urocyon: Grey fox crossing a stream (Default)
One that actually has a lot to do with why I haven't been keeping up very well here (or much of anywhere else) lately:

Yep, I’m disabled. Pfft.

There's a bit of a backlog, but the last couple were also disability-related:

Forgetting to eat, and food insecurity

Early update: Forgetting to eat, and food insecurity

That kind of sneaked up on me again. But, not too surprisingly, a number of the brainfoggy things seem to be improving a bit after just a little while of making sure to eat regularly. *facepalm*
urocyon: Grey fox crossing a stream (Default)
Native models, exoticism, and (in)visibility (maybe NSFW)

Rather extensive linky fun: Nymwars

Feeling kind of bad about continuing to just post links here, while having trouble actually commenting on other people's posts or writing the kind of stuff I've been using Dreamwidth for. :-| Not disinterested, just brainfoggy.
urocyon: Grey fox crossing a stream (Default)
Crosspost – Lost in Translation: The 50 Americanisms That Annoy Brits Most

With some linguistic/dialect musings, for those who are interested in that sort of geekery.
urocyon: Grey fox crossing a stream (Default)
Video: “These warrior bones ache for revolution…”

I was going to post this video (from Tamar-Kali at the 2008 Afro-Punk Festival) without comment, but when have I ever been able to do that? ;)
urocyon: Grey fox crossing a stream (Default)
Oh yeah. I haven't dropped off the face of the earth, but a lot of all kinds of energy seems to have been going into recovering from the longterm D deficiency. (Now that I know what the symptoms are for me, it looks like this has been a problem to varying degrees for at least 15 years. Ever since I got put on meds that made me photosensitive and prone to overheating in the sun, surprise! :-|) On the plus side, the musculoskeletal pain is continuing to improve *crosses fingers*, to the point that plain aspirin is enough most of the time (if just barely). Most of the pain is from bones, not constantly spasmy electrolyte-deprived muscles now. I've yet to have a pain-free day, but it's looking possible again. OTOH, if anything the brain fog has been temporarily worse lately, and has really been getting in the way of replying after reading stuff. Reading/writing/working with language in general, actually; the first thing that usually goes for me.

But, given all the things vitamin D does in the body (since it's really a steroid hormone, not a vitamin) and the amount of bone remineralization that must be going on--since the osteomalacia got to the point of the pelvic fracture from a dog kick and my shinbones are not straight anymore--that side of things probably needs the lion's share of resources right now. So I'm trying not to worry about it too much.

Click through for a bigger version that's actually readable. I am not up to describing that image right now, sorry. (Was glad to find out that having trouble with that anyway is a common autistic thing.) And the hell of it is, that's far from a complete list, presumably for space considerations.

A lot of time and energy have also been going into doing things I just couldn't reasonably do before, like (patio) gardening and trying to get this house cleaned up. Which has been very nice in a way, especially since finding out there's been a "legitimate" named problem has kinda given me permission not to run myself into the ground so much. *shakes head* I still get worn out very easily, but it's so nice to be able to do this stuff in the first place! So, I haven't been online much at all lately.

Basically, I'm to the point that I'm feeling stronger and healthier enough to be able to appreciate (and keep getting shocked at) just how weak and unhealthy I'd gradually gotten. While I don't expect instant total improvement after the length of time this crap has been going on, with any luck the energy levels will even out a bit soon!
urocyon: Grey fox crossing a stream (Default)
The boiler repair guy came and went by about 10. [personal profile] vatine kindly stayed home to deal with him, and I managed to sleep through the whole thing. (Besides the social awkwardness thing, after getting one really skeezy-acting meter reader I'm still pretty sure didn't attack me because I was bigger than he was--and still kept sizing me up--I do not like to let strangers into the house while I'm home alone.)

You may have hard water when it takes two or three years for your boiler to get limed up to the point of cascading failure. Yep, we had to replace it not too long ago, and it's again to the point of "as much to fix it as replace it". (To the tune of about £2000, IIRC.) They didn't suggest any regular maintenance on the current one, but maybe some kind of preventative care will help the next one live longer. One drawback to the otherwise pretty cool and space-efficient combi boiler approach: it's complicated, with very little that is user serviceable. And you're not supposed to open them up and poke around without being Gas Safe certified. I was hoping there was some kind of minor flushing we could do or something to get some of the limescale out, but apparently not.

Ah well. It could be worse. It's June, the shower heats water (besides the dishwasher and washing machine), and we've got a space heater just in case.

And I'm reminded of this one: 50% of Americans Couldn’t Come Up with $2,000 in an Emergency (and I was surprised it wasn't more). Ghost poverty had me automatically half-panicking and hoping we'd be able to get heat and hot water back before winter, but, yeah, that's not a major problem now. As much as I still near-literally nickel-and-dime myself to death, even with me unable to work now, we're apparently in the top 20% of UK incomes.* (Which says a lot about inequality, actually.)

We're also on the second replacement washing machine in a few years. Even with regularly using sodium carbonate in the wash and running empty hot loads with lots of vinegar or citric acid, they've gotten crudded up with lime internally. But, you boil a pot of water and get lime scum on the top and a ring around the pot. I grew up on limestone karst, where there used to be a lot of mineral spring resorts, and never saw anything like the liquid chalk you get in London. I guess the softer stone makes a huge difference in ready solubility.

* This really struck me when we knew we needed at least an £800 boiler system flushing (no, insufficient after all!)--and Ingvar suggested going out and looking at Xooms. (ETA: And he's hardly prone to wild spending sprees. /ETA) I think my jaw was honestly hanging open for a minute there. I mean, I knew we weren't poor, but I'd been cutting back on food expenses and putting off buying things like a new pair of £50 walking sandals and a couple of shirts. Different assumptions and expectations based on experience, indeed. :-|
urocyon: Grey fox crossing a stream (Default)
One I had intended to post here, until it ran really long:

Food, disability, and responsibility
urocyon: Grey fox crossing a stream (Default)
I just wanted to say that I'm really, really glad I tried milkandmore.co.uk. I'd been operating on a per-order basis to try them out, but went ahead and set up regular milk deliveries today. (May add things like cat food later.)

It's really cool to still be able to get milk delivered in reusable glass bottles. (I don't use much other than in cooking, with highish-threshold lactose intolerance, but soy milk just doesn't taste right in coffee. And black coffee is nasty to me.) Even cooler to get unhomogenized organic stuff fairly cheaply.

The milkman may or may not be thrilled about their having added a lot of basic groceries and even bags of potting soil to the selection available, but it's already come in very handy for me. Competitive prices, with no added delivery charges. And you can add items up to 9:00 the night before, if you suddenly realize you're out of wet cat food or something.

One of the best parts for the socially awkward? They just leave the booty on the doorstep, or wherever else you request. Nocturnal as I've been lately, I'm usually still up when they come around, but most people aren't even awake around 5 am. (I've been leaving a cool bag for the chilled stuff anyway.) Win-win all around.

Yay for people who will bring me stuff. ;)
urocyon: Grey fox crossing a stream (Default)
Feeling kind of silly.

I've been regretting not being physically up to walking Max and taking him to the park lately. He hasn't been getting many walks at all during the week, since Ingvar is usually pretty worn out by the time he gets home. I got to thinking (worrying, more like) about it more, since work will be sending him to the US for several weeks soon.

Then it occurred to me that I've been a muppet. There are lots of people eager to walk dogs for £10/hr. or so. I've done it myself, and am hoping to get a pet care business up and running again once my health improves enough. And, yes, I'd consider this a reasonable and fairly cheap accommodation for anyone else.

We'd already discussed maybe getting somebody in to help clean a couple of times a month or so, in a very similar vein. Neither one of us is great at tidiness, besides my pain and fatigue issues. We're actually pretty economically privileged in the scheme of things, and won't starve if we pay somebody to help clean on that kind of schedule. But, yeah, I've also put off looking into that, feeling like I "should" be able to do it myself.

Still, it hadn't even occurred to me that we could get someone to help walk Max.

Ah, disability shame and lingering ghost poverty! *facepalm*
urocyon: Grey fox crossing a stream (Default)
These are all shorter ones, carried over from Tumblr because the subject matter fit.

Disability and gaslighting

Driven to distraction


Not being great at coming up with catchy titles to begin with, this ability decreases as the night wears on. ;)
urocyon: Grey fox crossing a stream (Default)
As mentioned in the last post, our local hospital has a really bad A&E/ER department. In 2009:
Barking, Havering and Redbridge Hospitals NHS Trust’s Accident & Emergency departments were ranked 150/151 in the country on pain relief, 151/151 for health care standards, 151/151 on general patient satisfaction.

AFAICT, our local one and King George in Ilford are both big problems. I've been in the local one's A&E twice--with a horrible migraine and the autokneecapping incident from the last post--and all I can say is that at least they were not overtly rude on the migraine trip, and gave me some (inadequate) pain relief. (A small dose of OTC-strength Co-codamol, when I told them I'd already taken the equivalent and it didn't help.) The physical plant is only a few years old now, and it already looks grotty and run-down. It honestly looked as bad as what I saw of the previous Victorian premises. I didn't want to touch any surfaces I didn't have to, which kinda added to the anxiety.

OTOH, to be fair, my four trips to the Urgent Care there have been OK other than not wanting to touch anything in the waiting rooms. Two for bronchitis/asthma flares, one when my back was locked in spasm, and another for a nasty allergic reaction. They didn't give me anything other than an NSAID and advice not to lift and carry heavy stuff for the back, though; bit of a pattern there.

These items have turned up recently in the news:

Mother and unborn baby die after hospital staff ignore husband's pleas (Added racism making them less willing to listen, perhaps? As a "weird-acting" foreigner, I suspect I got worse treatment. Definitely more condescension.)

Romford's Queen's Hospital suspends midwives over death:
The care given to Ms Ali "was of an unacceptable standard" and liability "will not be disputed", Mrs Dongworth added.

Earlier this month the Care Quality Commission described the maternity unit at Queen's as frequently understaffed, with patients put at risk from broken or missing equipment.

Hospital where mother and baby died is given just days to improve:
Mrs Ali's husband Usman Javed, 29, said his wife was in "unbearable pain" after being induced at 40 weeks, but his pleas for help were ignored by midwives. Mrs Ali had suffered a ruptured womb and died five days later.
The Care Quality Commission this month found that the unit was often understaffed and employees were carrying out tasks for which they did not feel appropriately skilled. Inspectors also found that the hospital was failing to follow guidelines on safe care, such as timescales for transferring women from the antenatal ward to the labour ward. The commission, which has been monitoring the hospital since the warning, says these improvements need to be made by Wednesday.
It is feared the problems at Queen's will get worse if the maternity and A&E departments at King George Hospital in Ilford go ahead as planned.
Steven Kelly, cabinet member for social services and health at Havering council, said: "If things continue as they are you could not close King George and take the extra load to Queen's."

Yes, they have been wanting to do this with budget cuts, as overcrowded as Queens Hospital already is. And send people to what AFAICT are the worst units there. (Not that they seem to be much better at King George...)

REDBRIDGE: Reprieve for hospital wards:
CONDEMNED emergency and maternity wards serving the borough could be granted a reprieve.

The wards at King George Hospital, Ilford, are set to close after health bosses decided to send patients elsewhere, but campaigners claim the consultation on the plans was flawed and that most GPs were against the decision...

Health for North East London wants to send patients to A&E and maternity wards at Whipps Cross Hospital in Leytonstone and Queen's in Romford, where it plans to expand maternity services, instead of King George.

Reported last week: More patients at risk from CJD after surgery:
Two separate incidents have emerged in which patients have been told they were put at risk of contracting Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD).

In both cases the fatal brain-wasting disease could have been picked up during surgery.

At Queen's Hospital in Romford in Essex, 21 brain surgery patients have received letters...

The other incident was at a hospital in Wales. In this case, Public Health Wales is not revealing the name of the hospital, nor the type of surgery involved.

Sterilise instruments
In both situations, the hospitals say they followed normal practices to clean, disinfect and sterilise the surgical instruments involved.

One of the UK's leading experts on prion diseases, Professor John Collinge, said such incidents are not uncommon.

He said the risk to patients from contaminated surgical instruments was believed to be small but is not yet quantified. He thought more could be done to stop this happening at all.

His team has developed an effective prion deactivation soak, a bit like a biological washing powder, and even has a commercial partner, but the substance is not being used in hospitals.

In the recent past, they have had problems with basic hygiene:

Infection control warning to NHS
The new health super regulator has warned that a small group of NHS trusts are potentially putting patients at risk because of poor infection control.

Twenty-one trusts have been highlighted in England by the Care Quality Commission for not doing enough on cleanliness and decontamination...

The 21 trusts are: Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health, Barts and the London, Leeds Teaching Hospitals, Kettering General, North Bristol, Plymouth Hospitals, South West London and St George's Mental Health, United Lincolnshire Hospitals, Alder Hey, Barking, Havering and Redbridge, Coventry and Warwickshire, Herefordshire PCT, Isle of Wight, Leeds Partnerships Mental Health, Lewisham PCT, Manchester PCT, Medway, Royal Surrey, Somerset PCT, West Sussex PCT, Yorkshire Ambulance.

From the same 2009 report: REDBRIDGE: Hospital trust's infection control not up to scratch:
Barking, Havering and Redbridge Hospitals Trust (BHRT) is one of 21 bodies that have been identified by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) as not meeting expectations in dealing with infections including C.diff and MRSA.

The trust itself has admitted that it did not meet the appropriatate standards for healthcare associated infections (HCAI).

Rates had apparently fallen by that point, but 2004-2006 Barking, Havering and Redbridge Hospitals had some severe problems with C. difficile infections in particular (figures only reported for patients 65 and over). Summarized from another source:
Meanwhile, the Times Public Agenda reports that figures released by the Health Protection Agency have revealed that more than 13,000 London patients have been infected by the Clostridium difficile superbug in the past two years. Barking, Havering and Redbridge Hospitals Trust has the worst infection record.

And they were still getting caught violating and ignoring safety procedures in 2009.

A story from just a couple of months ago: Hospital failed woman who died after contracting two superbugs:
A hospital has been found guilty of failings in the care of a woman who died after contracting superbugs while in intensive care.

Doreen Levey's condition quickly deteriorated after she was admitted with a cough and diarrhoea to Queen's Hospital in Romford. She was later diagnosed with MRSA and Clostridium difficile and died shortly after.

The hospital, which has been locked in a dispute with the family of the 68-year-old for four years, has now been reprimanded for failing to address serious complaints they raised. The verdict comes just days after the Essex hospital was accused of poor standards of care over the deaths of two other patients. Lili Backhouse, who was 23 months old, from Rainham, died after doctors allegedly failed to spot that she had meningitis...

Mrs Levey's daughter, Pauline, said: "The overall treatment that my mother received was unspeakably poor. Queen's was a new, state-of-the-art hospital.

"Superficially it may have looked impressive, but underneath the shiny new exterior lay a poorly managed organisation with some staff that were not only incompetent but were incapable of following basic hygiene codes, standard operating procedures and Control of Substances Hazardous to Health regulations."

Ms Levey, 44, a biomedical scientist from Swanley in Kent who has worked for the National Health Service for 22 years, added: "The undignified, uncaring treatment that I witnessed has left a feeling of distrust, disgust and horror."

She said her concerns over the state of the hospital heightened when she saw what she believed to be various hygiene lapses and disciplinary offences when she returned to discuss her mother's case.

Then, when she visited her father at Queen's in December, she claims she saw someone else's bloodstains on the walls around him.

I honestly have no trouble believing that, just from what I have seen. Including the "undignified, uncaring treatment".

They have also gotten attention for very poor financial management (REDBRIDGE Hospital trust named worst in London for financial performance), with more of the same from earlier this year:
The Audit Commission has raised alarm over the financial state of Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust over its failure to fulfil its statutory financial duty.

The trust, one of the worst-performing NHS trusts in England, prompted an auditor to issue a public interest report over fears that the trust is still failing despite efforts to improve.

It said the trust had failed to achieve culmulative break even over the five years to March 2010 and criticised a continuing culture that didn't recognise "the importance of financial management."...

Speaking on his move last week, Goulston said the hospital had "made great progress on improving quality, recruiting skilled staff and working more efficiently."

I guess that's why they're still so short on skilled staff, then: all that great progress. At least, as reported 2 days ago, after the recent high-profile death, REDBRIDGE: Trust forced to hire nurses from overseas:
Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust has hired 43 nurses from Portugal and Ireland to staff A&E and medical assessment wards at King George Hospital, Ilford, and Queen’s Hospital, Romford.

It looks like they need more than that for two large, seriously understaffed hospitals.

Now, I know this is a large urban teaching hospital (more like inner suburbs, actually, but...). I have been in two different similar type hospitals before as a patient. The patient care and atmosphere may have left something to be desired--in a "you'd better have a family member or friend to bring you drinks and run off the med students from pulling at your drain tubes like curious monkeys" kind of way--but things looked clean. And I only saw one nurse (At MCV, now officially VCU Medical Center) ignore basic hygiene practices in patient care, in the Neurosciences ICU by coincidence. She didn't expect patients to be conscious, and didn't bother changing gloves between touching them--and just ignored me when I asked her to do so. But she was the exception. Being a large teaching hospital, they're going to end up with more hospital-contracted infections, but both MCV and Wake Forest's hospital seemed to be doing OK with basic procedures to prevent that.

Then, I have also spent time in a mid-sized VA hospital as a visitor when my stepdad was in there for months after a serious car crash. It was pretty bad, though they do seem to have improved since then. They ignored it when he got extremely jaundiced until my mother got after them, he got neglected bedsores, and my mother had to keep getting after them to change the bedlinens. Things looked grotty and run down there, too.

ETA: They also both work on similar inefficient models. You need to have blood drawn. They won't do that in the doctor's office. You have to go to the hospital. So, you go to Point A and pick up Form X, which you then take to Point B on the other side of the hospital to get Form Y, then back across the hospital complex to take a number and wait for 3 hours (no exaggeration, with my last bloodwork). You'd better hope you didn't leave either form somewhere--or that the folks at Point B didn't insist on taking Form A from you before they'd hand you Form B--because you're going to need them both once your number comes up. If they've taken Form A, you'll have to try to find someone who will reissue a copy of it (good luck!) because the person who took the original from you has already lost, eaten, or shredded it. If you have to start over, the phlebotomy techs are going to close up shop before your number comes up another 3 hours later. Oh yeah, and you'd better hope somebody's with you to warn you your number is up in case you need to go to the bathroom after waiting 2.95 hours. And all that's just for getting blood drawn. When things are running relatively smoothly. *headdesk*/ETA

Yes, I'm seeing a theme emerging here: poorly managed large government-run organizations. And, no, I am not suggesting that privatizing is is the way to go at all. But cutting more funding while continuing to run things inefficiently sure as hell isn't going to give you decent results. It's going to harm people.

September 2011

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