Thursday, June 27, 2013

Helping a stranger.

Tonight while walking to the station talking to a friend on the phone on handsfree (headphones in) I came across a very sad situation. As I walked out of the park, I heard someone shout quickly, perfectly normal for London. Moments later 3 people on mountain bikes rode past. An instant later a young girl ran around the corner shouting and crying, pointing at the guys on the bike. The bikes were now 50 metres or so down the road.

Realising something was clearly wrong, myself and two other girls stopped the girl to find out what was going on. Call ended, headphones off and dialling 999 I asked her to explain what had happened. In quite a calm manner she briefly said they had snatched her iPhone from her hand while she had been speaking on it. She had thankfully come to no harm, but was very shaken.

While I spoke with the police and gave them details, the other two kind girls let Emma (the victim) call her family who she had been speaking to at the time of the robbery. With the police on their way, and details passed to them, I turned my attention to Emma. Sadly the girls had to rush off but left their number in case they were needed.

The police arrived pretty quickly, over shooting the first time unfortunately, but came back around very swiftly. Two superb cops from robbery came to take details, and we're very calming and comforting to Emma, who after speaking to her family was really starting to show signs of shock (understandably)

I left my details with the cops, and passed them all the info I had for them, and bid Emma farewell. As I walked to the station I did a cheeky redial of the number she had called, just to make sure whoever she had spoken to were reassured she was ok and unhurt. And that she was safely with the police now.

It's amazing how much of an impact such a brief but emotionally charged moment can have on you. It's times like this I remember why I bother to get involved, and help with situations like this, and sadly reminds me why I wanted to join the Met so badly, for so long! Helping people is such a rewarding thing. I'm just gutted I didn't see things a little quicker so I could have grabbed one of them, or done a little more.

So Emma, I hope you get over this quickly, and don't let the fear of this incident affect you. You are a brave girl coping so well. As for the cowardly little pricks that did this.... Fall in a river you wastes of space!


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Monday, June 17, 2013

A little self pity...

...ok maybe quite a lot, but hey I deserve it I'm sure.
About 3 weeks ago my foot became very sensitive, with what seemed an irritated bunion. For the first week I did the true Brit thing, gritted my teeth, moaned a bit, and got on with day to day life the best I could.
By the end of that first week, the final trip home on the Friday night had me near to tears. Taking tiny steps I hobbled through the park to the station and got on the train to go home. Once home my trainers came off the second I walked in the door... and they have sat there ever since.

Some days walking is agony, others days it's just very painful! Since that Friday the only footware to come near my foot has been flip flops (Nike of course lol) It took a week to even get those on, and that was just for a trip to the doctors. 

With the foot heavily swollen for the first trip to the doctors, it was obvious that I had gout in the joint, so I was prescribed tablets to deal with this. Instead of my usual Diclofenac I was given Indometacin which is similar in its treatment of gout. With some quite strong side effects, for the first week I mixed the Indo with Paracetamol to keep the pain down. Strangely, unlike usual flare ups of gout the pills seemed to have very little effect at all. The swelling went down a bit, but the pain remained.

By that weekend I decided I was going to have to see the doctor again, so the following Tuesday I went to see the doctor again. With no swelling left, but heat and tenderness in the joint I was told it's still gout, and told to keep taking the tablets. This time to counter the side effects I was given Omeprazol to calm my stomach a little. If they have worked or not is a matter of opinion.

So here I am gone is the end of the second week on medication and here is the third, and I have to say..... No different really. Occasionally I will get an afternoon or evening of little discomfort, get my hopes up, the POW it's back like a mofo! So this morning I booked an appointment to see the doctor again, and this time will ask for Diclofenac if they wish to continue treating me for gout.

This is effectively the 4th week of a single flare up, 6th if you count the occurrence shortly before. For me this is unheard of. At worst I have had 10 days worth at this level before.

So now I am left in a predicament. This is the start of my 3rd week off work, and I honestly am sick of it. Sitting around all day every day, from bed to settee and back again as a daily routine, it's driving me frickin mad here. So I have ordered some crutches off the Internet, and unless explicitly instructed by my GP to stay resting, I will return to work on Wednesday.

The biggest issue for me is footwear. I physically cannot get any form of closed footwear on. A flip flop right now is pushing my luck due to the swelling.  Trying to put a very soft Nike trainer on yesterday left me punching the bed in pain. The slightest amount of pressure on the side of the joint of the big toe reduces me to a sobbing mess (almost). Walking out and about in flip flops is unnerving, especially the thought of being on a busy train with my toes exposed. Yes I know people do it daily, but more fool them I say!

It's not impossible, and people with far greater mobility issues manage on crutches daily, so I'm not saying I can't do it. But my biggest issue all along has been having the leg vertical. Be it sitting or standing, a prolonged period with the leg not elevated starts to hurt like hell. Including the commute to work, and the 6 hours at work, that will be about 8 hours a day of NON elevated leg. Hopefully the Diclofenac can ease the issues this will cause.

So fingers crossed tomorrow the GP will give me the pills I'm more familiar with, they will start to work, the crutches will turn up on time, and by Wed I will be back at work :)

Speaking of delivery of the crutches... they are being delivered by Yodel... God help me! I have instructed them to be left should I be out at the doctors, but im confident that some issue of sorts will arise to mess my plan up. I just don't want to have to hobble the 3/4 of a mile thru the park each way, as that's what starts to cause a bad day. The thought of hobbling all that way, then not being able to elevate my foot is making my foot ache! 

Right, thats all that off my chest. 

Oh re the pic at the beginning. On any given normal day, the veins in the foot are visible to the front, running into the toes and around the big toe... you can see from the pic where the swelling currently starts as the veins disappear. 

I'm done :)


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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A&E at breaking point

I am the first to admit that I have probably spent more time than some in hospital A&E departments, so coming from me this might all be a little hypocritical I know. But stick with me for this one, and see the subtle differences.

From an early age I have been 'unluckly' shall we say, and managed to find myself in many situations which have resulted in trips to the hospital. In the 80's growing up, I was so well known in fact at Sydenham Children's Hospital (now flats) that Sister Bell could get most of the paperwork done without asking my mum a single question. Broken arms (plural!), knocked down by a car, and referrals from the GP for various things like ingrowing toe nails, ruptured testicle (sorry I had to include that one)  etc. It all happened there.
But in my defence, as a child 'shit happens' Seemingly more to me than others, but kids just have accidents, fact.

As I have got older, I have managed to take the stupidity a bit, and my visits have become less and less frequent. Which I have to say is a blessing for two reasons. Firstly I'm not hurting myself as much, and secondly the kind of people you get in these places is alarming. And it's this point that it all really starts with.

For those lucky enough not to have visited an A&E or an ER, it will all be a little alien to them, seeing these shows like 24hours in A&E, and 999 what's your emergency. How it all works, what the system deals with, and who uses it.

Let's look at the name Accident and Emergency.
An accident which causes you harm requiring immediate attention, or an emergency situation where your physical well being is for some reason jeopardised. Now that's a wide spectrum and does indeed have scope for everyone and everything in there. But apply a little common sense for starters.

The TV shows occasionally show us scenes where someone has done something really quite minor and has chosen to blow it out of proportion, and turn it into a drama. Deciding that their situation is so horrific and unbearable, that they require IMMEDIATE attention. And I mean immediate. You see, for some reason, the more trivial the injury, the lesser the need for attention, the MORE irritation, anger and impatience oozes from these people.

'I have only sprained my finger and you want me to wait 4 hours?'... you know, you're right... FUCK OFF HOME THEN!
For anyone who has not visited an A&E dept, for you lucky people, allow me to tell you one thing for a fact... Certainly in London, if you visit one between 8pm and 6am, you can be sure that a LOT of the people seeking attention are under some level of influence of drink. And will see things like black eyes, sprained wrists and ankles, bumped heads, and other stupid falling over drunk kind of accidents.

Now of course, any incident causing injury to yourself which may require attention should be attended to, no doubt there. But maybe there needs to be some adjudication here, and maybe compare it to car insurance. Most of us pay PAYE tax and National Insurance which is our contribution towards health care, so consider this a third party insurance policy. Anyone making a genuine claim would be covered.

But... if you are a drunk who always likes to spend the early hours in A&E because you fell over for the 5th time this year, then maybe you need to be fully comp, or pay for your own repairs. I use drunks as an example, there are of course many more people who fall into the time wasting or self inflicted categories, as well as the pure time wasters.

Anyone visiting A&E is booked in, and 90% are at least seen by triage. People who think A&E is just like a GP but is a walk in clinic are clearly stupid, and people like this should be charged, or at least warned that charges may apply for further misuse. There are specific walk in clinics around the country, which are NOT A&E departments. Having just waited 2 days to get an appointment to see a GP, and having spent the end of last week and whole weekend in agony, with no sleep and in lots of pain, YES, I know it's not ideal, but sometimes you just have to wait your turn, plain and simple.

The culture of 24 hour shopping, banking, car washes and a life of convenience seems to have gone a little too far now, and people seems to misunderstand the role of these vital A&E departments.

They are over stretched, under staffed, and over run with time wasting morons who are drunk and think they are funny, bored and think it's a pass time, or people who are far too important to wait their turn. Meanwhile ambulances are stacking up, serious cases are being kept waiting, and seriously ill people are being left for hours undiagnosed or untreated, while 2 more stupid people have their little boo boos attended to.

Seriously now, WAKE UP BRITAIN!
It's the same time wasters and arrogant people who choke up these services with petty things, that sit there complaining that their toe nail which is torn needs URGENT attention, and that 3 hours is too long to wait, and how ridiculous is it. Stating that there should be more staff working, seeing people quicker, and then make sharp intakes of breath when they read the latest waiting time figures.
Don't you get it.... IT'S YOU! You are the cause of these issues. The staff are adequate on most shifts to deal with the genuine cases that come through the door. It's the time and resource wasting antics of stupid and arrogant people that cause these figures to skyrocket.

Responsibility for our actions was shunned a long time ago, and now society demands that whatever the cause, whatever the issue, public services should bow to your needs, and you should be given the attention you demand of it. Well, tell you what, NO! It needs to stop. 
Refuse collection used to be one bin fits all, now it's broken up, and people who don't comply end up with unemptied bins. Drink driving used to be tolerated, but now it is frowned upon.
So maybe it's time for the NHS to have bouncers at the reception desk, and to turn away anyone who is not an A or an E, and refer them to another service. 
Oh hold on, I can hear it now....'but its my human right'.... well that can fuck off too! Stop the pandering, ease up on the pussy footing around, and just get hard with it. Fast track these people the hell out the door, and give the people who deserve and need the attention, every second they need.

And while I'm on the matter.. If you rock up to an A&E with a genuine case, and the waiting time is a bit long, text a mate, slap it on Facebook, hell send a whiny tweet.... don't take it out on the staff eh!

I think that's my rant over for now. But will finish up by saying this.
The NHS as a whole is an amazing system, providing health care in a way that some countries envy. For someone who has spent a lot of time in the system both as a patient and as a carer, I think the NHS and all its staff are fantastic. From call centre staff right down to surgeons, and everything in between, I salute you and thank you for you choice in life to help others and work in some horrible conditions, with some truly foul and undeserving people.

Rant over :)

Thanks for reading.

PS, if you know a time wasting arsehole that likes to chew up the NHS's time, push them down a flight of stairs and show them the difference between a boo boo and a real emergency!


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Monday, June 3, 2013

The four seasons of my foot

So after accepting recently that I have a bunion developing, my body thought it would be hilarious to quite clearly throw Gout into the mix too, and flare up on the very same joint.
To be honest I'm not sure if it's better or worse that way, as having something in both feet would be horrific. Only had that once before, and was totally unable to move at all.
So for the second time in a short period I am off work again. Seeing a doctor at my local GP's tomorrow, and seeing what they make of it.

One issue is going to exist though, which will irritate me no end. The bunion was causing me great pain on its own on Thurs and Fri, but the gout showed up and got going at the weekend.
As it is still here, trying to explain to a doctor that this is the SECOND phase of the issue, and the gout is NOT the underlying issue will be near on impossible. Which means, once the gout is back under control, a second trip to the GP may be needed if the bunion persists.

Obviously I have the pictures of the foot before the redness and swelling, but whipping my phone out in the middle of diagnosis is a little cheeky, and to be fair won't tell them much, other than showing them the bunion in its normal state.

All in all I'm sick and tired of it all now, as is anyone who reads my blog I'm sure.

But for the record, the pics from top left, 
TL Friday evening, extreme pain from bunion
TR Sat and Sun Gout showed up, LOTS of pain
BL This morning, after rest, painful but calm
BR This evening, swollen, hot and hurts like hell.


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Sunday, June 2, 2013

Discomfort and pain

Many times when people talk about how 'painful' a tattoo is, suggesting some of the areas of the body I have had inked must have caused a great deal of pain, I joke and say tattoo's are not painful. But instead they cause discomfort when being done. For some this is hard to comprehend.

Over the past 6 or so years I have had a number of issues with my body (and mind for that matter), mainly my left arm. From tennis elbow through to trigger finger, and in later years gout.

My latest ailment, which I believe to be a bunion, or something similarly painful and fucked up, reminds me so very clearly why I call tattoo's uncomfortable rather than painful. Not only has one never caused me sensations like I am feeling right now. But also I define discomfort as something bearable, and that you can tolerate to reach a goal. THIS however is clearly pain, and something I want rid of now.

It's gone 1am, I have taken way more painkillers than you are meant to, and they are having no effect whatsoever. Deep breathing, meditation, distraction... nothing I know to do is working and I am truly at my wits end here.

I want the pain gone now, I don't want to feel like this anymore. It's been almost 4 days now of varying levels of discomfort all the way up to fist clenching, eye watering pain, and that's there level I'm at right now. Helpless is how I feel, and I don't know how much more of it I can take.

The thought that the earliest possible appointment with any GP at my surgery is at least 36 hours away, and probably even longer if I see my own doctor. Then god only knows how long it will take from then to see a specialist, and go from there. In the meantime I can only hope that this spike in pain passes and things calm down.

Regardless of how gruesome the pictures of surgery for bunions are, no matter how long the recovery period is.. If that's that I have, then I would take the surgery in a heartbeat right now.

My whole body is tense from the adjusting of how I walk, having to lay with my leg elevated and all other side effects. I just want to relax, sleep and be pain free now!


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Saturday, June 1, 2013

Bunions! Seriously?

As the picture might suggest, a home made ice pack is required on my foot right now, to take down some swelling and somewhat numb the discomfort or dare I use the work 'pain' of my left foot.
As if gout has not been enough, it would appear that my feet have decided to punish me further now with a bunion. Familiar with having a very tender big toe joint from when gout shows its ugly face, the first signs are similar. Sensitive joint, inflammation, and near or impossible to walk.
It wasn't til yesterday I really took the possibility of a bunion seriously. Of course over recent months I have seen a little deformation of  the joint, but shrugged it off as nothing to worry about (not that I am 'worrying' now) But yesterday I was in extreme pain, same level of pain I had when I came around from elbow surgery, kinda 'please just knock me out' pain. Needless to say walking on it was a stupid idea, but I wanted to at least try and carry on.

The trip to and from the station to get to work took over double the normal time as I hobbled along trying to keep moving. Needless to say, I probably did more harm than good. For starters, the slightest amount of pressure on the knuckle of the big toe causes discomfort. Even my joggers brushing over it as I try to walk, is not very nice at all.
As for the walking part. Anyone who has had any kind of injury or ailment which has required them to adjust how they do something, will know the consequences can really be quite something.

Going back a few years, when I was first diagnosed with Tennis Elbow, I suffered quite badly from over compensation. With my left arm unusable I did everything with my right, which when added with bad work ergonomics, caused massive problems with my back, neck and shoulder on the right side.

This time around, I am more familiar with the side effects of adapting my walk. Having gone through this many times with Gout, my muscles and joints are a little more used to me walking like a youth with an attitude. The difference this time is the duration this is required. With gout, as you get into your stride, you slowly become more able to use the affected part a little more, as if it frees up. The body and mind working together allowing a certain amount of pain to be bearable, in order to let you walk without causing too much damage to other parts.

This however is not the same. Regardless of how far you walk and how long you try for, with any pressure whatsoever on the knuckle, the pain is relentless and unforgiving. For example, the 0.75 mile walk to the station from work with gout would be a little something like this.

After sitting at a desk without shoes for 6 hours, gently slip the shoe on, and hobble to the door. Leave the building slowly trying to ease yourself into a stride. 5 mins later you have found an awkward compromise and can carry on with a fair amount of discomfort, but minimal pain. By the time the walk is over, the sensations being experiences standing and walking on the foot are bearable, yet still far from pleasant.

With this current situation, with what I believe to be a bunion, it's world's apart. The beginning is the same, but from that point til reaching the end of the journey, the pain actually increases as the joint gets stressed and more inflamed. So much so, that while on the platform yesterday I was very tempted to just take my trainer off.
Speaking of footwear, I wear Nike trainers of various varieties, all of which have never caused discomfort. Soft materials applying less pressure, for those gout flare ups. But putting them on or as I discovered yesterday evening, taking them off can be agony. Right now, the way my foot feels I have NO intentions whatsoever of trying to fit a shoe on.

So as I sit here writing, ice pack on, leg elevated, I realise my pain killers are wearing off, and also realise that it is the painkillers which have given the greatest relief so far. With the recent scare of ibuprofen and diclofenac contributing towards heart issues, I have no questions in my mind right now what I am going to do... So I'm off to get some ibuprofen.

Thanks for reading. I am off to the doctors asap next week, to get looked at and have no doubt this will end up with further surgery. Something to look forwards to so I read. Guess it's a good thing I didn't get Breeny's tribute tattoo started on this foot just yet after all.


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