The ayes have it

Another two post week – what’s going on?!

Or, rather, the eye has it.

This blog is starting to sound a bit like a hypochondriac’s ramble, but bear with me.

Just before Christmas, while driving to work, I noticed a slight fuzziness in my left eye and a more than usual number of “floaters”. I actually mentioned it to my haematology consultant a couple of days later who advised me to get to see an eye specialist as soon as possible. He even mentioned it in his brief report that he sent to my GP, following our consultation.

I had already made an appointment with my optician who gave me the full eye test. And the news. And a referral through my GP to an ophthalmologist.

It seems that the vitreous humor sack in my left eye has become detached from the retina, a condition known as “Posterior vitreous detachment“. It’s supposed to remain stuck firmly to the retina, but as people get older, it often detaches. Much like the lymphoma, it’s more common a problem in the over 65s, apparently, but not rare amongst youngsters like me. The optician asked whether I had been doing any strenuous work or DIY recently. The day before, I had been trying to drill some holes into a concrete lintel with no success and I was seriously pushing that power-drill against that concrete. I suspect that might have been the cause, as strenuous work can cause this to happen.

There isn’t much that can be done about the condition, apparently, and eventually my brain will get used to it. As it stands though, the vision in my left eye is as if I have a dirty contact lens in, that sometimes moves out of the line of sight. The slight blurriness is my retina “seeing” the back of the vitreous sack.

The purpose of this blog post isn’t to moan about this, but about the way that the NHS now arrange bookings for consultations with specialists.

I was given access to a system called “Click and Book”, whereby one can access the booking system of the hospital directly on the web and choose a convenient clinic. Great. There were lots of choices (although not until mid-February) so I opted for an appointment on Friday 14th. When attending ophthalmology clinics, you are not allowed to drive, as drops that they often put into the eye cause blurred vision for hours afterwards, so my wife agreed to request the day off so that she could give me lifts. I received a letter from the clinic confirming the appointment.

This week, I received a second letter. The clinic had been moved to the Wednesday, not the Friday. No phone call asking if this was convenient. No email. No nothing.

I phoned to complain, or at least ask for an explanation. On eventually getting through to the “Click and Choose” appointment person, she was completely unapologetic and just said that was how things were done and the clinic had been moved. When I explained that it was obvious that it seems that the hospital is only run for the convenience of its management and that the patients are just taken for granted, she immediately sent me off to the Patient Liaison people.

I will write to the Chief Executive tomorrow. As it happens, I can make the alternative date, but that’s not the point. There is no thought given by the management to the needs of the patients, only to themselves.

I have praised the NHS on this blog over the years and I have written to the Chief Exec of the same hospital praising the treatment and attitude of the staff. It’s a shame I feel compelled to write a different kind of letter this time.

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Back in November, I was musing over the cost of motoring vs the cost of moving house to be closer to work. 

The mileage has moved on since then, of course and yesterday was the car’s first birthday.

Like many people these days, I use a Personal Contract Plan to “buy” (read “rent”) my cars and this one has a limit of 40,000 per year. Well, as this photo taken on Thursday evening as I got home shows, I got pretty close…

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On its birthday, we actually went through the 40,000 barrier. I’m not sure how that happened. I certainly didn’t drive round the block a few times during the year just to manage the mileage up, but it’s certainly a coincidence.

Oh well – here’s to the next 40,000

Twitter is rubbish and brilliant. At the same time. Lymphoma news I couldn’t easily have found elsewhere.

Two updates for the price of one, today…

I’ve been on Twitter for a few years now. At first I just couldn’t understand what it was all about, but as it grew and by following friends that I knew who had migrated from elsewhere on the internet, I soon got the hang of it. It has rapidly grown into one of the biggest wastes of time on the internet (as if that wasn’t bad enough in itself) and also one of the most useful.

If you have an interest in tropical fish, or cabbages, want to know what’s happening in your town, or Liverpool Football Club (other teams’ Twitter feeds are available, apparently..) you can do so easily just by following individuals and companies on Twitter. The same is true of Facebook, but there are massive privacy issues on there that Twitter have so far, for the most part, resisted adopting. Long may it remain so.

So, by the judicious following of a couple of organisations, I have learned some interesting things over the last couple of weeks.

For example, Lymphoma Research have recently posted a link to an article on “Reduced intensity treatment in early-stage Hodgkin’s lymphoma” which, although not directly related to the lymphoma that I have, was an interesting read nonetheless.

Another source, Non-Hodgkin’s Today have lots of useful links, such as this one comparing cancer survival rates across various countries and this one on the “The evaluation and optimal use of rituximab in lymphoid malignancies”, something that is definitely relevant. There was this one, from a couple of months ago, about a new drug from a company called Gilead, which is being tested right now for those people who are no longer responsive to Rituximab.

All good stuff and very difficult to find if you are not pointed in the right direction.

New year, new study, new me (sort of)

There comes a time in every (untidy) man’s life where he has to just knuckle down and deal with it. It’s just too easy to shut the door, ignore the problem, procrastinate and delay. It’s no good seeking help. Experts in the field are no good. A man’s got to do… and all that.

Yesterday, I tidied my study.

It’s not a very large room. It’s just big enough to get a single bed in it and not much else. 6 feet wide and 8 feet 6 inches long, to be exact. Our daughter had this room until she was about 15 and we had an extension built and it really was a challenge. Since then, it has been my “study”. It’s not really a study, but it’s a place where the Mac is and the scanners and the printers and all that stuff. The old cameras and lenses sit on shelves, alongside boxes of negatives, old DVD-R disks with backups that can no longer be read. My first ever Mac is on the top shelf. Not for the first time in ten years, of course, I hasten to add, but every so often a concerted effort is required.

It took about 8 hours. Not because of the amount of junk and rubbish in there – although there is quite a lot that needs to be taken to the tip – but because stuff needs sorting before you know what to do with it. There are lots of negatives that need to be filed, for example (a job for later today). Then there are the dozens and dozens of envelopes with prints and other negatives in. Boxes of them. These need to be left for another day when they can be properly sorted and filed. Half of the time it took to deal with this situation, was probably spent looking at negatives and 6×4 prints. I found this one from a couple of years ago, for example…

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And I also found these, from a little earlier…

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1988

Amazing how some people are blessed with not ageing too badly… <cough>

The shredder gave up the ghost twice while shredding old bank statements, insurance documents etc no longer required…

There is a PCWorld-full of old wires, old chargers for bits of kit long-since broken or lost or just ignored. A printer that should go on eBay. The digital camera that we took to Florida that hasn’t been used for 9 or 10 years. And this doesn’t include the stuff that’s in the wardrobe I built into the wall 15 years ago. That’s another day’s work, at least, but at least the door can be shut on that particular challenge.

All this has got me thinking about the amount of transient stuff we collect. Useful for a year or two if it’s lucky, then that’s it. Stuff that we have worked hard to buy and pay for. Stuff that then gets thrown away. Stuff that can’t be recycled.

I get the same feeling when looking at the garage. Like most people’s garages, these days, the idea of putting a car in it is laughable, at least for now. I open the door and look in and think “I have bought all of this stuff” and wonder when the last time a lot of it was actually used. Tools get bought for a specific purpose then never see the light of day again (there’s only so many times you need to lay tiles on a kitchen floor – once).

I don’t think that there’s much that can be done about this, in the modern world. Unless we all return to Victorian times, give up anything with a wire or a chip in it and stop doing DIY.

Anyway, let’s see what hidden gems the pile of negative archive pages bring this morning.