Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Barry White

At my recent hospital appointment I was asked by the consultant what I did for a living.

Before I could answer he started going on about something like how people like me like to toggle on, on benefits while others are begging for whatever it takes to get a better quality of life. My eyebrow must have looked like a wiggly caterpillar.

Cabbage White (Barry White)

So I interrupted

And putting on my best Barry White voice, asked what made him say that? It seems he had read somewhere I was on Job Seekers Allowance. I patiently corrected him, and suggested he'd read the wrong record. I do patient (pun intended)

Not that it was any of his damn business.

I've never claimed unemployment related benefits in my life, for instance Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) or Employment and Support Allowance, (ESA) nor do I intend to. I've never been inside a Job Centre. I'm not allowed to use one either - I'll come to that in a minute.

I've never 'signed on'. Ever. No disrespect to those that do. I just don't see the benefit.

The confusion often arises because even government departments get mixed up between ESA and DLA, which is presumed interchangeable. My experience of ESA only comes from helping people out with their claims, and as far as I'm aware unless you are in the ESA Support Group you are required to attend regular Job Centre interviews and it ceases when you find work.

You can receive DLA whether working or not. It's not means tested and not counted as income. It's there to enable you to be just like anyone else.

There is, a tiny quirk in the system

The government, despite its rhetoric about getting people more productive has failed to address the issue. Unless you are claiming JSA or ESA, Job Centre services are not available.

For instance, if you have a job, and want to change jobs, you can't use a Job Centre.

Daft, isn't it?

That is more than a disadvantage than you may realise. Many of the people I know are in work, with children in low paid or low paid part time jobs, and are willing to take on whatever work they can get their hands on.  It's a bit 'old skool' around here. They see the means to getting income is to work hard, and long tough hours if and when the work is available.

But because they are employed they can, the Job Centre told them, use the computers and take notes on a notepad, however other services such as speaking to an advisor, training, educational opportunities, the usage of phones, access to the internet and free postage, getting their bus fares back (for instance) they have to finance themselves. There is a tremendous amount of help available for the unemployed. But if you have employment? Stuffed.

This is my experience too. Meanwhile, one grabs every opportunity.

As for the consultants opinion? I'm well aware of the administrative cycle they get drawn into, and I get thats frustrating, but hey, don't paint everyone with the same brush.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013


It would seem I've done well to get an appointment for an MRI  (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan, and so quickly. 

After doing a quick ask around Stroke survivor friends I was unable to find one who'd had on. All had at some time a CT (Computer Tomography) scan, as have I.

There's a comparison of the two types of scan here at NHS Choices

As noted in the article, a CT scan is the first choice because of speed. That's because it takes about five minutes, as far as the patient  is concerned, and isn't affected so much by patient movement. The actual scan process itself actually takes about 30 seconds.

The only thing I note from that article is that they inject a dye, which I didn't have.

An MRI scan on the other hand can take upto 30 minutes, which explains the interesting stuff in the questionnaire they sent me about taking along a music cd of my choices. They can also be quite claustrophobic.

They also requires one to declare any metal implants or medical devices, shrapnel, metal dust in the eyes and remove any jewelry except wedding rings. Further, as means of avoiding metal, they suggest jogging bottoms and a T-shirt, otherwise they require you to change into a hospital gown.

Urgh no. I'm a very private person. The first time my wife saw me unattired was after our first 10 years of marriage and after three children, and that's only because I was having trouble dressing myself. So I'll have to acquire a tracksuit. Much to the family's amusement!


I've spoken to a GP friend - not my GP - a super intelligent mega being (poor soul) who has given me a telling off. Which offended me not at all. If you can't take a telling off when you are in your fifties there's no hope for you. He went on to explain that in my area Stroke services since I had my first stroke have been reorganised at least twice in a bid to improve services over 12 years.

Part of those reorganisations was computerisation of records that has been fraught with problems and abandoned schemes and budget cuts, and not specific to Stroke services.  Part of that problem has been that paper records have been scattered around various GP's, Hospitals et. al. for many, many decades.


Secondly, there's a very British attitude towards the medical profession. Members of the medical profession are in constant education, constant advancement and respected for it. Rightly so.

Us Brits respect that, and look up to them as authority figures. This leads, I'm told, to not only expect not only medical, but clerical expertise - and when that fails, and in the heretical expectations of authority perception, it's the Medics fault.

And that part of the medical profession that deals directly with diagnosis has become accustomed to that. But thats not something I'm party to. There's no criticism of me there. The problem I'm having, I'm told, is that I have failed to perceive socio-perceptive model as it exists.

In English, my consistent view that the medical profession is a resource to enable me to make informed (informed by them) decisions about my well being  is a total pain in the arse when coupled with my habit of sitting quietly and listening to what I see as advice. 

The doctors, from long experience think they are saying 'that the way it is' and this is what I'm going to do. Thats what they're used to doing. Which never occurred to me. So when I pop up later and start asking questions it's seen as an, to quote Terry Pratchett, an Embuggerance. 

What I should be doing I'm told it is be up front, on the spot with queries, questions. Great if you can think that fast.

But medical records are not the preserve of the medic. They are the responsibility of the administration. 

I think that's fair. 

Reinforces my view though that if I have the capability to chase up my paperwork I will.  My life may depend on it. Can't wait around for some admin somewhere. 


Monday, 26 August 2013

Flying blind.

I have had the oddest week or two.

I've had a bit history lately of sudden blackouts.

After waiting four months for a Neurology appointment, See Here my Bear and I attended.

I was as expected, prodded, poked and push this, pull that, the works. Then the chap that examined me noted I had trouble fastening my shirt buttons using my right hand. "Y'know" he said "I think you can use that right hand, but for some reason you don't want to"

Note this blog's title.

"I need to talk to your wife". S'ok.

He did, then suggested "I think there maybe some Neuropsychological why you can't use that hand", and asked me whether I had a mental health history. Nope. "Well, you are the first one I've said that to who's not objected" He explained "I need to talk to my consultant". You're not a consultant? "No"

Came back with 'his' consultant who asked all the same mental health questions. Lots of explanations about how some people suffer from hidden childhood trauma who are desperate for a better quality of life who beg for help. I, apparently, have shown little impetuous to reveal any 'hidden' trauma, therefore he wouldn't refer me for that. I said. Hidden? He said "Yes"


Have you, I asked, checked my records? "Records?" Yes. I was hospitalised here and was treated, had a number of scans and ultrasound here and at another hospital and by my GP for years for strokes and small strokes, and it's causes. "We have no records"

Soooo. I've dug through my records, phoned back (well, Anne did) discovered they had the correct name and patient number, a phone number as our number which has nothing to do with us, but in 2001 it stopped. Which means they had a record. It's just that after 2001 they went missing.

There's only so much I can say here, but I found I was referred to a trainee, and the wrong consultant, and a department that hasn't dealt with TIA's for many years. More, I've discovered that most of my medical records are at my Gp's and at another hospital.

These guys were flying blind.

Catchya x

I've had a letter and confirmation phone call asking me to go  for a MRI head scan in three weeks time. Very pleased. I've never had an MRI. CT scans and Ultrasound but not that. So that's progress.

I also discovered they totally reorganised stroke care in 2009 and in 2012 in my city - two totally different schemes. But only for those who are admitted for critical care, not for those with TIA's. The new standard only applies to those admitted to hospital.

I'll comment on that as and when I can get further information. But I'll say this, 'NHS Choices' seems to be a misnomer.