed to be filled were meant to be sent to me before the session to save time.  This didn’t happen, and then I’m offered an explanation about how crap the IT systems are, and how there are different IT systems within the NHS that don’t talk to each other so any data from my assessment last year wouldn’t be accessible by this counsellor as she is on a different IT system to the other counsellor!

I’m so glad our tax is being spent wisely at the large consultancy delivering consolidated IT platforms (or milking the NHS with high contract rates and junior earn-as-you-learn-coders).

After all that, there were about 10 minutes left in the session to actually talk about why I am here.  During which it was close to 4pm and all she was interested in was going getting away on time…

Overall, the first session was of no benefit to me, merely an opportunity for a disillusions NHS worker to complain about the levels of admin/paperwork/and moan how bad IT and facilities were in the NHS…

Next session not for a while since the counsellor’s  on holiday and family matters to deal with…

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An open letter to Daniel Schulman CEO of PayPal – 4th January 2018

An open letter to Daniel Schulman CEO of PayPal

Dear Mr Schulman,

Dealing with the death of your partner at a young age due to Cancer is an extremely difficult time (and that’s putting it mildly) as is the case with any bereavement that your customer’s will suffer.

Whilst dealing with my late wife’s estate I was surprised that a Financial Organisation that is global and the size of PayPal doesn’t have a robust bereavement process or team to handle such cases, in fact your customer services departments have both been insensitive, untrained, and quite rude.

In my case, I have spent the last year trying to close my late wife’s PayPal account which had a zero balance.  Neither I or your customer services representations were able to locate a bereavement notification process within PayPal’s help system.  I contacted PayPal customer services both by messaging and telephone.  The responses received shocked me…

  • You will need your wife to contact us to close the account.
    • My wife died of Cancer how do you expect her to call in the afterlife?
  • “I know how you feel, I’m going through a divorce…”
    • WTF, don’t even try and compare grief.
  • We don’t know what to do as we’ve never had to deal with bereavement notification before.
  • Can you email the death certificate to our generic customer services email address?
  • Can you fax it to the following number?
    • We won’t receive the fax and wouldn’t know if you sent it in…

Mr Schulman, here in the UK, faxing died a death in corporate land during the late 90’s, most modern computers no longer have a built-in fax-modem.

Emailing a legal document via an unencrypted insecure email address is inappropriate and unacceptable.

Apparently, there isn’t a mechanism to securely transfer the legal documentation to PayPal! Nor is there a data protection statement for the handling and storage of such sensitive documents.

Mr Schulman,

PayPal whilst a world leader in digital payments and business, frankly has not got a proper bereavement team in place to handle cases like this with family members sensitively and efficiently.  Why is this? Why has your company made a painful experience so poor? Other financial institutions have proper process, proper teams in place for dealing with this and yet PayPal appears not to, or is unknown to its customer services team…

I am asking you to implement globally the following: –

  • A properly defined and structured process for bereavement notification on accounts.
  • Proper bereavement handling team.
    • Trained in dealing with sensitive cases and people in grief closing down accounts.
  • A secure digital channel for submitting legal paperwork such as Death Certificate, Grant of Probate etc.
    • Fax is not appropriate in many developed countries.

Finally,

It should not take a year battling to close an account with zero balance (let alone any balance) of the deceased.  Please close my late wife’s account.

I shouldn’t have to resort to social media for your company to implement proper accessible controls that other financial organisations have to comply with here in the UK (and globally).

An apology from you on behalf for making this experience so difficult and poor.

I thank you for your time in addressing this issue.

Yours Sincerely,

Jason Brooks (Widower)

Posted in Bereavement, Personal | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Hello NHS my old friend…

Hello NHS my old friend
I’ve come to seek your help again…
Because an ankle softly breaking
Of an X-Ray that I am waiting
And the needle that’s inserted is a pain…
and still remains…
Within the sounds of my screaming…

In the restless corridors I hobble alone
Narrow chairs and stifled moans
‘neath the halo of the X-Ray lamp
I turned my ankle to the cold lead ramp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of X-Ray light
That increased the fright
And touched the sound of screaming…

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more…
Consultants talking but not listening
Patients hearing but not speaking
Registrars writing notes that no one will ever share
As no one dared…
Disturb the sounds of screaming….

Consultant said I do not know.
For MRI you must go…
So these images that may reach me
So that I might heal you
And yet my words, like silent raindrops fell…
Oh what the hell…
This is my sound of….

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Caffeine and Codeine

Version 3

The following article is my experience of recent major surgery within the modern-day NHS.  Before going into my story, I would like to acknowledge there are some really good people working within the NHS but are heavily constrained or scared to make the necessary changes within.  As a patient, it is easy to see the NHS being systematically destroyed by poor management, and execs who are so far removed from the patient experience/journey their decision making is questionable…

Don’t get me wrong, I love the NHS, but when HCA’s and Nurses are discussing openly about sourcing second jobs just to keep a roof over their heads and feed their family, something’s very wrong here.

What Happened?

Recently I underwent surgery for a Total Knee Replacement, if anyone had explained the amount of pain this type of surgery would create, I would never have believed them…

The pain is incredible even at week four it’s keeping me awake at night!  I’m tired, sleep deprived, lacking concentration and frustrated…  An Occupational Therapists (OT) explained the surgery is the equivalent of being in a car crash and your leg gets smashed up.  However, instead of putting it in plaster for 6 weeks, the repair work has already been done and the knee and bones are structurally sound.

Surgery Day

On the day of surgery, I was wheeled down to theatre and met the team that would be working on me.  They insisted on a Spinal Anaesthetic, I explained I didn’t want to hear, smell or see what they were doing to me and preferred a General… As I sat on the edge of the bed, the anaesthetist was locating the vertebrae to insert the needle (local anaesthetic first) he explained that a Spinal Anaesthetic was different to an epidural (what the difference is I don’t know) …

Thirty minutes of screaming in absolute agony whilst they try and insert the needle into my spine (still trying to get the local in before they could insert the larger spinal needle) I’m crying and calling out for my late wife; the pain was simply intolerable on a level I’d never experienced.  The anaesthetist said “Plan B” to his assistant and they start chatting to me, the next thing I remember was being told to open my eyes.  I’d gone down to theatre at 1:30pm and returned six hours later.

They said the operation was successful, gave me a PCA of Morphine where I proceeded to have one of the most painful nights I remember…

The Next Day

In the morning after surgery, a nurse removed the PCA and it wasn’t long before they tried to get me up on my feet.  With the aid of a Zimmer frame, I move to the edge of the bed and try to stand… Jaysus! The pain was incredible, and wasn’t long before I was back in bed again.  I was given some physio exercises to perform and given a cryo-cuff (an electronic bucket filled with ice water and a cuff that wrapped around the knee to help reduce the swelling.  My leg was twice the size of the other!

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Pain Relief

Given the amount of pain I was on and clearly not working, the consultant referred me to the Acute Pain Relief team who added new meds and advised Oral Morphine to be available every two hours as needed.  In reality receiving pain relief proved problematic, when asking for pain relief, it could take up to five hours before receiving it, in which time the pain intensified.  The consultant asked why I wasn’t using the available pain relief and on explaining the situation, he re-iterated and confirmed the frequency of two hours.

Shortly after the consultant visit, the Ward Sister came to talk to me and asked why I’d complained to the consultant.  I explained I didn’t complain but advised that pain relief was difficult to obtain when required (I didn’t use it every two hours, but when I did ask there were lengthy delays).  The Sister then suggested they change the frequency to 3-4 hours instead!!! I simply said she was part of the problem, if the consultant says one thing and nurses decide something else then that’s an issue… I suggested we get the consultant back and agree between them the correct frequency…  The Ward Sister declined, muttered something and went off…

The next two days again proved problematic obtaining pain relief when required, until the issue was sorted out…

Why is the process so disjointed between professionals, with nurses and sisters ignoring consultants and doing their own thing?

Infection Control?

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I was meant to be in hospital for 2 – 3 days, however my ordeal extended to two weeks, during this time my bed remote control was broken.  I reported it on the first day of being admitted and even though there were 10 empty beds available, I was informed that it was a facilities issue and not theirs…

I asked “can we put some tape around it?” I was informed that wasn’t possible for “Infection Control Purposes”, I asked if they prefer I’m electrocuted instead? The Ward Sister explained they don’t have a procedure or risk assessment for that… so it was fine!  I asked several times about getting the remote taped up or made safe (they could have just swapped a bed over) however on discharge the remote control remained in two pieces throughout my occupancy!  I was tempted to call “Facilities” using my mobile phone… there was no ownership on the ward what so ever… Very much a case of “Not my Job”.

Bullying?

Sadly, there will always be some bad eggs in any hospital…

There were a couple of HCAs (Health Care Assistances) and Nurses that would make snide and aggressive comments such as “You such be gone by now”.  There’s a difference between saying this in a jokey fashion when someone’s been in longer than expected, but these aggressive comments were made when they could get away with it…  I wasn’t blocking a bed there were plenty available on the ward, and their pay is the same whether they are looking after ten patients or nine…

An elderly patient (in his 80s) asks for some bottles for overnight, he’s told no! He protests, they sneer at him and tell him to get up.  Only when he said “right well I’ll just have to wet myself and you can deal with the mess afterwards!” that the arguments started to fly.  There wasn’t a valid reason for not giving him bottles, someone was clearly having a bad day and enjoyed conflict!

A Little Light Relief – The Hospital Experience

The following is a typical experience from Lights up to evening, the events are true but I’ve added a little humour as it’s the only way you can get through the days…

6am: Lights Up, Harsh Sterile white light greets the morning?!? I miss my natural sunrise alarm clock. My body goes into shock like a rabbit in headlights…

An announcement by the Nurses booms around the ward: “Achtung Achtung Patients Vill stand by Zer Beds for inspection Jah…”

The HCA walks into my bay (with only me in it) and powers up the spotlights.  I wait before hobbling up on my Zimmer to the light switch, switch off the harsh lighting and return to the nice mood lighting and Zimmer my way to make room for what will be no doubt a delicious warm breakfast that will be awaiting on my return…

I return from my partial morning ablutions to find that challenging the Gestapo has consequences.  Lights back on, curtains drawn and curtain round my bed protecting me from being exposed from the corridor are pulled back…

Why? Drug round won’t get to me for another hour, so I lay here contemplating my escape plans in bright light when I could have had at least another hour useful sleep instead.

The HCA wanders in and offers two regulation biscuits and a plastic beaker of tepid brown liquid. The regulation biscuits are inedible but then again, I’ve not touched them since admission.

7am: Drug rounds, or breakfast as I call it, the wax cup presented to me resembles a portion of muesli, geez I’m eating more pharmaceuticals than real food…

8am: Breakfast round… What would I like? hmmm… Fresh Croissant, Pain Au Raisin, Bacon Roll, Fresh Orange Juice? yum yum …. Back in the real world I’m proffered two slices of thin frozen cardboard smothered in axel grease shaped like toast?!? that tastes so foul (how can you get toast so wrong?) I once again decline breakfast, a visitor managed to smuggle in a couple of bananas for me (though I shudder to think how they managed to evade the frisking down from the wards checkpoint) …

9am: Time to complete my ablutions. A cardboard bowl of water, a couple of towels and some help passing my regulation approved toiletries and it’s time to get as cleaned up as I can, I’m so desperate for a shower, to feel clean, wash my hair, deodorant the feeling of normality, again denied to me today…

10am: Finally, clean?!? (well less smelly than the day before) just as the consultant takes his rounds and inspects his art work, I’m privileged to have 38 seconds of their time before moving on.  The only acceptable answer is “I’m ok”

11am: The physioterrorists punish me further with the stair test, I sometimes wonder if the army are missing a drill sergeant….

12pm: Dinner! Don’t get excited as I’m served up two type 4 Bristol Stool Scale looking items, diced reconstituted freeze dried caterpillar segments and a scoop of frozen gruel smothered in engine oil and I’m at a loss… Is this meant to be edible? It tastes like someone emptied the entire salt cellar to bulk the ingredients up… So much for nutrition…

1pm: The physioterrorists swoop in unexpectedly in balaclava’s and introduce me to my nemesis “The stairs” again.

2pm: Drug round! and about time too… I’m fed a cocktail of hallucinogenic and truth serum in preparation for the interrogation later…

3pm: I’m informed that the 36 staples holding my knee together are to be removed… It’ll be a doddle I thought, they said I would be numb near the incision until the nerve endings are repaired. The nurse with the friendly smile (one of the good ones) removes the dressing and says this may hurt a little… Jaysus…. I’m screaming in shear pain as each staple is removed one by sodding one… I take a breather, they count down the last 4, I’m in tears, pillow over my head to muffle the screams to not scare the other inmates any more than they are, I’m told my interrogation is over… I take a look to take a photo of the wound and there’s two staples left!!! WTF… and in the most sensitive of sensitive places… I’m in tears… I shake their hand and thank my chief torturer as I explain that if “Nursing” doesn’t work out, a career as an African Warlord is in the making…

4pm: An hour before a tasty snack was to be delivered I’m informed that I have been discharged, however they forgot to add my acute pain meds to the discharge list… And since the doctor has left for the day I’ll have to call in the morning to sort it out!!! An entire hospital brought to its knees (no pun intended) because one doctor is unavailable!?! What about the other 6000+ patients? I worry… more importantly I don’t have the right pain relief to go home with as I’m met by a wave of apathy from staff…

5pm: I wend my way home… to start my rehabilitation…

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To be continued…

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Happy Wedding Anniversary Janice

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Pre-Wedding Photo Shoot

Today would have been our 12th Wedding Anniversary together, every day just seems to get harder without you being here.  There is so much I want to say, stuff I have to say, and yet I still don’t know where to start.  This blog entry may not make sense as I write from the heart so I’ll start somewhere and see where this post takes me.

When I first met you, you were being introduced by our manager as you started a new job in the same department for the same company I was working for.  It was in that moment I just knew…  Don’t ask me how… I just knew.

We became friends for many years, spending a lot of time together when possible, you even took care of me after my near death experience in the late 90’s due to a botched surgical procedure (when my then girlfriend buggered off and left me at risk).  We’d just hang out, enjoy each others company and have a laugh and giggle.  Sunday mornings we’d phone each other and talk whilst watching Hollyoaks, before meeting up for coffee and cake in various places, but mostly shopping.

People assumed we were a married couple long before we started a relationship and would ask how long we’d been married.  You’d giggle and brush it off, until one evening you decided you wanted more than friendship.

Our wedding day could be considered a fairy tale, from proposing that New Years Eve afternoon to getting married, in 9 months you’d found everything a girl needs, the limo, white horse drawn carriage to the castle, string trio, magician, fireworks, music, 300 candles to light the pathway.  It was magical and fun… A day neither of us would forget.

Mind you, I heard later the Castle staff were taking bets on when I would faint as apparently I looked whiter than white (probably from being up until 4am still writing my speech).

We had a magnum of Vintage 196x Moët et Chandon for the top table and I vividly remember you walking around the castle grounds in your gorgeous wedding dress with that oversized bottle in your hand as you didn’t want anyone walking off with it.

In the 11 years, 3 months and 1 day we were married you were always full of life, optimistic, happy and always said it was sunny when you are up with your gran as a kid.  Sadly in retrospect we both focussed (too heavily) on work and should have done more together.  During the times we weren’t working we managed some awesome travel and adventure between us!  Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Dallas, Amsterdam, Paris, Prague, St Lucia, Antigua, Dominican Republic, Barbados, most of mainland Europe, to name but a few…  You’ve always loved travel visiting more places before we started dating including Russia (which I wanted to visit).  you’d be up for almost anything whether it was Scuba Diving at the Great Barrier Reef, Rally Driving at Silverstone, Archery, Quad Biking, Learning to fly a Boeing 737 are but a few examples.  You always wanted to sky surf, to jump out of an aeroplane with a snowboard, but we never managed to get that far in our life journey together.

I am so happy to have been part of your life that even today I still feel helpless in not being able to find a treatment or cure for you.  I don’t want this to be a sad post, because you were a positive person who brought balance and happiness to my life.

I think the point is, that our story was never finished, we planned so much together, to travel the world and sharing experiences.  Our story feels incomplete/unfair.

I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you, but I now know you shared the rest of your life with me.  I love you now and always. xxx

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