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Saturday, October 1, 2016

Shit Week, Trish from Appleton, Shimon Peres quote



A really shit start to the month

September started off badly. My wife fell over and broke her wrist, my mobile telephone stopped working, my car stopped working. But far, far worse, a dear friend who worked with me for seven years lost her twenty year old son who passed away unexpectedly in his sleep while the family were on holiday together. I can scarcely think of anything worse. I went to the funeral which was a beautiful celebration of his life and underscored the tragedy of the unfulfilled potential of such a young and brilliant life. It is incredibly hard to believe in a greater being overseeing the world when tragedies like this happen. And it puts all the rest of our problems into perspective. On occasions like this, most people don't know what to say; it is very hard. But of course much harder for the parents, the sister, who will require a lot of time and support. They coped fantastically.



With my wife's broken wrist, there are two aspects that struck me. Firstly, I have learned to do all sorts of new things, such as put on earrings (on my wife, not on me), dress someone else, wash someone else, prepare leeks and a whole bunch of other things that I probably don't want to write about; all tasks that carers must do routinely. Secondly, I have spent more than ten hours at the hospital trauma department (spread over three visits) and whilst I can't fault the treatment, the administration and the organisation left a lot to be desired. It feels like it has been left behind in the mid 20th century. Letters to confirm appointments that often arrive the day after the appointment (a letter plus postage costs over £1). Waiting times that make you wonder how many millions of man days are wasted every day. Scores of people trying to pay the high car parking charges at machines that don't take cards. People sitting waiting for hours on end when they could be walking around, getting some fresh air, doing something useful, spending money in one of the caf├ęs and summoned back in by a text message rather than a member of staff calling out their name.

You can choose the colour of your cast bandage!

This is how it works: arrive at appointment time. Wait about half an hour to have an x ray taken (it takes 2 minutes) then back to the waiting room. Wait another hour to be called to be seated in a cubicle to wait to see the doctor. Wait half an hour to see the doctor. Spend 5 minutes with the doctor and go back to the waiting room. Wait maybe 10 minutes to be called to have your cast put on / replaced / removed. Go and make next appointment. Thats roughly how each of the three appointments my wife had in the trauma unit worked out. I am incapable of sitting down for half an hour at the best of times (I still work from a standing desk) so I spent most of these appointments walking around the hospital grounds in the sunshine. My wife whatsapped me when she was called in to see the doctor and on each occasion I got back at least 10 minutes before she was seen. I am not going to attempt to re-engineer this process, but it just seems strikingly obvious to me that a more pleasant service could be provided to patients and a lot of money could be saved by the NHS by simply using technology such as text messages!

The John Radcliffe Oxford University Trust Hospital

Trish from Appleton

As I was doing some work in the garage, I saw a lady going round the houses door to door in our street. As she approached me in the garage, I said hello and she introduced herself as Trish from Appleton, a village just down the road from our house. She told me that she was raising money for a cancer charity, and would I like to sponsor her. She explained that she was going to stand on top of a bi-plane as it flew as her sponsored activity. I was silent (speechless) for a moment and then I said do you mind me asking how old you are? She told me she was 85 years old. Moment of silence. Then I asked if she had ever done anything like this before. She said that last year she flew at 102 mph on a zip wire between two mountains in Snowdonia and that previously she has been sky diving. I am certain that she was telling the truth as she was just that sort of lady. I went ahead and sponsored her and she said that the event would be in the local paper. Wow! I was going to say that I hope I will be able to do that sort of stuff when I am 85, but since I wouldn't do it now, that's probably not what I want to say. By the way, being strapped to the top of a plane is called 'wing-walking'. And good luck to her!

Wing Walking


Quote of the month

"You know who is against democracy in the Middle East? The husbands. They got used to their way of life. Now, the traditional way of life must change. Everybody must change. If you don't give equal rights to women, you can't progress."

Shimon Peres, Israeli statesman who died aged 93 on September 28th 2016


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