23 Oct 2015

NHS Bureaucrazy

I am cross.
Last year, I had a head injury that led to concussion and whiplash. I had all sorts of terrifying symptoms at the time like slurring, amnesia, dizziness, nausea, night blindness, peripheral vision loss and anomic aphasia. I couldn't stand up for a week, but I was back to normal within a few weeks.
Except that I still have a small blind spot in my peripheral vision. At first, I thought I was imagining it, and ignored it. Then I went for an eye test a month ago, mentioned it, had all the tests done and was referred because I wasn't imagining it.
Normally, if you have a dodgy eye test, the optician refers you directly to the hospital, but (presumably because of the head injury) I had to go and visit my GP first and talk about it to decide whether to send me to ophthalmology or neurology. The GP thought it was either caused by damage to my retina, optic nerve or visual cortex. The initial injury was on the right side, but it's my left eye that's affected. She referred me to ophthalmology. This was early last week, because GP appointments are gold dust.

Now, the bit that's made me cross.
Today, I got a letter that looked suspiciously like junk mail. I get a lot of junk mail at the moment, thanks to foolishly letting the Bounty woman have my details in the hospital after Alex was born. So, I opened it, expecting yet another life insurance offer because PARENTS DIE, and instead found a letter from some random fucking 'care innovations' company who the LGC apparently employ to triage ophthalmology referrals. Obviously, GPs cannot be trusted to refer to the right people, so this company in Henley-on-Thames does it for them.
The letter told me I needed to be triaged by an optometrist, and gave me a list of four clinics to go to for triage. In order to select one, I had to either ring up and tell them who I wanted to be referred to, or go online and do it. WHY NOT JUST SEND ME TO THE NEAREST? WHY THE FUCK WOULD I WANT TO GO TO A CLINIC 30 MILES AWAY?
So, I did this, only to be told that my 'chosen provider' will send me an appointment in the post.
*jumps up and down in a rage*

In ye olden days of eye referrals pre-NHS-sell-off, you saw your optician, they sent a referral to your GP who passed it on to ophthalmology, who trusted their secretaries to triage it and send you a suitable appointment. The process took perhaps a couple of weeks. This has already taken a month.
Now, I don't talk about it much because it's evil, but I am suffering quite severe postnatal anxiety at the moment. The very IDEA of going blind, never exactly appealing in the first place, has been preying on my mind like a giant wasp that will not stop hovering by my face. All I really want is an appointment to be told what the hell is up with my eye, so I can work my flailing anxiety into something like a sensible approach to the whole thing. And now I have to go and see an optometrist, who will then probably send me to ophthalmology anyway, lengthening the whole process into one of months rather than weeks.

Not to mention how confusing this must be to people who are perhaps less computer savvy or presume the crappy junk-maily scam-ish letter is junk mail, particularly if their sight is poor. I mean, it doesn't even have anything visual to suggest it represents the NHS:
It's almost like they're trying to get people to ignore the letters so they can cancel the referral (she said, cynically).

15 Oct 2015

16th October 2010

"When you're stuck in that spiral, you reach up". 
"What if there's nothing up there?"
"Just reach up."

Five years ago, the world stopped spinning and I fell down a hole. And there I stayed for two weeks. A very long, very dark two weeks. Two weeks of starved, quiet shock. Two weeks of hiding. Two weeks of numbness all day and sobbing all night. Two weeks of waiting to die.
Then I reached up.

I can barely believe it's been five years. Both light years ago and yesterday, and yet so much has changed. My uni module asked me what I considered to be the point at which I became an adult. For many, I suppose it's a birthday, maybe becoming a parent or buying a house. For me, it was getting divorced. Turning 18, moving out, getting a job, turning 21, buying a house, getting married, having a baby, none of that made me a grown up. I was a child playing house, playing mummies and daddies. Then overnight, I became entirely responsible for myself, for my toddler, for my unborn baby, for the bills, for our income, for cleaning, for meals, for locking up every night, for closing the curtains on the world and opening them again the next day, still going, still alive.

People told me then and tell me now, they don't know how I coped. As if I had a choice. Never tell me you wouldn't cope in the same situation. You have absolutely no idea what you can cope with until you must. Then you find your ability to cope is almost limitless, but that there is an emotional tradeoff. It's the tradeoff that makes people bitter, angry and depressed. It's the tradeoff I still fight with.

For me, I am glad it happened. I am glad my heart was broken. I am glad my security was shattered. I found myself in the darkness, and I liked who I found.

 I'm posting this today because I don't want to think about it tomorrow. 

7 Oct 2015

The Hell Of The School Run

As you may know, I have three sons. Eldest (Jim) is in year 2, middle (Jack) has just started foundation and the baby is three months old. Oft have I heard "Oh, you're so lucky, now you've got them in school - you have the whole day to yourself!" Well, yeah, if you discount the fat baby who acts starved every couple of hours while the sun is up, I suppose that's sort of true. Except the school run is the world's most exhausting hour of the day, and brackets the sweet taste of freedom with the sour taint of awful.

5am Baby wakes up for a feed and doesn't settle for an hour
7am My husband escapes to work, silent as a ninja, to avoid waking the noisy ones. He fails.
7:10am - 7:30am Stampede of screaming elephants, bed-invasion, fights, head-injuries
7:30am They vanish downstairs and grow suspiciously quiet. Stupidly, I nod off briefly
7:40am Alarm goes off. I prepare to get up. I doze off again.
7:50am Alarm goes off. I start to get up. Baby wants feeding AGAIN.
8am Baby releases me, I run downstairs, tripping over my stupid nonfunctioning ankles, and get them breakfast
8:05am I get dressed, and use the bathroom, shouting down at the boys to get dressed
8:15am Me and the baby arrive downstairs. Both the big boys are playing Lego, ignoring their neat piles of clothes
8:16am After being shouted at, Jim begins dressing, I start sorting out the bookbags and doing my hair
8:20am I notice Jack is still in his pajamas playing Lego
8:21am I bellow
8:22am Jack is now floating around, naked but for one sock
8:23am I dress Jack and shout at Jim to put his shoes on
8:25am The phrases "WE SHOULD HAVE LEFT BY NOW!" and "SHOES!" become my entire vocabulary
8:26am Jack asks which way round his shoes go on. I show him.
8:27am Jack's shoes are on the wrong feet. Jim gives him a lecture on correct shoe wearing.They fight again.
8:28am Jim asks why I'm so angry. The baby starts to whinge.
8:29am I throw coats at them while I get my shoes and coat on
8:30am I drag them out of the house, pulling the pram through the hall filled with toy cars, lego and Angry Birds, yelling about the mess. We get to the top of the path and Jack has left his bookbag behind.
8:32am We try again.
8:38am We arrive at school, picking our way through large groups of teenagers going into the high school at the slowest pace they can bring their teenage legs to go. Jack has just shouted "HELLO, FAT MAN" at a random stranger and I'm trying not to burst into angry tears. The playground is deserted. The caretaker hoves into view, gate keys in hand. Jim wants to kiss the baby goodbye, while I scream "MOVE! GO IN! THEY'RE LOCKING THE GATES!"
8:40am We get round to the foundation area. Caretaker is standing by the side gate looking disapproving. The baby is screaming. Jack wants to kiss the baby. I lob him at his classroom door and run, lest I get locked in and have to navigate the narrow labyrinth of the school with the pram.
8:45am I get back home and vibrate for fifteen minutes, trying to calm down. The dining room looks like a bombsite. I spot a letter I should have responded to three days before. I eat breakfast, at last. The baby is still crying.

Six hours later..
2:45pm I start thinking about leaving. The baby is asleep. I'm warm and comfortable. It's raining. I give it five minutes.
2:56pm I throw the sleeping baby in the pram and take off at a run.
3pm Panting, I pull up at the door of foundation. Either all the children have already been picked up, and Jack is stood mournfully at the door, OR the door hasn't opened yet and it's like a pushchair circus.
3:05pm I walk round to the main building to pick Jim up. His teacher wants a word. He's been naughty. He gives zero fucks. The teacher clearly expects me to do something about it right there and then - like what? Belt him round the head? - and is disappointed when I nod, smile and try and work out why. The children run amok.The baby is starting to get grumpy, being dragged from his warm slumber into the freezing outdoors. Eventually, I round them up and we leave.
3:10pm - 3:15pm We navigate the gauntlet that is a high school kick-out time. Children on bikes who think I know they're coming up behind me! Swearing, shouting adolescents! Terribly bloody music! The police! School leavers with enormous pitbulls sat near the bus stop waiting for their sixth form girlfriends! Drivers that do not know what this strange lever is on their steering wheel that would give me some idea of their direction while I wait to cross the road! Jim starts shouting about what he wants for tea. Jack runs off. I catch Jack and make them both hold the pram. They promptly drag on to it, slowing me right down and getting their feet run over.
3:20pm We get home. The baby is screaming. The children abandon coats, bags and shoes in front of the pram, apparently without thinking I might need to get through the hall. I put the kettle on. I wish it was acceptable to have tequila.

We only live a five minute walk from school. My heart goes out to those who live further away.