Idle Thoughts of a Tidalscribe

Why Omicron, what happened to the other letters before that. I keep forgetting what it’s called… Omicrom, onicrom, Covicrom… What is your favourite Greek letter? I rather like Epsilon.

For ordinary folk everyday chit chat is banal, but the life blood of family, friends and hum drum jobs; the antidote to World Crisis, disasters and politics. It means nothing to outsiders and sounds very dreary.

Six boxes short on the crisps and they haven’t delivered the sandwiches!

Hardly a Global Crisis, but to the three workers on the team it is a big drama.

I saw Phil when I was in Aldis!

A remark full of significance when you relate your shopping trip to your friend, in fact you messaged her before you even left the store.

Our regular banal conversations are now littered with remarks that meant nothing two years ago, testing positive would probably have referred to pregnancy.

Sharon’s tested positive. Have you had your results yet? Evie’s going back to school on Friday. No she can’t think where she got it from and her friend had to come and collect the dog.

Covid, Christmas, Chemotherapy and restricted lives bring vivid dreams as our brains take themselves on holiday. Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley camera club in the church hall – in my dressing gown and pyjamas. Next minute a fellow blogger ( who doesn’t even blog about cooking ) was concocting the most delicious recipe, deep frying rich wraps of hidden delights. The food fantasy is understandable when chemo and sore tongue make food tasteless or vile. I am obviously missing an ideal opportunity to ascend to a higher spiritual state in which food is no longer important, or even vital. I do not have what it takes to go into the wilderness and live on leaves, but at least I have found that out now before going up a mountain or into the desert. The fact that millions of people do not have enough food does not stop me being filled with lowly envy when people drop remarks like

‘No, we’re fine, we stopped off at MacDonalds on the way.’

I hardly ever have MacDonald’s and have certainly never ordered a cooked breakfast from Tesco to be delivered to my door, but these are now things on my wish list for 2022. I have learnt a few things though. Expensive and fad diets are pointless, if you eat less you lose weight. If you want to try this without chemo, just picture honestly what you have eaten and drunk at the end of each day and cut out the sneaky biscuits, fizzy drinks, crisps, chocolate ( insert your favourite treats ) the next day. I do now have an insight into young children at meal times, or people with eating disorders; putting something into your mouth when you have no idea what it will taste like or cannot bear the idea of anything passing your lips. We glibly tell our children they are going to like strange textures and flavours with no notion what their tongue is telling their brain.

Your body in good health is a marvellous machine that repairs itself, with your skin and nerves protecting you from the outside world and your internal organs function efficiently without having to be programmed by a computer. You do not need expensive moisturisers or exotic food supplements. But there are the odd benefits to chemo interfering with your system. After decades of barefoot and sandal wear resulting in as many decades of pumicing and moisturising my heels ( in fairness to our bodies, the feet naturally grow tough soles to walk barefoot, much healthier than wearing shoes ) my heels just fell off, revealing the feet I had not had since I was  baby…

Gaia Has Chemotherapy

As COP 26 draws to a close, or not ( at the time of typing it officially closed yesterday, but they are still talking ) we wonder what treatment Gaia will undergo next, another round of chemotherapy?

With my fourth round of chemo, a different drug with different side effects, it dawned on me how much chemotherapy patients have in common with Gaia. Like us she is infused with poisons and chemicals that go against her normal healthy, natural lifestyle. One bizarre effect was my face and backs of my hands looking and feeling sunburnt, symbolic of the raging wildfires that Gaia suffers.

Chemotherapy kills fast growing cells, healthy ones as well as cancerous. A sore mouth is proof how efficient your body normally is at keeping the delicate lining of your mouth healthy. We regularly assault our mouth with crunchy toast, sharp potato chips, barbequed ribs, hot spices and throat searing whisky. It is amazing how quickly your mouth returns to normal in the week before the next round of chemotherapy. If we stopped Gaia’s chemo, how quickly would her healthy cells return to normal?

When I had my phone consultation with the oncologist he said ‘How are you?’ and I replied that I had a list… He decided I should have a 25% reduction for my final two rounds, not because all food tastes disgusting and my hands look like a zombie movie, but because of peripheral neuropathy in my hands. Lots of conditions can cause this tingling, pain and numbness, but so can chemotherapy drugs, sometimes permanently. I wonder if COP26 will result in an agreement to a 25% reduction in Gaia’s chemotherapy dose?

 What I have learnt so far.

 Losing your hair is nothing, losing your normal taste is far worse. If we are lucky enough to have food to eat it is a civilised pleasure and one of the Covid Comforts.

No one would know I have lost my sense of taste…

For the normally healthy person Chemo is a little insight into the world of chronic health conditions. Fatigue in long Covid, loss of taste in lots of Covid cases, the wrecking of the immune system that the early AIDs patients suffered and the nerve damage suffered by conditions such as multiple sclerosis.

You can have Ibuprofen and paracetamol at the same time! But not if your doctor has told you Not to have Ibuprofen.

Baby toothpaste is excellent if you have a sore mouth.

Pamper parties on Zoom are a real thing. The hostess sends a box of tiny sample tubs and you only have to provide a bowl of warm water. We all tried each sample out together and with the hostess not actually being present there is no pressure to buy. Having wondered what I should wear and which Hannah Bandanna scarf to choose, it turned out we didn’t need to dress up for this party; a couple of sisters were lounging, tucked up under their throws as many of us do for a cosy night in with the television. It occurred to me that some people in Covid isolation might join in the party just for the company with no intention of buying. The lotions and potions were lovely.. and expensive, but I had already had some as a birthday present so I knew they were good. As soon as my face started cracking up I was on line ordering my organic repair kit.

May not be accurate representation of a Covid vaccination…

I am lucky my doctors’ surgery is one of the local centres for vaccination. I queued up with lots of others one Saturday for our flu vaccine, everyone semi dressed with arm ready, in the front door and out the back door in seconds. In the meantime The Bournemouth East collective Collaborative Primary Care Network ( who makes these names up? ), which I didn’t know existed, took all calls about Covid jabs and were very helpful as I had to have the jab in Week 3 when my immunity was back on track. On Wednesday evening there was no queue and we all went in the back door of the surgery and came out the front door. It was very quick, until we realised we had to spend fifteen minutes sitting in the waiting room afterwards, hence the reversal of doors. Our exit time was written at the top of our leaflet on possible side effects and a volunteer stated the time every five minutes, no chance of an early escape! Everybody is having Pfizer and the jab is the same whether it’s a booster or primary 3 for anyone on chemo or immunocompromised – another new term most of us have learnt during Covid –  we get a booster in six months. The volunteer asked us if we would like a sticker, I was the only one to accept. One lady was adamant that the minute sticker could provoke Antivaxers, as if there were hordes of Antivaxers protesting outside…  

Funnily enough I had no side effects at all from the vaccine. I know plenty of people do, but they are happy to put up with it because Covid is not going away. DO get your vaccine or booster, or whatever you are due for.

If you enjoy medical mysteries you will find plenty in this novel. Enjoy some winter escapism… have a peep inside.

Chemo Club

Yesterday morning I had session Three of chemotherapy and the cannula went straight in, all positives, so I wanted to do a quick blog. The only hiccup was something going on in the hospital pharmacy and they neglected to tell any of the staff on the ward that there would be delays so they could phone us all to come in later. We all had to wait for our drugs. But the four of us were so busy chatting from our socially distanced chairs that time flew. Three ladies with more problems than me and all different cancers ( though I did have the trump card of being widowed ) and great senses of humour. We talked about everything including the after life. I am part of a real club! And I should add that we all agreed the medical staff are great.

How did you all manage without Facebook etc yesterday! Of course I thought it was technical problems Chez Tidalscribe till I tuned in to that much older medium the radio and The News!

It is a good while since I was working on a novel, with all that’s been happening, though I have never stopped writing short stories. I keep wondering how on earth I managed to write forgetting that I have written five novels. I think Three Ages of Man remains my personal favourite, it is the second of the trilogy, but can also be read as a stand alone novel. It is about ordinary folk, but they do tend to have extraordinary experiences and you may find out how we are going to manage the planet and our health in two centuries’ time…

Needles

Week Three after my first chemotherapy session included an appointment to oncology outpatients to see a nurse. I told her how fit I was feeling and she reassured me the fatigue would get worse each time  ( perhaps she said slightly worse )  and it was amazing how fitness levels dropped. She also said this was the week when hair thins… but she did order me mouth wash for next time; sore mouth and food tasting like mashed cardboard is probably the worst part. But like the fatigue it had suddenly got better and food tasted wonderful.

Sure enough, two days later my hair did start falling out; yay, no need to bother with the cold cap next time and I could get out my collection of colourful scarf/hat Chemo Chic wear, mostly ordered from Hannah Bandanna. It didn’t all fall out and I look rather like my grandmother, who even when I was young had very sparse wispy white hair. We just took this as being what a grandmother looked like, along with the large pink plastic whistling NHS hearing aid box that hung on her chest. Now I wonder if the hair loss was upsetting for her and was it the stress of bringing up three children while Granddad was away in World War Two ( away in Southport with the civil service, not on the front, he had already done that in WW1) or perhaps genetic, her sister was completely bald and hung her wig on the bed post overnight.

May not be accurate representation of Tidalscribe

UK Stylish Chemo Hats And Headwear For Cancer Patients. (annabandana.co.uk)https://www.annabandana.co.uk/

Sunday ‘chemo eve’ I went with my son to the beach hut and we had a swim in the sea. He probably got more than he bargained for; walking along the cliff top we met a couple I know, who hadn’t heard about the big BC. He has lung cancer so lots to chat about!  On the way home, walking along the promenade, we met more friends at their beach hut and she recalled her bowel cancer   treatment…  You’re never alone with cancer!

In the ward on Monday was the young lady from last time with a full head of hair and about to put on the cold cap, proof it can work. The lady opposite me was sitting quite happily with her bald head uncovered. They were trying to put in her canula, while she repeated she didn’t usually have any trouble. At the chemo group chat the sister had said they can always find a vein. I gather putting a canula in is a nerve wracking rite of passage for medical students and I would certainly not like to try putting a needle into and not straight through a thin or even invisible vein.

Smugly I assumed mine would go smoothly, but my nurse also had trouble. I have only one arm they can use – the arm of the lymph node removal is apparently out of bounds for everything including doing blood pressure. Inevitably the desperate tapping of veins etc has to be performed with the patient looking on, which can’t help, but third time lucky. Meanwhile it was about fourth person lucky, a nursing assistant, who managed to get into the vein of the lady opposite.

The ‘red poison’ is put in slowly by syringe; it is so strong they must keep a close eye to make sure it doesn’t go into surrounding tissue. The second drug just goes in by drip and was only supposed to take fifteen minutes, but no sooner had I messaged my lift that I wouldn’t be long than the alarm beeped. The drip had come to a halt; much tapping of the tube and fiddling with the box the tubes feed through between the bag and the arm. In the end the nurse removed the yards of plastic tube, dumped it all in the bin and started with a new length of tube; an idea I had been tempted to suggest myself. All was well until just two minutes left when it stopped again, luckily she was able to restart.

Soon I was ready with my bag of prescriptions to take home, the large bottle of mouth wash making it deceptively heavy. I followed the WAY OUT signs, but luckily paused at the entrance to rearrange my stuff and glancing in the prescription bag realised the seven day course of injections ( which stimulate white cell growth ) was missing. The centre is actually in temporary accommodation in a large ward while the regular place is being upgraded; I had great difficulty finding my way back through the maze of desks, little rooms and other bays till I found Bay Three. My needles were still in their fridge.

At home three days later I was waiting for the district nurse to come and do my first injection, they can call any time between 8am and 5pm, but I had this funny feeling the hospital may not have contacted them and phoned up before noon to make sure. No they did not have me down and did I have the prescription form? NO, I had not thought to look in the bag and check. They cannot do injections without the oncologist’s prescription form on which they have to stick a tiny label peeled with difficulty from the syringe and write the date. What number to ring? After searching through my bundles of information I had no idea, but actually phoning the main hospital number and working through the options is the easiest approach and I did end up in the right place. The nurse said notification should have ‘gone to the hub’ and then out to the district nurse. I was home alone and no I couldn’t send anyone to fetch the forgotten prescription. Fortunately she agreed to phone the district nurse and email them the form…  I wasn’t totally convinced and had almost given up hope when the nurse turned up at 4.55pm.

Now my aim was to learn to do injections myself, it looked quite easy. In the stomach is not as bad as it sounds, subcutaneous, under the skin, just a matter of taking a fold of fat skin. I’m sure there are many people out there used to doing injections on themselves for various conditions, but this was my first time. The next day I did it under supervision, no problems, yes I would manage fine by myself tomorrow.

The nurse said the cap on the needle point is very stiff so you have to grip tightly and pull hard. Next morning I did exactly that… the plunger came out and liquid sprayed into the air. I had broken it. I took out another syringe and made sure I gripped the right part, success. Perhaps I would keep quiet and not tell anyone about the broken one…

Wednesday Wonderings

Have you had the jab yet – whoops sorry, those who have a phobia about needles do not like to hear that word and certainly do not like seeing the constant images on the news of smiling pensioners being vaccinated against Covid. But this is the biggest programme of vaccination in The World ever, so there is plenty to talk about; have you had it, why hasn’t my ninety year old aunt had it yet, which one did you have, should I have it…

I had the phone call on Friday to turn up at 4.30pm on Sunday for AstraZeneca; all weekend  the news was about the effectiveness of AstraZenica, would it resist the South African variant etc.   Who do you trust? There is a sizeable group of people, in every country, who do not trust any Covid vaccination, ranging from those who have a genuine medical reason and have been told not to have it, those worrying if animal products or alcohol are used to make it, through to CIA involvement. I don’t know if those with a needle phobia will also be avoiding vaccination.

This is another issue to divide people, as if we hadn’t enough already. It’s not compulsory in the United Kingdom, but the big picture is to get as many people as quickly as possible vaccinated for any chance of life returning to normal and to save as many lives as possible. Anthony Fauci is one of the world’s leading experts on infectious diseases and now chief medical advisor to US President Joe Biden, who no doubt listens to him more carefully than his predecessor. I heard him on the radio saying if people ask which vaccine they should have he tells them to have whatever is offered as soon as possible, because we can get vaccinated again. Other experts say similar things; my lay reading of all this information flooding into our brains is This is just the Start. Most of us have absolutely no idea what goes on in laboratories, except it involves microscopes and tiny glass droppers. Viruses mutate and in the same way that different flu vaccines are offered each winter, Covid vaccination could need to be updated and offered every year.

Meanwhile back in Southbourne-on-Sea, the fact I was called so soon, when I am not vulnerable, is nothing to do with my age, but the rattling rate at which the NHS are getting the vaccines done! Procuring vaccines in the first place involved a huge operation and cooperation between government and private concerns. This was followed by a great deal of organisation and commandeering of buildings from leisure centres to fire stations.  Regular NHS staff have been joined by retired doctors and nurses and army medics, plus an army of volunteers to herd people safely.

But I did not have to go anywhere adventurous or blogworthy, our local GP surgery was doing jabs with seven rooms open. We all lined up safely spaced and after a couple of minutes outside, it was only ten minutes from going in the front door to going out the back door. As there was a bitter easterly wind, the ten minutes included divesting several layers of clothes and scarves to have an arm ready and putting it all back on again. We filed to desks to get a sticky label with name, date of birth and a mystery number, which was stuck to our information sheet. The advantage of having the NHS is we’re all on the computer; all that has to be done is print out millions upon millions of sticky labels… When I arrived at the needle point there was a doctor to jab and a person tapping into the computer. We get a tiny card to bring back for the second jab, no date, but in 10 to 12 weeks. Of course I am bound to forget where I put the card, so remind me it’s in the top drawer left hand side…

The Game Of Life- Covid 19 Edition

Essays submitted to BBC Radio 4’s PM programme detailing its listeners’ coronavirus experiences are to be archived by the British Library.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-52487414

The Covid Chronicles were launched in March when presenter Evan Davis asked his audience to write in with personal accounts of life during lockdown. Perhaps this is what I would write, though I have exceeded the suggested 400 words.

The last day life was normal for us was Burns’ Night, 25th January 2020. Friends came round for dinner, my husband cooked. The day before, his birthday outing of choice was a trip to Ikea, our last outing.

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Life hadn’t been completely normal since his cancer diagnosis in autumn 2018, but chemotherapy had gone well and 2019 was filled with what was normal for most of us last year, holiday breaks, long walks, family visits, going out with friends…

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By February this year things had gone off at an unexpected tangent and downhill. Family were flying over, driving down, coming in shifts and helping out with stays in three different hospitals. We were aware of the virus, but the main defence was hand gel; how ridiculous that seems now. The main entrance of Southampton Hospital, where his major operation took place on 2nd March, was like an airport; twenty four hour Costa Coffee, shops, cafes and people, lots of people. The intensive care unit was a quiet little bubble away from all this; you had to phone from the waiting room to be let in, but that was the only restriction.
On two occasions we were called into a little room to talk to a doctor, but after a few days my husband was on a ward. In the background to our little lives hospitals were planning for the virus to get worse, suddenly he was transferred to our local hospital and we were wondering how this Coronavirus was going to pan out. Our physiotherapist daughter had already been organising the NHS and her brothers and now she made sure our house was ready, persuading the ‘social care team’ I would cope fine in my new role as carer. I don’t drive, but I’m fit, we have great local shops, family would continue to come and stay at regular intervals and friends would be dropping in for coffee and jigsaws, what could possibly go wrong? The reluctance to let my husband go suddenly changed to a flurry of Covid 19 bed emptying activity on his ward.

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At home things went as planned, some friends were already voluntarily isolating, but others came round for coffee. Our last family visitors left the evening after Mothering Sunday, by the time they were on their way home, on Monday 23rd March, the Prime Minister was telling everyone to stay home and close everything. We were already confined to home, now everybody would be at home; though I certainly wouldn’t have wished for a world wide pandemic just to feel we were all in the same boat.
My husband soon got The Letter – the most vulnerable people to stay at home for twelve weeks; I was now a shielder as well as a carer. By now we all understood the theory, it was a duty for everyone not to get Covid 19. My humble Covid Challenge, my contribution to the NHS was to keep my husband out of hospital and not get the virus myself as I am his sole carer.

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So here we are in our cosy little bubble, thanks to our kind next door neighbours and the local greengrocers, butcher and Co Op doing home deliveries, I don’t go near any shops. I only venture out for a walk and to our doctors’ little pharmacy; one customer at a time, the staff wear masks and shields. The amazingly fine weather and the garden have given lockdown a holiday feel. As a retired couple with lots of interests we’re used to having relaxing days at home; now every day is a relaxing day at home. Real carers are people who look after severely disabled children or partners or parents with dementia, for year after year. Apart from having to think what to have for dinner and cook every single day, life is easy and there is time for gardening, writing and blogging.

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In the Game of Life, Covid 19 Edition, over 35,000 people have died in the UK.

We have been given another extra turn and got some bonus points; loved ones and friends have been safe so far. Lucky to have a garden, not have to worry about losing a job or trying to home school children. Lucky that what happened to us came just before lockdown.

Have you written a Covid Chronicle or kept a journal?

The View From Here

Week Four has started, week four if you happen to live in the UK and hadn’t already started self isolating because you had symptoms or that dreaded term ‘underlying medical conditions’. I’m sure those with medical conditions wish they were underlying rather than a feature of their lives that cannot be ignored.
But whether you are fit and well, or one of those ‘vulnerable’ ( another overused word ) folk who received a letter from the NHS telling you to stay indoors for twelve weeks, your experiences will differ and prove again that life is not fair.
Different countries have evolved various sets of rules and ways of enforcing them. Here in the UK a lot has changed in the past three weeks; while the number of deaths has increased, we are no longer just hearing numbers but hearing the stories of those who have died. Many people have recovered, but any of us could lose family and friends. Most of us probably now think we should have started this sooner; letting the virus run its course and building herd immunity now seems a ridiculous idea.

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It doesn’t feel right that most of us have to stay at home doing nothing, while medical and essential workers hardly see their homes, but we have to keep as many people as possible out of hospital. So the routine for most of us is leave home only for vital shopping, to help our vulnerable neighbours and for daily exercise. For those of us with a vulnerable person to care for at home we have to accept we should not go near shops.

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My view from my home is good; the house across the road is on a corner plot and has a lovely garden with cherry trees in blossom; just to see people and dogs in a garden is a welcome sight in a deserted road. In our back garden the new peaceful atmosphere is highlighted by blackbirds and our robin singing their hearts out. The next door neighbours have been bringing shopping and as they are working from home and the children being home schooled it is much livelier than usual on weekdays and we have chatted more – at a safe distance or texting. The children have started writing stories, inspired by me giving their parents a paperback copy of one of my books; they also write notes on paper aeroplanes to fly over the fence, all good activities for home schooling.

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Our road is not completely quiet; families go past on their daily exercise, Mum jogging while Dad and children pedal furiously to keep up. Couples who never considered ‘going for a walk’ now have a new routine.
For writers, bloggers, gardeners and retired people who have plenty of hobbies and are used to being at home, so far so good. But what of those in cramped flats with children, nearby parks closed, or people living alone in one room who need the space and company that come with being out and about working and spending time with friends.

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If we have had a chance in the past to choose where we live, how could we have foreseen that downsizing to a ‘convenient flat’ or being adventurous and buying a run down stone cottage on a remote mountainside, might be a mistake?
How is the view from where you are?

The NHS

I was going to write about The NHS weeks ago, but events kept overtaking me and the subject.

‘The National Health Service is the publicly funded healthcare system of the United Kingdom. It is made up of four separate systems that serve each part of the UK: The National Health Service in England, NHS Scotland, NHS Wales and Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland. They were established together in 1948 as one of the major social reforms following the Second World War. The founding principles were that services should be comprehensive, universal and free at the point of delivery. Each service provides a comprehensive range of health services, free at the point of use for people ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom, apart from dental treatment and optical care. The English NHS also requires patients to pay prescription charges with a range of exemptions from these charges.’

https://www.nhs.uk/

Often the NHS is only in our thoughts when we are having our own personal dramas. Sometimes it is in the news for the wrong reasons, when things go drastically wrong. At present it is in the news all the time, it IS The News. The system that has cared for most of us from before we were born until we take our last breath is now responsible for steering the UK through the world wide pandemic. Whilst many people have been told not to go to work and stay at home, NHS staff are hardly seeing their homes. Government quickly forgets all the cut backs, poor pay for some, meddling, outsourcing and attempts to sell bits off that put the NHS at risk and expect all the staff to rise to the challenge… and they have. Perhaps when or if this is over those in power will do the right thing, instead of the public having to continually sign petitions pleading for our national treasure to be protected.
I recently finished reading Adam Kay’s Book This Is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor and reviewed it on Goodreads.

‘When my planned caesarean for our first baby ( breech ) turned into a 1am Sunday morning dash to Queen Charlotte’s Hospital a week early, one of the staff said ‘You’re in luck, the registrar’s on tonight’ I wondered what would have happened if he hadn’t been on. They may also have said I was lucky it was a quiet night. Anyway, everything proceeded quickly. When the same early imminent arrival happened with my third caesarean the same hospital was busy with a worrying lack of progress; the surgeon told me he had another emergency caesarean to perform and he had rung the consultant – for advice, not actually to come in; consultants don’t come in during the night as you will find out when you read this book! The anaesthetist said he had been on for 24 hours, I was shocked, but this was no doubt the norm, then and now. Adam Kay’s book is very funny, but there are dark moments and to an outsider it seems a realistic portrayal of a medical career, the dedication of those who work for the NHS and the cavalier attitude of management and government to our most important and treasured institution. Many readers will find anecdotes that relate to their family’s experiences and people who enjoy medical things are bound to relish this book.’

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35235302-this-is-going-to-hurt

Adam Kay is now a writer and comedian, no longer a doctor. Is the NHS perfect? Of course not, it’s staffed by human beings, some not as caring as they should be, some arrogant and others too scared to be whistle blowers. Tales of what went wrong and what went right are for another time.
One of the sad aspects of the virus tragedy is that the seriously ill are in isolation, they are not able to see any loved ones. Nor do they have the comfort of seeing the compassionate faces of the medical staff, who in all their protective gear must look like aliens or spacemen to their patients. Those of us who have had treatment in normal times know staff come from all over the world, international cooperation at its best.

Going To The Dentist.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that most people don’t want to go to the dentist. It is also true there is nothing worse than toothache, so there are occasions when you may be glad to visit. Another mystery is why anyone would want to BE a dentist, but that’s for another blog (perhaps a blogging dentist.)

Dental tales abound among three groups of people; those who never go to the dentist, those who will travel miles to visit the one and only dentist they trust in the whole world and those who change dentists as often as their clothes. The last group doesn’t always reflect on the dentist; how many of us put off going for a check up, then are too embarrassed to face our dentist; you can’t fake it for he will look up his records…

‘Sorry I missed my last check up.’

‘It’s actually eight years since you were last here…’

So we seek out a new dentist who must go through the whole procedure – dictating to his assistant in a strange language.

4 upper missing, 6 right lower decay, front left 7 amalgam, back lower 15 gold crown…

Just put this sharp piece of plastic in your mouth so we can take an XRay…  and the other side, open even wider for this extra large piece of plastic. Okay, that’s all for today

Sigh of relief.

Make an appointment for next week for three fillings and a three hour appointment in a fortnight to remove those four teeth…

I knew someone who would ring round dentists asking ‘Do you knock people out?’

The answer is usually No as dentists do not want to be responsible for a patient dying under general anaesthetic.

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My frequent attendance at dentists as a child was through no fault of my parents, except genetically. I was not allowed to have ice lollies, only ice cream, sweets carefully rationed. It was the orthodontist I had to visit at nine years old. At the time it was thought it was necessary to act quickly before it was too late, but nowadays plenty of adults have their teeth straightened and braces are an accessory.

I had teeth too large and too many to fit in my mouth; nearly a dozen first and second teeth had to be removed to give the remaining teeth room to grow straight. In those days cocaine was something injected into your gum at the dentist, the local anaesthetic. There was also gas, general anaesthetic. I sampled both, how it was decided I don’t know; I recall gas required the dentist to have a doctor present. The first time I was to have gas I walked into the room and was horrified to see a huge tank with a large skull and cross bones on. My first sensation on waking up was feeling the dentist was trying to yank my mouth open.

In between all this I wore a single wire on my teeth, a removable plate. Visits to the orthodontist were to tighten the wire, a cause for aching mouth during the night, but probably not as sore as after tooth extraction.

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Why do we have such fear of dentists?  People unlucky with ill health or accident have surely endured much worse suffering. Perhaps it is because it is our head, an intrusion into the part of our body we need for speaking and more vitally, breathing. We can’t talk or protest. I’ve had three caesareans and two carpal tunnel operations awake; lying helpless in the dentist’s chair is definitely more daunting.

But don’t be scared, it’s not really that bad. A handy hint; the older the building, the narrower the wooden staircase, the higher up the winding stairs you go, the better the dentist.  My current dentist is in an edgy part of town, a nice young man at the very top of the building, unlike my previous dentist he discusses everything with you first. I had a tooth out on Monday, it’s not fun having the first needle go in, but better than the alternative! Luckily he asked if I could still feel anything – YES – so he gave me a third shot.

Tell us your best – or worst dental story.

sunshine-blogger

 

 

The Game of Life – A Game of Sevens

sunshine-blogger

A real game of life is played out on a television documentary every seven years.

Seven Up! was commissioned by Granada Television as a programme in the World in Action series broadcast in 1964. From 7 Plus Seven onward the films have been directed by Michael Apted a researcher on Seven Up! who helped choose the original children. The premise of the film was taken from the Jesuit motto “Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man”.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Up_(film_series)

This has been proved and not proved; the rich children, who already knew at seven the private education mapped out for them, have indeed been successful in predictable careers, but some of the ordinary kids have achieved a lot. Would we have guessed a Yorkshire farm lad would become a nuclear physicist in the USA?

I have followed much of this series and most of the participants have stuck with it, what an opportunity to create an historic record of society and your life. The interviews seem dignified, but candid. The most interesting has been Neil, at seven funny and full of life, but by 21 finding life difficult and over the years he has had ups and downs. It may be fashionable now to talk of mental health issues, but Neil has always faced the camera when he could easily have dropped out.

https://inews.co.uk/culture/television/63-up-cast-now-7-up-line-up-what-happened-itv-when-time-episodes/

Does the taking part in such a programme influence what you do in your life? How many of us would want our lives exposed. I guess seven years is long enough to get on with your life unobserved before the next episode. How would the rest of us fare under the seven year spotlight? At seven I was in a Church of England junior school and life was pretty simple and good; I would never have guessed that at fourteen I would be living on the other side of the world. We emigrated to Australia when I was eleven.

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I can imagine sitting giggling with my best friend and being interviewed like the three girls at their comprehensive school. However I do not think I would have liked my gauche pimply self filmed for posterity. At fourteen I would never have guessed I would be back in England just before my twenty first birthday; ostensibly on a working holiday, but with absolutely no idea what to do next. I wouldn’t have wanted Michael Apted probing into my ‘life is something that happens to other people ( quote from Alan Bennett ) period.’ At twenty eight, married with a toddler and over extending ourselves to buy a little flat, I could have put in a reasonable appearance, with career failures pushed into the background…

The ‘seven uppers’ have a unique record of their lives, with 63 the latest episode shown recently. Will the director Michael Apted still be around to make 70 Up? In the twenty first century bloggers can write about their lives in minute detail for everyone to see, will young bloggers keep blogging for their whole lives?

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Meanwhile in real life Cyberspouse finished his chemotherapy course, followed a few weeks later by a scan and last week we saw the oncologist to hear the results; everything still stable, nothing changed since the last scan, report back for check up in six weeks. Take an extra throw of the dice.

But a visiting in-law heard her relative had just died, four years after being given six months to live.   The Game of Life has no rules, or at least not rules the medical profession can understand for sure.