Category Archives: health

No News…

Well, I’m still here – not that I really didn’t expect to be but just the same…

Last week I popped into the local Emporium of Healing for an MRI scan of the old noggin. They’d already done a blood test looking for some obscure protein that might have indicated that my memory problems were caused by some sort of chemical imbalance. That would have been good news because then they could treat it. But no. It came back normal so we move on the scanning the inside of my head.

I was relieved to find that there wasn’t a search fee involved in case they couldn’t locate my brain. They were more interested in the inner workings of my ear to discover why my hearing is so much out of balance but, hey, while we’re in there we may as well have a good look around! So they did and now we wait for the results.

The good news is that there’s no news because if they’d found something nasty then they assure me I’d hear pretty damned quick – assuming efficiency of course. To be fair, the NHS are pretty shit hot on nasty stuff so I’m highly optimistic I’ll be around to irritate the fuck out of everyone for some time to come.

On the hearing front, I’m getting used to being able to hear stuff again properly. It’s disconcerting at first. You’re overwhelmed by the input until the brain adjusts to it. When you put the things on, the first few minutes is the worst until the brain dampening cuts in. After a couple of weeks, I’m beginning to forget that they’re there. I’m certainly not self conscious about them. After all, if you can’t see properly then you wear glasses, so it’s the same sort of thing really.

Mrs D is monitoring whether some of my problems have been down to deafness. I certainly feel better but I’m still forgetting stuff – like when to put my damned hearing aids in! Ironic really.

And my optician tells me that my cataracts are growing very slowly at the moment so at least we’re putting that dreaded procedure off for a while yet.

All in all, things aren’t going too badly. Well, put it this way – they could be worse. And probably will get to be so.

Happy days…


Deaf, blind and stupid

It comes to us all doesn’t it? Old age. Second childhood. Senile decline. Death. You know? All that happy stuff…

My regular couple of readers might have noticed that I’ve not posted much lately. One of them might have wondered why. Well, to be honest I’ve had other things on my mind and, frankly, I probably forgot. Things at Chateau D are not all that bright and beautiful at the moment.

It started slowly. Mrs D was wondering if I was ignoring her – always a rather risky thing to do – but I wasn’t. I just didn’t always hear her or catch what she said. So she nagged on about getting a hearing test. Being an obstinate old bastard, I resisted as long as I could then gave in. Off I toddled to Boots for a free test. They said come back for a second one. Then tried to convince me to spend £2,500 on a set of hearing aids. Bugger that, thought I so on the advise of a friend I asked my GP to refer me to the local hospital. Apart from anything else, I wanted a second opinion from somebody who didn’t have a vested interest in selling me the damned things.

Anyway, to cut a short story long I am now the proud owner of a shiny new pair of NHS hearing aids. Just like the ones in Boots, but £2,500 cheaper and with free ongoing maintenance and batteries. I can hear a lot better, but this is not always a good thing!

Then yesterday I went to the opticians for my annual check up. She confirmed that the cataract in my right eye is progressing – thankfully slowly – but that I now have one in my left eye as well. So we’ve tackled the hearing, but the sight is an ongoing problem. Marvellous.

But am I worried about all this? Well, I am in my lucid moments. This morning I tried to put toothpaste on the shaver. Then I tried to put toothpaste on the electric toothbrush without putting the head on it first. It doesn’t work too well like that. When I did remember the head, I put my wife’s pink one on instead of my blue one. So far today has not been going well…

So deaf, blind and gaga. Not a great prospect is it? Even less of a great prospect for Mrs D as she’s the poor sod who is having to put up with my somewhat erratic behaviour.

At least now I can hear her complaining about it – when I remember to put the hearing aids in, of course – and for now I can see when she throws things at me (only joking, darling!). Hopefully it’ll be a goodly while before I’m too far gone to notice or care, and to be honest I worry more about what all this is doing to her rather than to me.

Old age and decline is a bastard. I wouldn’t mind but I’m only bloody 66…

Charlie Gard

My sympathies go out to Charlie Gard’s parents. A sick child is a terrible thing for any parent to have to endure and all the more terrible when the prognosis is life threatening or, even worse, terminal.

I have personal experience of this. When my grandson was born, his blood sugar levels were so low they couldn’t be measured. He suffered – like Charlie – from a genetic disorder which would kill him if untreated. This is CHI or Congenital Hyper Insulinism. In simple terms it’s reverse diabetes. The pancreas bangs out massive doses of insulin which destroys blood sugar levels.

We got lucky. There was a doctor on duty who had worked at GOSH and recognised the condition. He was rushed into intensive care and tubed up. Sugar was pumped into him to keep him alive. A few days later he was rushed to GOSH in an ambulance, blue lights flashing.

He stayed there for four months. 95% of his pancreas was surgically removed. He received live saving drugs every four hours. He was fed through a tube directly into his stomach.

When he got home, his mother had to inject him. At night a feeding pump kept him alive until morning. This went for years until a new drug was developed the meant he only gets injected once a month. This meant the feeding tube was eventually removed. He’s ten now. Checks his own blood sugar and eats something when it drops too low. He’s back at GOSH for a few days every six months for tests and monitoring. There is no cure.

Charlie’s condition is, of course, far more serious but there is no more terrifying an ordeal for any parent than losing a child. I remain convinced from personal experience that everyone at GOSH did everything they could in Charlie’s best interests and am appalled at the vilification they have received from people with no detailed appreciation of the situation.

I have no more knowledge of the facts other than what I have gleaned from the media and, from experience, that can’t always be trusted.

What I do know is that GOSH do not deserve the abuse they have received. I only hope that the people dishing it out never find themselves in the same situation I did.

If they do, then they might come to regret their current behaviour…

Smile! You’re on the picket line!

So – yet another strike by junior doctors. This time 48 hours and the promise of more to come.

I’ve never quite understood why this is happening. Yes, I know that the contracts are being changed and that one of bug bears is the redefinition of out of hours working, weekends and all that. But whenever I see the union bods talking and being asked to define their grievances, they just bang on about the wicked heartless Tories, putting patients at risk, not privatising the NHS and saving the NHS for the people. They never actually answer the question.

So I’ve come to the conclusion that these strikes are mainly political. After all, continually striking like this makes me more inclined to use private medical care. I appreciate not everyone can afford it, but let’s not kid ourselves it’s always been there. I see no creeping privatisation.

And if we’re going to try to take the moral high ground about patient safety, then why does the next strike planned for later this month remove the emergency care cover currently being provided. Won’t this put patients at risk?

Furthermore, they’re going to stop covering ITU. The clue is in the name. People are in ITU because they’re critically ill. They’re in danger of dying. So maybe the removal of this cover is just to grab the headlines when the first patient dies? Of course, it won’t be the fault of the striking doctors; it will be all down to Jeremy Hunt for forcing them to let people die. Let’s up the political stakes and to hell with the poor bloody patients we’re shouting so loudly about putting first.

And Mrs D made me think yesterday morning as the BBC and Sky News covered the picket lines outside hospitals. They were all smiling happily and seemed jolly pleased to be there. Smile – you’re the telly!

No, I’m afraid any sympathy I had for junior doctors has evaporated. You’ve lost my support – and I suspect the public’s patience will soon run out too if you keep playing politics with people’s lives.

Statins. Oh fuck!

My regular reader may recall that I wrote a series of articles last year regarding my experiences with statins. My cholesterol was going up and the doctor convinced me I should be taking them to avoid the increased risk of heart problems.

The offshoot was that having tried three different types, I simply found that my system cannot tolerate them. Thankfully a different doctor accepted that and tried me on Bezafibrate. She didn’t expect it to work but thought it was worth a try. To everyone’s surprise, they worked! My cholesterol is down.

Now, according to the latest news to break about these popular government health sweeties, it seems I might have had a lucky escape. Researchers say that statins, which are taken by around 12 million patients in the UK, are more likely to cause calcium deposits in the arteries, which can lead to a heart attack. They might lower cholesterol, but they also block a molecule needed to produce vitamin K, which prevents calcification of the arteries.

Strangely, the side effects of statins – in my case the worst being muscle pain and weakness – include decalcification of the bones so it would appear that they suck the calcium out of where it is needed and dump it where it can kill you.

NICE do, of course, have a way of wriggling out of the catch-22 situation. They say ‘Patients should firstly think about stopping smoking, drinking less alcohol and changing their diet and exercise; then they should consider taking statins if they are appropriate.’

Funnily enough, that not what they were saying before this story broke. Then they were recommending that everyone over 40 should be taking the damned things!

Still, if you’re looking to reduce the burden on the NHS then I suppose killing your patients is one way of doing it…