27 Feb 2012

On a wholly different topic

Slight deviation from usual topic, to complain about Amanda Holden.
I should add, as a disclaimer, that I'm not a vast Amanda Holden fan and never have been.

So, last month, heavily pregnant Amanda Holden was feeling a bit rough and took time off her BGT audition stint to go and get checked over in hospital. Her daughter was born the next day, and the postnatal period was very traumatic. She lost a massive amount of blood and needed multiple transfusions, and from what I can gather, uterine artery ligation. This is a fairly drastic, operation, done to conserve the uterus. Apparently, she required her heart restarting.

Yet, two and half weeks later, she was back at work.

Now, I understand wanting an early hospital discharge very well, especially since her previous pregnancy ended in stillbirth. And I understand the mentality that childbirth is not an illness.

Herein lies a problem though. Normal vaginal delivery, whether spontaneous or induced, is KNACKERING. It doesn't matter whether you have a two hour labour, a small baby, whether you tear, you are shattered afterwards. You lose approximately half a pint of blood, as standard. You push a head out of your vagina. And this is in non-exceptional cases. If you have complications, be they tearing, haemorrhage, assisted delivery or any of the myriad other things that can go wrong in the pueperium, you need EXTRA time to recuperate.
There is a reason you are supposed to have a minimum of six weeks off work after having a baby.

What Amanda Holden has done, in going back to work (even if it is 'just' sitting about watching acts with her baby close to hand) is undermine every woman who isn't able to WALK properly two weeks after childbirth. You're only just out of the puerperal fever dangerzone at two weeks. After my easy second labour and birth, following which I had a moderate haemorrhage, I felt dreadful for a week, and barely less dreadful for a second week. By week three, I was still bursting into tears at nothing and bleeding heavily. The last thing I would've wanted anyone to think, the last thing *I* should have thought of, on seeing me was 'Well, Amanda Holden managed better than this".

It is bad enough that women compare themselves to these lunatic supermodels who are back on the runway mere weeks after giving birth. But Amanda Holden's image is one of an 'everywoman', doing it all, but sensibly. She's supposed to be faintly realistic, something for us to at least try and aim for.

I'm pleased she has had a safe delivery, and I sincerely hope her return to work was sanctioned by her doctors, but in slathering her story all over the inaugural issue of the Sun on Sunday rag, she has given millions of women a wholly unrealistic postnatal aspiration.

21 Feb 2012

Must Know All The Things

Oh my brain!

So, unit 1 was interesting and I got through it at a good pace. It was on the family caring role.
Unit 2, however, has made my brain hurt. It is on the role of care within the NHS.

I worked in the NHS for 8 years. I left a month ago. I started out as a receptionist, barking at patient's who wanted an appointment (actually, I was nice, generally). However, I was quickly promoted to clinical coding, with special emphasis on chronic disease and QoF. This means I know far more than is usual on diabetes, COPD, epilepsy, asthma, hypertension, CHD, CVAs and atrial fibrillation. For the first year of my improved role, I concentrated wholly on diabetes and COPD, getting the registers correct and a recall system in place. I got to know all about compliance, specialist clinics and how to interpret blood results. None of that was in my actual remit, but I absorbed the information from working on the data all day, every day.

So, Unit 2 is all about diabetes. If I had known very little about the disease before starting, I'd have probably sailed through without concern. Instead, my brain has been turned up to 11, almost re-analysing everything I know about diabetes within primary care. All the prejudices of hierachial care (which I came across rather a lot), all the non-compliance, all the expert patient knowledge snuck back into my brain with KNOBS on.

It makes me want to go back to work and develop a strategy for diabetic teaching with the nurses.

I think that's the problem. I want to act on this new knowledge. I want to go and do something useful with it instead of letting it wash over me. And I can't, because I don't have that job anymore and may never have that level of influence in another job.

It's something I need to work through because it's going to keep cropping up!

11 Feb 2012

The one where I'm a massive snob

I have already given up on the course forum. I'm only checking my tutor forums from now on.

Alas, it seems that a small percentage of fellow students think they're on the Jeremy Kyle show and think they need to air their troubled life stories in relation to Every Single Topic that comes up. Whereas sharing experiences in context is quite informative, projecting a past situation on to every possible scenario is annoying, attention seeking and bellend-y.

This same small percentage of students are semi-literate. I'm not wholly a grammar fascist, but I would've thought being able to write in sentences and spell simple words correctly would be a prerequisite of doing a degree level course. Some are already complaining that it's too much reading (it's bugger all reading), they don't like the way the course is structured (i.e they don't like thinking for themselves) and they might drop out. After week one.

One is complaining that they aren't getting a course grant because they got one last year and didn't finish the course. The OU is not a bloody charity here to offer money in exchange for a half-assed attempt at a course. Another is complaining that the grant isn't enough to buy a PC. For the record, the grant (which is for stationery, books and travel) is £275. The course books are no more than £50 brand new and only the exam is compulsory for travel. If you don't have a PC, distance learning is probably not going to work.

It is like looking at a facebook war every day. I cannot be arsed.

I know, I know, I'm a massive snob. But these people are all adults and acting like schoolchildren, with a total disregard for netiquette.

Anyway, my first week has actually gone well. I've been staying at my parents and haven't been able to make my DVD work on their computer, but I've been downloading the mp3s off the site. I'm halfway through unit 1 (which is on care within families and consists of a lot of Scottish people bellowing at each other) I need to write my notes up properly. The reading has taken me about 5 hours over the week, thus far. I'm quite happy with it all.

7 Feb 2012

Drug addicts are people too

So, once again Protecting Our Children was on last night, and once again, I haven't watched it yet. And once again, it has sparked considerable debate amongst my fellow students.

It appears that one of the families in last night's show were chronic drug abusers who had their children removed at birth. One of my fellow students linked us to a program in the USA that sterilises drug addicts for free, and gives them money for it. She linked to this as a possible solution to the problem.

Now, I have two major issues with this. The first, as pointed out by other students, was that by offering money, people are going to sell their fertility for their next fix. Drug addiction doesn't necessarily end in premature death. Many of these sterilised addicts may recover and return to a normal life, but a life where they are unable to have children. Sterilisation, especially in women, is difficult to reverse and expensive.

My second, more significant issue is that it sees people as nothing more than their addiction. Sterilise the addicts, get rid of the problem. Or rather, ignore the problem because it's a lot easier to claim ignorance of drug addiction if there are no unhappy children needing long term care as a result of it. It also ignores that many addict parents do everything in their power to retain custody of their children. Drug addiction in itself does not automatically mean parenting failure.

So, I posed the following to the group:

The most common 'type' of people to have multiple children removed from their care are those with learning difficulties, often due to childhood abuse. Would anyone want to sterilise that particular group of people to limit the number of children in care?

If I'm playing devil's advocate, these are precisely the type of service user that should be sterilised as they are far less likely to recover or gain the correct parenting skills.

Back in the forums, the answer? Silence. Because all a sudden, we've slipped over the line into eugenics and nobody's comfortable with that.

6 Feb 2012

Fresher's week

I went to see Cirque du Soleil: Totem yesterday and it was amazing. Highly recommended!

With my first mailing of course materials was a 'Welcome Week' handout of activities to do over week one of the course (4th - 11th Feb). It is, essentially, an induction into the world of the OU.

Unlike half the people on my course, I didn't do the welcome week IMMEDIATELY ON RECIEPT OF THE MATERIALS. I decided to wait until vaguely approaching the actual start date, so I could gauge my working speed more accurately. I feared that sprinting through the work in a fit of excitement would lead to faltering discontent as the weeks became more demanding.

Time allotted for running through the welcome was six hours. However, since this included up to three hours to work through the IT guide, I didn't think it'd take me quite that long. I was right - the IT guide took me fifteen minutes, but then I've worked in IT for eight years.

Another activity - 'buy your set books' - I did MONTHS ago (thanks again, Vickie).

The course welcome DVD actually settled me down quite a bit. I've been feeling a bit generally dreadful about life for the WHOLE of January, and was starting to think I'd made a terrible mistake deciding to do ANYTHING other than sitting on my arse, in a catatonic state, for seven years, and then working at Lidl. So, I watched the DVD and it was reassuring. I suppose that is the point of it. It wouldn't be much of a welcome if it just showed people screaming down the lens, glassy- eyed and rending their garments. Heh.

The module guide was similarly reassuring, though I did laugh at the italicised exhortation to BUY the set books. Saying that, I have noticed people moaning that the set books are available through StudentHome. They aren't, this is fantasy and nonsense.

I then had a brief look through the study planner and assessment guide. This is getting everyone's knickers in a twist. Some people seem to think they should be able to write their first essay RIGHT NOW.

OU study, at least at entry level, is incredibly structured. I'm doing a nine month course, split into six blocks. Block one is an overview, blocks two to five are the main body of the course and block six is a 'moving on' type of affair. Each block is split into units and I'm allotted a unit per week to study. The units are linked up with two set texts and a DVD-Rom. There are various activities to do. Alongside this are the tutor and module forums online.

At the end of the first five blocks, I'll have to submit a Tutor Marked Assessment (TMA), plus an extra one around the mid-module group project. Each TMA is split into three sections: an essay, a shorter activity on care skills and a retrospective. My first marked work will be an introduction that I have to email to my tutor by the 16th. I sent this off this morning. I doubled the word count, but apparently it doesn't matter this time.

At the end of block six is an exam. Yeah, the exam I kinda didn't notice. Woo!

On top of all that, I have to do five interactive Computer Marked Assessments (iCMAs). These are based on numbers and statistics. Remember I said I was dyscalculic? These are going to be FUNZ.

So, I am officially a student, after ten years of being a worker bee/mother/disgruntled (ex)wife. It's a curious sensation, made stranger by the fact that I am still a mother and disgruntled ex wife. So many things to juggle!

4 Feb 2012

Oh woe, I'm on a course! Me! On a COURSE!

Why is this course starting freaking me out so much?

I applied to do it six months ago, was accepted four months ago and have been going on the website almost daily since I got my login details to stare longingly at the screen.
And now it's here, my entire being is screaming "AAAARRRGHHH".

I have found, since the disastrous end of my marriage sixteen months ago, that I have commitment issues. And I think that's my chief problem. I have now committed myself to nine months of work, with almost monthly assessments. I can't back out. It is a test of my skills, it is a test of my dedication and it's the first challenge I've faced since giving birth and moving house. It's a challenge I have given myself, it's not been forced on me by circumstance. I made this choice. Now I have to go through with it.

I have fallen into a happy stasis, of looking after my kids and bumming around. But that isn't what I want to do with my life. This isn't who I want to be.

It's not going to be easy. I never expected it to be easy. I also never expected to have such a very awful January that has cast something of a pall over everything else. January is over, life is getting sorted out, normal service is resumed. It's the perfect time for a subtle shift in routine. Instead of spending the evenings watching Heston Blumenthal do insane things with cheese, I shall be reading. Instead of falling into a relieved stupor when my ex, or his parents take the kids out, I shall be doing essays. And I shall make time for life, but I'll have to be disciplined about keeping up to date with learning.

After all, as one of my sisters pointed out, I have time to blog about having no time. Thus, I have time. I need to put my big girl pants on and get on with it.

On your marks...

Today is the first day of the course.

Egad, I'm a student again for the first time in not quite ten years!