Gratitude for the NHS

Saturday and Sunday I still felt somewhat shocked and shaken, by the fall I had on Friday evening, as full sensation and feeling hadn’t yet returned to my right foot and ankle. As I stood up it still felt as though I had a spongy platform sole on that foot.


My beloved rang my GPs surgery first thing on Monday morning and, she explained to them what the paramedics recommended, so the Wednesday appointment offered wasn’t soon enough. About half-an-hour after that, a practice nurse ‘phoned me back and, when I explained the situation, I was soon granted an appointment with Dr Desha at 12.40pm. Although there was a delay before getting in to see the doctor she was extremely thorough in her examination of me, blood pressure, reflex, touch, response to hot & cold in the foot etc. She prescribed 4 dispersible aspirin to be taken immediately, Clopidogrel and Amlodipine, to be taken each morning, to deal with my high blood pressure, and prepared a referral to the TIA clinic at Harrogate District Hospital.


As the time was getting close to that for the House Group / Bible Study chez nous, my beloved left me waiting for my prescription at the local pharmacy whilst she went home for the car to collect one of the attendees at our meeting. Sat in the over-chilled air conditioned pharmacy I suddenly felt quite shaky and weepy. The pharmacist kindly phoned my beloved to see if she would bring the car around to collect me.


The house group had already started in the meantime and I was eager to participate rather than sit on my own, feeling broodingly sorry for myself. Around 3.00pm, mid-way through the meeting, the ‘phone rang and, it was the hospital informing me that I had an appointment at the TIA clinic at 10.00am Tuesday.


Next morning I saw Dr Brotheridge at the clinic and, as the symptoms had not completely cleared within 24 hours it couldn’t be classed as a TIA but was likely some kind of minor stroke. Within an hour I’d had a CT brain scan done and, on returning to the clinic he informed me there was no sign of a bleed and the brain looked normal and healthy. He also said that the medication my GP had prescribed was exactly right and he would expect me to remain on that. Meanwhile an appointment was made for me to have an ultrasound of my Carotid and Aortic arteries at 1.00pm; this left time for ma belle chauffeuse and I to pop home for a cuppa and a snack, but before that we had time to go for some blood tests which my GP had requested.


The attention given, and the efficiency, in each department was really special.


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A Fall becomes a Set Back and a Shaggy Dog Tale


Yesterday’s events brought back a memory from 1962 when I was a student nurse in Exeter. I especially recalled a young man on the orthopaedic ward who had a talent for inappropriately releasing the cot sides from his bed. He was recovering from an above the knee amputation but, to his mind and nervous system, the phantom lower limb was far too tangible. Eventually he became an expert user of crutches as he scooted around the ward and, he was soon performing acrobatics on these supports. This young man later returned, on several occasions, to offer encouragement to children both preparing for and having undergone lower limb amputations.


These days with all my sundry aches, pains and other ailments, I envy that resilience. What brought those memories to the fore last night was my having a fall, in the living room at home. I’d just decided to go for a shower but, after the first step I suddenly felt as if my right ankle and foot had just disappeared. No sooner had the thought occurred than I plummeted to the ground, my head landing on the dog’s snout. The dog was on the sofa near the door and, as I fell I heard a growling bark very close to my ear. That growling bark was the dog’s defensive call as this figure fell directly in his direction.


My beloved’s immediate reaction was a desire to drive me down to A&E at the District Hospital but, as I still had no sensation of there being anything below the calf of the offending limb I was reluctant to venture out. Whereas the young man, referred to in the opening paragraph, fell because of the imagined / phantom lower limb. My fall was because I had an intact limb but had suddenly lost all sense of there being an ankle and/or foot there.


We phoned the out of hours doctors number from which we were referred to the 111 service, (? against using the word service), to whom my wife first spoke about me having a fall due to loss of sensation in my foot and ankle. They then spoke to me and went through their usual script – attempting to detect a stroke or the like – but I became increasingly frustrated as she questioned whether I’d had the numb sensation before I got up to walk, despite my constant reiteration that the loss of sensation and my fall were a simultaneous occurrence, even though the numb sensation was still present. She then asked if there was any bleeding and I mentioned I’d had a little bleed from the base of the ear but, that was probably due to falling onto the shocked dog. There were also the usual questions about whether I was running a temperature, “place your fingers on your chest do you feel as if you’re running a temperature” was their suggestion. I explained that in my case I’ve been diagnosed with an infection by a GP even when there was no sign of me running a temperature. Ever since I succumbed to ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis) some 14 years ago, my body thermostat has proved somewhat erratic).


The person on the switchboard then returned to the stroke detection questions – can you raise your arms above your head, can you smile, is your mouth twisted – to which I replied that I didn’t think it was anything like a stroke, having witnessed my mother when she had a major stroke and several TIA’s but, it wasn’t like what I was experiencing. I was just concerned about the loss of sensation in the right foot and ankle and the consequent fall which had proved most unnerving.


I eventually became rather fed-up with the inane repetition of questions I’d already answered from a person who on their own admission had no medical experience, nursing or otherwise, but she did have a list of questions she had to ask. Eventually in frustration I hung up. A short while after that, they rang back to say that there was an ambulance on its way. The ambulance duly arrived expecting to see a dog-bite victim who’d had a stroke!


The paramedics most conscientiously carried out tests on blood sugar, blood pressure, pulse rate and a couple of ECGs. Blood pressure was rather high and the one carrying out the tests did at first wonder if there was a sign of AF. They suggested that I contact my GP on Monday to arrange for a review.


The setback, referred to in the posts title, is that temporarily at least I’ve had to once again resort to the use of walking sticks, albeit as a precaution against a further fall. The shaggy dog tale / story is I believe even more obvious.


 Even an hour after the fall, as feeling gradually returned to my foot, it felt as though I had a crepe platform shoe on that foot, whilst the evidence of my eyes and the rest of my nervous system reassured me that my foot was actually touching the ground.


There was a time when calling my out of hours doctors number would put me through to the out-of-hours doctors clinic at the hospital. There also used to be a service called NHS Direct which had a far higher proportion of medically trained staff dealing with enquiries than is apparent in the 111 service. After this experience I’m rather pleased that for many of us it is, at present, still possible to have a face to face appointment with a flesh and blood GP even though the waiting time is sometimes a problem. I have never felt much adept at communicating with a telephonically disembodied voice, especially one that is so obviously reciting questions from a script!

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New Poem on Archive Mined

I’ve posted the fifth draft of a freshly minted new poem – PROPRIETARY RITES – on ARCHIVE MINED and FRESHLY SPUN.

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Exclusive: Dennis Skinner on his EU(W) vote


As the mainstream media (MSM) pushes a false portrayal of last night’s vote on the government’s European Union (Withdrawal) Bill – formerly called the ‘Great Repeal Bill’ – as being about a divided Labour Party, the aspect of the vote that most Labour supporters have struggled with has been Dennis Skinner’s decision to ‘go through the lobby’ in favour of a bill that contains a damaging ‘Henry VIII’ clause granting government unilateral power to make and withdraw laws.

skinner.pngVeteran Labour MP Dennnis Skinner

The veteran Labour MP, famous for his eviscerating quips at the Queen’s Speech, is an icon to the left – and his decision to vote for the bill clearly rocked many.

Skinner spoke today to the SKWAWKBOX about his decision and his perspective:

Hi Dennis, thanks for making time to talk. There’s been dismay among many left-wingers about your vote last night. What’s your take on it?

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Falling Prey to my inner wimp

Although most days, of late, have tended to feature a time of sustained pain and discomfort, its manner of onset varies considerably. Sometimes an ache in the palm of the hand and fingers, or more frequently wrist, can be set off by simply holding a newspaper or using a laptop computer for just a  few minutes;  at other times  a throbbing ache in the elbow provides  the warning  sign. Unfortunately, on far too many occasions, the ache soon spreads through the arm as a painful throbbing occurs in the elbow, and a nausea-inducing discomfort in the armpits, apparently emanating from the lymph nodes, spreads through the upper arm.


The application of splints, and various supports to palm, wrist, elbows, and even shoulders, serves to alleviate the pain and discomfort but, otherwise, I have to resort to pain-killers, tramadol proving the most efficacious, alongside these external aids.


Although the donning of a shoulder support can proffer relief, it seems quite strange that many times my body screams out for the removal of even non-constrictive cardigan, shirt or pyjama top. It’s not at all unusual, at these times, for me to lie down with both arms stretched behind my back, upper arms clamped tightly to my sides, to proffer a further degree of alleviation from the nausea sensation.


Discomfort in feet and toes frequently occurs alongside the pains in upper limbs and torso, and it feels as if they scream out to be relieved from any (otherwise un-noticed) constriction of socks and any outer footwear. The past twenty-four hours presented me with a monstrous mix of aches and pains, necessitating the donning of additional supports for a considerable portion of both morning and afternoon, yesterday, as the full gamut of excruciating aches and pains in torso and limbs took up residence. The following nocturnal hours presented little opportunity for sleep, or even the slightest hint of relaxation; restless legs and pain skewered toes, alongside sundry discomforts in upper body and limbs, resulted in expletive laden tirades, against the night, emanating from my lips.


Helen, my beloved OH, and our faithful hound Piper, each attempt to console me – frequently to little apparent avail, as I fall prey to my inner, hopeless, wimp!

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Still setting the narrative: Laura P’s ‘Tory enemy’ comment rolls on


Almost a month ago, the SKWAWKBOX spoke to the excellent Labour MP Laura Pidcock in what has since become a famous interview. Asked about the phenomenon of Labour MPs being too cosy with their Tory counterparts who are damaging our country and hurting our people, Ms Pidcock replied:

Whatever type they are, I have absolutely no intention of being friends with any of them. I have friends I choose to spend time with. I go to parliament to be a mouthpiece for my constituents and class  I’m not interested in chatting on.

I feel disgusted at the way they’re running this country, it’s visceral – I’m not interested in being cosy. I hate those Tory questions that start with ‘Does the PM agree with me..?’ – when one Tory MP stood up and asked one I told him I think those questions are disgraceful. His response was ‘you…

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Jacob Rees Mogg calls people who went to state school “potted plants”

Pride's Purge

rees mogg potted plant.png

Tory leadership contender Jacob Rees-Mogg said today he believes women who are raped should be forced to give birth to her rapist’s baby.

Rees-Mogg also once spoke at a dinner to a far-right group which thinks Baroness Doreen Lawrence should be ‘repatriated’.

And the Eton educated son of Lord Rees-Mogg once complained that there aren’t enough Old Etonians in the House of Commons and reckons that people who went to a state school are as thick as “potted plants“. 

That’s you and me he’s talking about folks.

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