My Doctor needs a pay rise…

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Hospital Style Icon!

… And so do all of the nurses, healthcare assistants, anaesthetists, cleaners, recovery nurses, porters, support staff and junior doctors who may have just saved my life this month.


CN: Mentions of surgery, bodily fluids, hospitals

Despite the ravishing shot of my sexy hospital ensemble, complete with flip-flops and support stockings, this is not going to be a glamorous post. In fact, it is going to be quite embarrassing for me in places, but as our public sector employees continue working into a seven year pay freeze, I wanted to write about my recent trip to The York Hospital and the incredible care I received whilst I was there.

I had a tummy ache and felt bloated. I hadn’t opened my bowels for a few days so assumed this was the result of constipation and began drinking fruit juice and eating high fiber cereal. Two more days passed with no success in the bathroom and I was in increasing pain and discomfort. By the early hours of saturday morning the pain had become unbearable and I decided to ring 111 – I was simply too embarrassed to call an ambulance for constipation!

111 kindly arranged an out of hours GP appointment for me later that day at the hospital and I turned up expecting to be given a prescription for some laxatives and sent home. This was not to be. Initial observations showed a feverishly high temperature of 39.7oC and a tachycardic resting heart beat of 135bpm! I was swiftly admitted to the hospital and sent up to a ward to await further tests and information. Canular in, bloods taken, antibiotics given and huge amounts of IV fluid administered before being sent for a CT scan and told that I would be staying overnight.

And what a night it was! Suffice to say, after all of the fluid which had been pumped into me, I wasn’t constipated anymore! I have never experienced diarrhea like it. Everytime I moved even the slightest it came, and it was grim. Having not expected to be admitted to the hospital I had no change of clothes (or more importantly underwear!), and by Sunday morning I was sat in a pile of my own blood, sweat, tears and worse, feeling disgusting and utterly exhausted.

The doctor came round first thing and explained that I had a kidney stone which was causing a blockage resulting in an infection in my kidney and sepsis. I would need an operation later that day to place a drain in the kidney and would have to return as an outpatient to have the stone treated and the drain removed.

When I thought that at least things couldn’t get any worse, the nurse broke the news to me that as I was having ‘loose stools’ (an understatement if ever there was), and my fever and blood tests were indicative of infection, I was to be consigned to my room and no longer allowed to use the communal bathroom on the ward. She wheeled in the commode and I felt my heart sink. The rest of the day was spent wrestling with said commode and a selection of incontinence products none of which were designed to accommodate a person of my size. Every 5 – 10 minutes I would have to press the button to call for a nurse to come and collect the latest outputs and periodically change my bed sheets when I had been unable to make the 2 foot journey to the commode in time. Despite feeling more embarrassed and alone than I can ever remember, I couldn’t help but be in awe of each and every nurse and health care worker who came in to my room smiling and chatty and completely unphased by the clean up job required.

At 7pm I was wheeled down to theatre where I was met by a jolly anesthetist and her team who talked me through the next steps and checked for the 3rd time since I’d been admitted that I was not pregnant (an immaculate conception that would have been!). The next thing I knew I was waking up in the recovery room. Memory of the moments after coming round are vague but I know I was very confused, distressed and in pain. I am also pretty sure I wet myself in front of a room full of people as I hazily recall being moved around and cleaned up. Mortifying, but not apparently unusual following surgery on one’s bladder and kidney.

As I came round properly in the recovery room I was again struck by the incredible kindness, patience and professionalism of the people looking after me. I had soon struck up a lively conversation with a Polish nurse about the Brexit shitshow and European politics in general and was touched by his ability to look me in the eye and talk to me as an intelligent capable human being, when I knew, that not 30 minutes earlier, he had been cleaning up the mess I had made following the surgery.

I simply don’t know how these people do what they do. Long, antisocial hours, demanding patients, hard and unpleasant work, and all for a salary which has fallen in real terms every year since 2010. That they do it with a smile on their faces, a sense of humour and with unflinching tenderness, absolutely astounds me.

What was clear however, after spending 4 days in hospital, was, that despite the best efforts, grit and determination of all of the staff I encountered, the NHS is at breaking point. Snippets of conversations overheard revealed a serious lack of resources, wards closed and beds unavailable. Following my own surgery I ended up being kept on the recovery ward for four hours longer than necessary as my bed had been given away and a new one could not be found. Even once a bed had been allocated the wait was on for a porter to be free to come and move me. One of the recovery nurses even told me that they were now technically in breach because there were too many patients in the recovery bay for the number of available nurses.

It was simply heartbreaking to see the people caring for me making call after call to try and find me a bed all whilst carrying out their clinical duties and apologising to me profusely- as if they were somehow responsible for the lack of beds.

I ended up returning to hospital this week as a bout of cramping in my kidney again became unbearable. This time I went through A&E. I was given a trolly in A&E pretty quickly but as I needed to see a specialist urologist rather than an A&E doctor I waited ten and half hours before one became available to come and see me. More waiting for an X-ray and a bed, I was finally moved onto the urology ward at 03:30 in the morning.

I want it to be clear that this is not a criticism of the NHS or the incredible people who work so hard to keep it running. I am so grateful for the care that I received and can’t even begin to imagine having to confront a situation where being discharged from hospital might be followed by a huge pile of medical bills I would never be able to pay. My criticism is of a government that refuses to fund the NHS properly. A government that has denied some of the hardest working people in this country a pay rise for 7 years. A government that harps on about tightening our belts and cutting red tape whilst binging our most valuable national asset to its knees.

The NHS keeps on going. It does not turn people away and it does not charge for its services. As things get harder and harder for public sector workers I want to make it clear that their work does not go unnoticed and that we will keep fighting for a better deal for the people who are always there when we need them most.

My recent encounters however, have made me acutely aware of the fact that the NHS simply cannot keep on keeping on for much longer.  We cannot continue taking it for granted that more cuts can be made and that people will stay in thankless jobs that leave them knocking on the doors of foodbanks when their salary no longer covers the cost of living. We cannot hope to recruit a bright new generation of public sector workers to keep filling the gaps in care when an NHS job no longer offers security and a decent living.

nhsloveThe system is at breaking point. We are yet to see what Brexit will mean for NHS staff retention and recruitment. There are not enough beds. Not enough doctors and  nurses, and not enough support staff to keep the things ticking over indefinitely. I for one, do not want to be in need of urgent medical care when it finally collapses.

Manchester – an acquaintance I’d be proud to call a friend

Manchester, our hearts are breaking fMCRor you and our thoughts are with you as you try to make sense of the senseless and come to terms with what has happened in your city.

When I moved to Leeds a decade ago from the cozy but monocultural confines of rural Devon, I wasn’t sure if I’d ever be able to feel at home in a large Northern city. I was terrified for my life everytime I tried to cross the road and couldn’t sleep properly at night for the sounds of the city, living, thriving, partying and striving on my doorstep. Little by little though I fell in love with excitement that is city life and developed a deep affection for the friendliness of northerners. I found spaces where I felt more welcome and connected than I ever did in village back home, and in a place that once seemed too large to be close-knit, I discovered the meaning of community in a way that I had never envisaged possible before. I lived and breathed in vibrant, diverse spaces, ate a ‘proper’ curry for the first time and learnt that one does not have to pay through the nose for safron if you know where to shop! I revelled in interesting conversations with strangers at bus stops, talked politics and family with taxi drivers and slowly began to feel comforted by the ever present pulse of my city. Continue reading

Thoughts on the Manifesto – a list of the good stuff!

“We will measure our economic success not by the number of billionaires, but by the ability of our people to live richer lives.” Labour Manifesto 2017

I was planning to write a long blog post reviewing and analysisng the 2017 Labour Party Manifesto when it came out earlier this week. I sat down with a coffee ready to start picking it apart and making notes but all I really got was a long list of really awesome, well thought out and properly costed policies that don’t really require any further explanation. I’m disappointed that theres no mention of freedom of movement following Brexit and that the commitment to Trident renewal remains, despite even Jeremy’s longstanding objection to it. However, below equates to a very basic overview of some of the really good stuff that’s in the manifesto and I can’t recommend enough that you give it a read for yourselves and think long and hard about the real differences we could make to people’s lives when we cast our votes on 08/06/17.  We now have real answers to the problems which are plaguing people’s lives, dehumanising, humiliating, disenfranchising and curtailing all of us. We have the opportunity to vote for a government that is forward looking, progressive and rooted in progress, fulfillment and fairness for all – the many not just the few.

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Not a Foregone Conclusion- Coming Clean a Supervisor Meeting

I’ve been in a PhD funk for a while now. I had thought it was an inevitable symptom of my ongoing mental health problems re-surfacing, but the more I thought about my thesis the more uninspired I felt. Having been working on this PhD since 2011 (and with an expected completion date of 2020), I was beginning to feel as though the moment of my research had passed me by. Talking about Raunch Culture and hypersexualisation seems so passé, as though the conversation has moved on and the paradigm shifted. Already my own opinions on the matter have changed drastically. From being naively critical of lapdancing clubs and pole fitness classes I have reached a stage where I view the whole field of my research in a more nuanced (and thankfully more sex positive) way. My criticism now is not with any particular depiction of ‘sexy’ (or the people in those depictions) but on how few variations are present in those depictions. Continue reading

Seeing Green, Voting Red and coping with activist envy.

freedom-2218616_1920I want, and have always wanted to change the world. It’s a bold statement and one that as I get older makes me feel increasingly embarrassed and naive to say out loud. Somehow as we age we become less ambitious in our goals; I have inevitably become more aware with age, of the complex dynamics of change, the barriers, the costs, the obstacles and hurdles. Subsequently, more often than not I find myself adding the quantifier ‘I want to change the world…in some small way.’

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Guardians of the Galaxy vol.2 IS big but it’s not clever and that’s ok!

Yes, it’s another Marvel superhero movie and, and yes, it’s a sequel, but I have to admit to being quite excited to see the latest Guardians of the Galaxy instalment as it hit the big screens this month.

There’s something about it’s oddball mix of superhero caricatures that I find really endearing. With  walking deadpan Drax, fierce badass Gamora, funky as f@!k Quill and robo-raccoon (*sorry I mean ‘trash panda’) Rocket, not to mention the simply adorable Groot, there are laughs to be had from the get go and even long into the extensive extras ‘hidden’ in the credits.

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Dear PhD…

8922368-256400255_2-s4-v1CN: Mental health issues, anxiety, depression, bi-polar, BPD

…It’s been a while since we last spoke and I’m not really sure what has been going on between us lately. I feel as though we’re not as close as we used to be and that maybe after all these years together we’ve started taking each other for granted. I always assumed you’d be there offering new and exciting challenges and you thought that you could rely on me to give you the commitment we both know that you deserve.

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