Sunday, 24 January 2010

Star systems and the amazing Israeli response to the Haiti disaster

It's kinda nice that little has been happening here. Well, that's a bit of a lie but I don't want to expand at the moment. Suffice to say that we have a good semblence of sanity and health. Let's not analyse it too much. Taking things on a daily basis then there's sufficient improvement to inaugerate a star system. I remember the gold and silver ones from primary school. I loved green. Red and yellow were good too. So here it is: all the colours, apart from black and brown, are good. The starry ones the best. I think that we are at a green. Should red be pointing in another direction? I'll have to consider that.

My mind has been on the terrible events in Haiti. What a poor downtrodden country. It's just amazing though that whenever the cameras are on the Haitians, even the ones without anywhere at all to live and no clothing that they can call their own, that they all look so sparkly clean and pressed. How do they do it? It's the same in India. Among the squalor and filth the women are beautiful. Their saris, folded and brightly coloured, do not appear to be hiding dirt or despair. Why is it that only in the west do the street people and the poverty stricken shout their condition?

I'm so delighted that the Israeli response to the Haiti disaster was so fantastic. Who else had the presence of mind to bring a fully operational field hospital that contained, among myriad other medical aid, imaging, x-ray and paediatric care? A functioning neo-natal unit and a telecommunications centre? Yet, by reading comments on various boards, you would be seething at the resentment by the Israel-bashers that Israelis could do such good deeds. Suffice to say that the positive comments outweighed the negative ones. The major aid organisations that search for survivors are leaving. The Israelis are staying there, so hopefully they will, against all odds, find others beneath the rubble and stench.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Library loans, cancer, mental illness and the long-awaited medication compliance

It's raining. I never thought that I would be pleased to see rain. I'll hate it by this afternoon but at least it's melting the vestigages of the snow and ice. I don't have to take a stick to aid my progression along the filthy streets and I can wear boots that I can walk in. Finally. I hope it lasts. This morning we walked for an hour and I didn't slip once! We are supposed to hit the giddy heights of 9C on Sunday and sun. Ok. It's not the Dead Sea in January - all blazing heat and azure skies - but it's not the arctic.

I received a print out from the Public Lending Right this week. It tells me how many times my book has been borrowed from national libraries and how much I have made from this. I think it's done pretty well. From July 2008 to June 2009, its first year of publication, it was loaned a total of 2,212 times. That means that, added to the sales, it's been read over 7,000 times! Not too bad, considering. It hasn't overtaken James Frey but, then, he's been proven to be a liar. Fiction masquerading as fact in a 'memoir.'

Yesterday I was back in my role as volunteer in Oncology at the local hospital. Counselling patients with cancer makes me reconsider mental health problems. I still don't know what is 'better' or 'worse' and it was something that a colleague and I discussed during a quiet period. If you have a physical illness you will, at least, do everything possible in order to seek a cure or alleviate its symptoms. The very diagnosis of a mental health condition invariably means that you are not of sound mind sufficiently (in many instances) and you will deny yourself adequate intervention and help.

Zach opined that he never again wants to avoid taking medication. To repeat the hell that he went though in Ladakh and Delhi last year is the last thing on his mind. Previously, he told me, other 'episodes' at least had their memorable parts. There is nothing that he has positively from India's breakdown. He cringes when he thinks of it and finds it painful to the extreme. So something positive came out of it. It's only taken thirteen years. Let's hope it continues. I won't hold my breath.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

HEALTH AND SAFETY IS AN OXYMORON (and so are the morons who came up with it)

So, so fed up. Fed up with looking at the white stuff. It's nice if you can stay inside and don't have to live. To go anywhere. To have to walk, run, drive anywhere. Food we have but I've ordered dog food and the poor dog has about another day's worth but I can't go anywhere in the car today because it snowed again last night. And, as predictable as day following night, the roads around here are impassable.

Walking the dog (a much abridged version) this morning, I saw a Mini simply sliding its way down towards the main road, its wheels locked, it's driver staring straight ahead in terror. Why he had even wanted to take his box on wheels to these roads on a day like this was anyone's guess. He hadn't even cleared the snow from the roof or the bonnet. Other pedestrians were watching him too. Further up the road another boy-racer sped along, spraying snow and dead grit, until he, too, found himself at the brow of the hill, thumped on his brakes and carouselled into the side of a parked BMW. We looked at each other in disbelief, we of the two legged kind, and continued along our way. It was treacherous.

Zach calls me each day and we lament the weather. He's had some kind of gastric flu and has been throwing up copiously every night. He's worried that it's affected his meds. He's cold all the time and hungry too because he's now scared to eat in case it all ends up either on his floor or the loo. The Winter Vomiting Bug appears to be the one that's closing down wards. That and fractures. I'd hate to think what hospital A&E departments are like this week. Grit has been reduced by 50% and we are, according to news reports, running periously close on empty for that and salt. None of the pavements are safe. Either they've semi-melted and are mini ice rinks or slimy, slidely slush. Either way it's likely that I'll end belly up yet again.

The gardener in the house that backs onto our garden has, in his great intelligence, decided to light a huge fire with wet branches and leaves and the smoke has gathered in huge clouds that have descended into each and every window and crack in the brickwork here. My apartment smells like the aftermath of a damp conflagration. I went out to him and berated him for doing so. His answer: 'Sorry, can't hear you.' So much for neighbourly good feelings. I think that a phone call to the very nice Italians is in order.

And once more the waiting for EDF Energy, the 'Sustainability Partner', to turn up and relocate the effing meter. All morning Monday. I called today to complain yet again. 'Oh, Mrs. Morris. You were left a message in November. The appointment was cancelled. It's now for the 9th February.' Of course no message was left. Just another sodding runaround from them. They're all so nice on the phone. Health and effing Safety again. No other reason not to have the meter where it's been situated since the block was last renovated. Years ago. You see it's dangerous for someone to top up their meter in the dark. When I made the point that there's a light switch in the room where all the meters are situated and that most everyone knows how light switches work, the nice gentleman to whom I was speaking said, yes that's right but Health and Safety has tied their hands.


Friday, 8 January 2010

Snow, fractures, the NHS and Bill Oddie

Hairline fracture of a bone in my wrist. Therefore somewhat difficult to type! Sorry. Two falls in one day and the second one did it. We have so much snow and ice and nothing has been cleared. There's piles of snow and grit and sand but it's all lethal and we don't have the infrastructure here to deal with it.

I spent two hours at the local NHS hospital but was favourably impresssed. Pre-triage and then ten minutes to register and then straight to X-ray. Fifteen minutes and then they were done. Another hour to wait and an extremely nice registrar. What a difference...

But I have a caste on my wrist and it's so hard...

An interesting week with Zach. He's been staying here. Yet another chapter. To be discussed...

By the way: Bill Oddie. Now telling everyone how he's come through his depression. I'm delighted for him. Would have been nice if he had said thanks.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

New Year: New changes. Will it be any better?

Gosh it's cold here. In October we were informed by the Met Office that we were going to have a 'mild winter.' On a par with their 'barbeque' summer that didn't arrive, I don't think that they do their job very well, do they? And they're telling us that by 2050 we'll have 'scorching summers'. Blah blah blah...

So this morning we skated our way around the Heath and the dog avoided the really icy bits too but he has four legs and a lower centre of gravity and there's not too much to worry about him toppling over. I only saw three people almost come a cropper this week on one particular and famous piece of glass. You'd think that the powers-that-be who work for the Heath would've done something about this. But, of course not. I remember when I last asked these gentlemen about doing something to alleviate the possibility of broken bones. 'If we grit one path,' one of them said. 'Then we'd have to grit them all...' Makes one open-mouthed in awe, doesn't it!

Lots of articles about poor Mr. Shaikh. One thing in agreement: Why was it that the Chinese authorities wouldn't allow him to see a psychiatrist? Was it because the Chinese actually wanted to execute a Westerner simply to show that no one's gonna mess with them? Well, it seemed to have worked. Who's going to boycott China?

So tomorrow it's back to normal. We have a new year and a new decade. I wonder whether it will be any better than the last. Will there be new medications discovered that work better for people with mental illnesses? Will there be more money injected into the system here for better care in the NHS for those who are vulnerable? Will there be a different attitude shown towards drug addiction and mental illness? I think it's highly unlikely that anything will change. One can but hope.