Category Archives: British Airways

Keep taking the tablets…

I haven’t updated this blog in nearly a month, so it’s about time that I did.

Lots of routine stuff has happened, of course.

Once again the car has been serviced. This I time, I had to pay for it myself, as the “service pack” that I bought with the car, which gives the first 60,000 miles servicing at a discount, has expired. The car has now done more than 70,000 miles and, incredibly… , this is a major, serious service. All the filters need to be changed again and I was pleased to receive a text from the garage telling me that the front brake pads and disks all need replacing too. To have got 70,000 miles out of them is very good, but when you turn up to collect the car and are given a bill for £1,060, it’s a bit of a leveller. Even the service agent at the garage raised her eyebrows a bit as she told me how much it would be.

The rear brakes are also in need of replacement in 10,000 miles. I have had these done before, back in June, so I will question that when the time comes round. They really shouldn’t be wearing out so fast. I suspect that there is a faulty reader, or something.

I have also been considering what my next car should be, but it’s difficult to decide with having the house on the market. (No joy on that front, I’m afraid). I really don’t want to be hiring a car for 40,000 miles again in the Spring, and then moving closer to the office so that high rate isn’t necessary. That would partly defeat the object of the move, if it ever takes place. I will make a decision in the New Year, and probably change after Easter.

The Istanbul Challenge voting has been and gone and, incredibly, my shot came fourth. I really wasn’t expecting that, so maybe I must still be doing something right. A decision was taken while in Istanbul that 2015 should see us go to Vienna. Hotel already booked! Flights are a bit of an issue, though… guess which airline offers the cheapest flights to the city… It’s not Austrian Airlines.

And a couple of not really routine things to report too.

Firstly, I have stopped taking the statin tablets prescribed to me before we went away. I have had high cholesterol for as long as I can remember, certainly all of my adult life. When I first found this out, maybe 25 years ago, I went on an extreme low-fat diet and ate at least 60 grams of oatbran every day and managed to get it down to something “acceptable”. However, one cannot live one’s life like that, so the regime quickly fell by the wayside. At a routine blood test at my GP, the results came back high as usual and he recommended that I take a statin. This is an “every night for the rest of your life” deal.

Within the first week or so, I had had two nightmares, something that I haven’t had since I was a child. Disturbed sleep is one of the side effects that can occur, and fortunately, the nightmares only occurred a couple of times. However, since then, I found that I would take a very long time to get to sleep and wake several times during the night. I even installed an App on my phone which monitors your sleep pattern, scoring a most impressive 61% average quality of sleep. Getting fed up with this, I consulted the GP and have been advised to stop taking the tablets for a couple of weeks and see if this helps. So I have, and so far it think it has.

I think I’d rather live with the higher risk of stroke and heart attack than not sleep properly for the rest of my life. That can’t be good for you either. Maybe there is an alternative drug that they can give me that won’t affect me like this, so we will see.

Monday brings the CT scan I have written about in the past and have been waiting for. I don’t not look forward to these, if that makes sense. I know that they aren’t good for you in a basic physiological way, given that they are about as strong as 400 x-rays, but the information that they generate is far more important than that. I see my consultant again in 10 days time for the regular 4 monthly check up and the results of the scan, so that will be interesting. With a bit of luck, he still won’t be able to see anything, but as time goes by, and being 4 1/2 years into my remission, I am staring to feel like I am on borrowed time with this. But, let’s not jump the gun and see what happens in only a few days.

Christmas is coming around all too fast once again. A time to count one’s blessings, appreciate once again the support from family and friends that help us get through the days and weeks and make sure that they know that they are appreciated and loved. I couldn’t do this on my own and my heart goes out to those that do not have the support and love that I enjoy.

No presents for us this year. We have booked to go to San Francisco for a week in March, so that will be a big enough gift. We are flying with Virgin…. Maybe I will hire a car over there for a day and give the booking form as a gift. But now the secret is out… I’m sure that there will have to be a little something under the tree.

The final word on the BA flight issue

As expected, there was, apparently, “nothing wrong with the service” we received from BA back in March (it took 2 months to get a resolution from the CAA). Of course there was nothing wrong – I have gone to all this effort to bring this to the authorities’ attention because there is nothing wrong.

Here is the email that I received from them recently.

Further to my email of 14 April 2014, we are now in a position to respond to your concerns about your flight with British Airways (BA), having now received a response back from BA in relation to this flight and the seating allocation.   The matters you raise in points 1 and 2 of your letter, as I am sure you can appreciate, are customer service issues for BA to respond to separately.

Turning to your matter 3 and our response from BA, notwithstanding your concerns about your safety in terms of being ‘trapped’ in your seats by what you describe as a ‘severely disabled’ and ‘large’ lady, the crew on this particular flight were satisfied with the passenger’s ability to evacuate the aircraft, as required in accordance with BA’s Standard Operating Procedures. As such, whilst the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) do appreciate that having persons with reduced mobility (PRM’s) on flights can have an impact on other passengers, it does not therefore believe the safety of this flight, or the passengers was compromised.

BA, along with all UK operators, takes their responsibility towards the carriage of persons with reduced mobility seriously.  Operators in general cannot discriminate towards those who are not fully mobile, but do have provisions based upon the individual’s ability to evacuate themselves from an aircraft, either aided by someone who is accompanying them or unaided if they are able to do so. 

The CAA is therefore satisfied with BA’s response to this enquiry, but does understand your need to look into this matter.  I do apologise that is has taken longer than expected for us to be in a position to respond fully to your concerns on this occasion. 

Yours sincerely

Now, I didn’t expect anything more than this, to be honest. A lesson learned.

British Airways BA238 Virus

Yes, the second half of the holiday was great too… 🙂

The flight back from Boston was on a Boeing 777, which I reckon is actually a nicer plane to fly on than the 747 we went out on. I think that the seats were just a little wider than before, but that may just be my mind playing tricks. I’m sure BA don’t give their economy passengers any more than they absolutely need to. In fact I am sure of it.

Despite the plane being better, the food most certainly was not. In fact, it was almost completely inedible.

On a roughly 7 hour flight, were were given a tray with a “full English breakfast”, of which only the inch-long sausage was anything like edible. Some passengers received yoghurt and fruit juice, while other lucky ones received two fruit juices. There was an apple turnover thing, which was just a mushy sticky mess that even McDonalds would have rejected, and a bread roll that I swear was so old, the wrapper had the BOAC logo on it. I kid you not. The plastic knife bent as I tried to cut into it. So I stopped.

That was breakfast. A few hours later they came round with lunch. A lemon and orange muffin. Which I rejected on my previous experience of all baked goods on their flights. It really is shameful. If they can’t afford to offer proper, edible food for the prices they feel they need to charge for the cattle class at the back, then just stop offering food at all. Allow people to bring on their own food, bought at the airport. Stop pretending that they are offering a full service and be honest with the passenger.

When I left the flight I was feeling not a little bit cheated and quite a lot hungry. One inch of sausage in 12 hours, isn’t great, to be honest.

By the Sunday night, I was feeling a lot less enamoured with “The World’s Favourite Airline”. (Do they still call themselves that? Was it ever true?)

I woke a couple of times during the night with severe rigors. I wasn’t sweating this time, but it was just like when I had the swine flu. I had a high temperature, but returned to the office and took some paracetamol through the day. By the time I returned home on Monday night, I went straight back to bed for another, similar night. This time the sweats returned and my temperature was 39.1C on Tuesday morning. Obviously I called in sick, and made an appointment to see the G.P. that afternoon. Unfortunately, all I could get was the chocolate teapot one who, as soon as he realised I was under the care of a haematologist, decided this was all far too complicated for him and that I should just get to see my main man ASAP. I will bear this in mind next time need my ears syringed.

Managed to get to see my man at Wednesday lunchtime. My temp was still 39C and they took some blood cultures, plus the usual blood samples. The cultures take a couple of days to grow, but the samples get done in the hour. By the time they had come back, and I had been told that I’d been drinking too much beer as my Gamma GT level was higher than “normal” (not true btw!) and my haemoglobin levels were not as they normally are, I was sent away with some anti-biotics and and appointment for the Friday. I was also asked to try to keep off the paracetamol, in case that would mask any benefit of the anti-biotics.

By the time I returned on Friday, my temp had begun to come down and the result of the blood culture was negative. The consultant advised me to continue the course of anti-biotics, and take whatever painkillers I need for the headache which remained.

So, all in all, I am not very impressed with British Airways, I’m afraid. Not only do they care so little about their economy passengers that they are prepared to feed them any old rubbish, edible or not, but they also provide a wonderful parting gift – a week in bed with a massive temperature.

Now, my circumstances are different from virtually everyone else on the plane, in all probability. The Rituximab maintenance does dampen down the immune system and I had received my latest round 10 days before we flew out, so the levels in my system would be at their highest, meaning that the immune system is at the lowest. I knew this before travelling. But, while over the 9 months that I have been receiving this I had experienced more colds than I would normally have expected to have in a season (entirely normal for Rituximab maintenance beneficiaries), I hadn’t expected to be hit so hard by one of the viruses that get you when you fly. After almost any flight, I would expect to get a sore throat a few days later, but this was in a different league altogether.

So a lesson learned. BA Economy long-haul really is terrible and being on Rituximab maintenance isn’t necessarily the easy-ride that I thought it was. Two lessons.

Now, to find some half decent shots from a very poor, thin stock…