Philosophy of The Big Society

David Cameron gets to be God!

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Update before I sedate myself into oblivion for the night

Woke up.....felt yakky yak yak.

Due to STR Worker not feeling well herself, swimming was cancelled. Wasn't too hung up about that but there needs to be a mutual understanding that just like STR Worker can't predict when she will get sick...I can't predict what days are going to be my more stable days. Ah well. Knickers to that right now.

Mostly slumped until 4.30 pm ish. I wanted to go back to sleep but couldn't and didn't have energy(or motivation) to do much else...but come 4.30, something kicked in. Got ants in my pants and needed to walk.

So I walked to town...then on to GP's to pick up prescription for wafer thingies.... then on to friend's (who lives round the corner from the practice) for a cuppa.

Was little bit pooped so taxi'd from there to hospital. I know I hadn't planned to see Dad today but I went with the flow.

He was in much weirder place. Although he doesn't do the pacing thing that I do when I am highly anxious, his face was gurning something awful, his legs were going and he kept putting his head in his hands.

The reason is, I think, that the doctor who saw him today told him he was being discharged tomorrow. Now, I don't know how much of what Dad says is the truth. It might be the truth as he perceives it...but I like to get the opinion of a staff member (and one that actually knows what is going on). That proved rather difficult.

At one point, there was not a nurse to be found. Having walked length of ward, a kindly visitor asked me if I was lost. I explained I was trying to find a member of the nursing staff and she pointed me to a side room. I waited there for 10 minutes. Nurse explained that she didn't know anything about my father's situation...she went and looked at a sheet of paper and said..."I don't know what is happening but it says he is scheduled for a psychiatric assessement". She advised me to ring up in the morning and speak to the Discharge Co-ordinator. Can't wait!!! You know how much I love talking to different people, all of whom have a different view of what is going on.

Dad got more ajji, so I asked if he was taking any medication. He said that he was told he couldn't have any but felt he needed a off I trot again and found another nurse who said "You have already spoken to another nurse".

Right so rellies are rationed to one question per visit.

I explained this was a different matter. After I was assured he could have medication, I informed her of Dad's state and asked her if she could organise for him to have his sedation. I also explained that I bought his medication in with him and so it wasn't anything he hadn't been prescribed. She said she would do that....but she still hadn't done it by the time I left. Now I understand the NHS is under pressure (I would say crumbling on it's foundation...status) but I also understand that high levels of anxiety do not go away just because staff are stretched.

Really hospitals are not places to be when you are ill, these days. Then again, isn't like there are that many options!!!

Final summarising of the visit:

There was, I spotted, a Hospital Policy poster on the wall. Quoting such gems as

"All staff will be approachable, friendly and responsive to patients, relatives, carers and other visitors"


"Open communication between all staff, patients, relatives etc etc, shall take place.

If I had a marker pen to hand, I would have added

"The left hand needs to keep the right hand clued up on what it is doing...and the deck should have hands on it at all times"

Monday, 27 July 2009

A trip to the zoo and much needed uppy time

Apologies to anyone who thinks I should be constantly fighting my Dad's corner and writing blogs with solemn references but am trying to keep my sanity and balance best as and by taking each day as it comes.

Today was a goodie but before I explain why, want to share a couple of photos, from the last visit. The one in which Azzizah and Euan were playing together.

As I wrote before, was uplifting to see them so happy together:

Was lovely to spend today with Em and her fella and share the wonderful experiences. First of all we went to Lemar Island. Is one of the few areas where the public can get next to animals. Thankfully, there are staff constantly on watch. I say that because although most people go to appreciate the animals and conservation work, there are those who would do damage (intentionally or otherwise). I got to sit next to a Lemar. For me that was awesome. It was totally non-plussed by the affair. Literally, the Lemars were mingling with us humans and comfortably so (maybe hoping for snacks....but such things are rightly out of bounds).

Next stop was my favourite place (no prizes for guessing where)...and total thrill to see a new elephant cub. Yet unamed at 4 days old. He is being closely monitored by his mum and aunt and slept mostly while we watched on, in awe. He did manage a few steps, after his mum had gone for a bit of a walk and aunt was, I think, concerned he needed to be with her. Once reassured by some trunk touching he flopped back down for more sleep (typical baby eh? Not the trunk touching but the sleep :>)

After that, and being totally bouyed up, we went to find the rhinos, then the sloth bears and feeling peckish got the zoo bus to the cafe at the other end of the zoo so we could see the penquins who are camped next door. Before we knew it, we were running late. We had intended to get to Dad by 2.30 but time just flew by.

We weren't too late and arrived at the hospital just after 3.

Not sure what to write about Dad. He seems distant alot of the time. Like he usually is. He did join in as much as his state could allow and we said we would all go to the zoo when he was better. He would like to go, if health permits. I said it was an obligatory family outing (half jokey) as in at least once a year we should all do the zoo. There is a thin line between encouraging and bullying. Trying to keep the right side of that whilst giving him things to hang on to.

I spoke to the doctor about his condition. She explained that his liver seems to be recovering. The norm is 30. 30 what? I am not sure about. Dad's level is now 600, although it was over 1,000 last week. That's paracetamol for you. Fekkin' horrible tablets to OD on but that was most probably last thing on Dad's mind when he took them. Well, the having to deal with after effects!!!!

Not sure on how long Dad's stay in hospital is going to be. Would assume it depends how quickly that level comes down, and if it does continue to come down. The doctor was optimistic..that it would come down more but said it could take anything from a week to a month. Can't remember for sure but think the next lot of blood tests are due Wednesday. If I think too much about this is very scary. So am trying to be ..not sure what the word is..but I am trying to keep my focus on the facts rather than the possibilities.

Before we left hospital, we stocked Dad up on drinks. He has quite a thirst but can't bare drinking water. Will try and get to hospital again tomorrow but that depends on how knackered I am after the first 'recovery' swim. I am not sure if I am supposed to be meeting my STR worker at the pool or if she is coming to me. So much for the CP5 thingy...well the planning aspect of it. Best ring her in the morning...can't leave these things to fate or other people. Not when it is me that is going to be putting in the most effort.

Now, I am going to chill out for the evening. Run a bath. Have a long soak and hopefully zonk out because have naturally used up my energy.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Serious Untoward Incidents - The Case of the Missing Criteria

For PatientGuard and anyone else who has a clue in regards to working through the mazes.

I have formally notified the Trust and my MP that I wish my Dad's suicide attempt to be treated as a 'Serious Untoward Incident'.

Am very keen to find out what the Care Quality Commission's rules are in regards to how they ensure Trusts are not shirking any more responsibilities.

I usually get a formal written response from MP within a few days of writing to him. However, he might be on annual leave now so can't guarantee I will hear from him before I go to Derbyshire.

Not sure where to go with this right now. I could let the Director complete his internal inquiry (before I take further action) but have concerns it is being used more as a passifier rather than to look at oversights (and there were oversights) and prevent alarm bells ringing in ears of overseeing bodies. Remember, Beds and Luton Partnership Trust is still waiting to be taken over by a bigger cheese in order to be seen as fit for purpose and gain Foundation Trust status. Hence, those in charge are trying to turn it into a leaner machine whilst talking some sort of talk that is supposed to reassure patients they are in safe hands. Hmmmmm...

Any advice would be welcomed but that doesn't mean I will act on it until I am back from my break. I need time out...FOR ME. Sounds harsh but I have only so much energy and savvy at present. If I burn out, there will be nothing left either to sustain myself with or help Dad.

Sometimes a chore can turn out to be a benefit

So writes the woman who has not long mowed her back lawn.

I loathe the thought of doing it (every time). It is hard work (particulary for someone who hasn't treated her body like a shrine) but not only that, it can aggrevate my dry discs (which are not due to any damage I have bought upon myself other than existing).

Is a long lawn to boot. So is not a case of whipping out the mower and 15 minutes later is all sorted. Initially, is a case of gritting teeth and getting on with it it. I seem to lose myself for a while and then feel the burn round about 20 mimutes in to it. Could too easily give up at this point but I can't be doing with a half mown lawn so give myself some cognitive behavioural bullying and carry on.

I feel pretty knackered for a while after but then I go and check my work and think smug thoughts. The little boy's voice, the one that comes up after the end tiles of 'X Files' has sprung to mind. The one that goes "I made this". Okay, so I didn't actually make the lawn but I made it look tidier. That'll do for me.

Debs has just turned up. We are heading off to ASDA to get goodies for Dad and then going visiting.

I shall reward myself with large, gooey, cream cake!!!!!

Saturday, 25 July 2009

No Good....Start the Oxygen!!! need to be buzzing your bits off (and to have sunk 3 cans of red bull) to keep up with this.

Oh yes and NOT have smoked for 30 years!!!!

Thems were the days..........sneaks off for afternoon kip

Friday, 24 July 2009

4 Lorazepam and my head is still buzzing

Further revelations of the day:

My care co-ordinator turned up, this afternoon, with my STR Worker. I was not aware that STR Worker was coming along but I sense some 'Pow Wows' have gone down and the mighty bureaucrats have decided that is time I pulled my socks up and got on with 'recovering'.

I had some kind of review. I think it is called a CPA5...or a CP5. Could be a C3P0 for all I know!!! Was informed that they had to justify their existance by me doing something that is quantifiable and within acceptable (to the mighty bureaucrats) timescale. I got to the 'what the fekk?' stage and so said I will go swimming with STR Worker with a view to going swimming by myself, and or joining swimming club, after 2 months. That was when I was handed a piece of paper and asked to complete it as in their words "I am so much better at explaining things"! In other words, they hadn't got a clue what to write. Ha! Ha!

Funnily enough, I remember having a conversation with STR worker, prior to the real rot setting in with Dad, about my need to do something healthy and therapeutic. I mentioned that I liked swimming. At the time, she told me it was not her remit to do this with me. That is when she suggested I ask previous care co-ordinator to help me apply for a Direct Payment. So I could pay for someone to go swimming with me. that being the previous care co-ordinator who told me straight that she didn't like doing paperwork and promptly put that on back burner.... And so the circle completes itself now....because it is 'audit time' at HQ.

Will I actually achieve going to a swimming pool by myself or joining a swimming club and being stable enough to stick with it? I really don't know but, right now, it isn't top of me 'To Do' List.

At least it made my care co-ordinator "very excited" (her words) on my behalf. Hope she is sleeping soundly tonight...for Monday I am sure she has loads more CPA5 forms to be cobbling together.

For the record. As in the record that is my blog....there is still no sign of the 'support worker' that I was assured would be in place by May. The support worker that was going to take my case off STR worker's hands. Seems like everyone is being shafted from behind.

Wouldn't surprise me if I come back from Derbyshire to find an envelope with a formal notification that I have fully met the recovery criteria and have therefore been discharged from MH services.

Come hell or waters high I am going to Derbyshire on Wednesday. I need to get the heck out of here for a while.

Dad update:

Having rung the ward earlier, have been informed there are still concerns in regards to his liver function. He is being given another lot of blood tests and kept in hospital over the weekend. The nurse I spoke to said that he is likely to get a psychiatric assessment on Monday. Based on the physical side of things, I would assume that will depend on how is liver is functioning then.

I don't want to demand of my friend over the weekend so am going to attempt to get to the hospital by myself. That is with the aid of a taxi. Not sure whether am in best space to do this but worry that a weekend in hospital with no contact from the outside will be a miserable place for Dad. I don't know. Perhaps, he is finding the contact with staff (however slight that is), regular meals and activity going on around him stimulating. For some it would be more stimulating than staying at home and staring at four walls. Personally, the thought of being in that environment gives me the heebies. I don't find visiting much of a pleasure because it brings memories of regular emergency trips there with Mum. Is a case of duty above everything. I am really longing for a time when duty is a thing of the past and having a life that doesn't revolve around crisis coping is a reality.

Am thinking maybe the swimming might turn out to be a goer. Even if I don't achieve full independance and Miss 'Better Late Recovery Than Never' Award, I might get a couple of good sessions out of it.

Real Pozzie of the Day:

Em and her fella turned up and we put together a list of classic 90's dance tunes (with the aid of Youtube). They are going to burn a cd and we will be playing this, in the car, on Monday when we all go to the zoo together.

This was the first song that got all our approval:

Don't take any notice of me. I am only his daughter

Dad has been on a general ward since Wednesday (mid-dayish). I visited him everyday since he was admitted but needed today to rest. Not just because I am the only one in constant contact with him (day to day basis)and we need to keep some bonds going but because I needed to know what was going on.

Looking back Tuesday (his admission day) and Wednesday (on the acute assessment ward) were the best days. I guess the level of care was more constant but also staff seemed willing to answer questions and interact in regards to his care.

Things went a bit boobs akimbo after he was transferred to a general ward. Nobody seemed to have a clue what was going on. I had to remind the nurses that there was an 8 hour saline drip that needed to be started (this was an hour and a half into my visit). Blood test results couldn't be found (deja vu or what?) and the attitude of staff by their body language and the way they postured around was that they were far too important to be answering any questions.

I have to say that Dad isn't helping anyone to help him. I had asked for a social care and occupational therapy assessment to be carried out on my father. The staff nurse said she would write this down to ensure it happened. So far, no social care assessement and Dad told the occupational therapist that he didnt' need any assistance!!!!!! I think he does because not only did he fall over, having taken his overdose but he had fallen over on Saturday and banged his head. As ever, I only hear of these things after the event.

Yesterday, had to argue my case for seeing him. They had changed visiting hours and the nurse I rang in the morning couldn't be bothered to tell me. Hence, I turned up and was told off. Ms Strident is really carrying me through the visits because I made it clear that if staff can't be bothered to keep me informed of changes that is their problem not mine.

Still no blood test results and ward round hadn't been completed so nobody could tell me anything. Dad was pretending he was fine. He said he was on a post overdose high. Having never taken an overdose, I didn't understand but I thought the fact that he had had no medication for 3 days might be playing some part in that. The only way I can describe how he was behaving was impish. It is clear he has no understanding of the impact of his overdose on me and I think now is not the time to be trying to make him understand how I feel. I don't think he wants to know and, actually, I am in no mood for sharing my hurt with him.

So I did the practical bits. Sorting out washing to bring home, asking him what he had to eat, giving him drinks. Was good that my friend was there. She took some of the chit chatting.

Came home, bewildered but trying to keep my armoury in place. I think if I think too much about this...or let my feelings out...I might collapse in a heap.

Had been home 10 minutes and had call from Dr J. He was being very abrasive. Demanding to know what was going on. I was being vague because I didn't really know and also I wanted time to unwind. This was not enough for him and he insisted I ring him back later. I agreed and then he slammed phone down.

Next thing.....he is sending accusatory texts to me. I didn't respond. I switched mobile off when I got a message saying "You can fuck off". Cheers for the empathy Dr J. I also took phones out of sockets. Dropped a lorazepam and let go.

Today, I got an email early morning from Director of Working Age Adult Services (spot title change), informing me he is taking my concerns very seriously and going to do an internal investigation and that should I have further concerns to ring him. Hmmm...

And so I rang the ward. Got Nurse Vacant on the phone. I asked how Dad was and what was happening. She said "He is stable and the doctor will be seeing him later". I asked if a psychiatric assessment was scheduled. Her response was "It is up to the doctor". Maybe I am picking up the wrong vibes but Dad has seen at least 3 doctors that I know of and as his stay has panned out the approach has gone from him definately needing a psychiatric assessment to ...depends who sees him on the day!!!

I rang Director back who was keen to inform me that Dad's overdose did not meet 'Serious Untoward Incident' criteria (surprise, surprise). I said that I was alarmed at the response I got from Nurse Vacant and he asked me what I thought should happen next. I said that Dad should not be discharged back to his home (reasons obvious to me but I expanded on for Director's convenience) and I felt that he needed to be transferred to a place of safety. He said he would talk to colleagues and get back to me.

Within 5 minutes I got a call back from Director saying that he had rang the ward and told them Dad was not to be discharged without the Crisis Team seeing him. He had organised for a Crisis Team visit today and that he had been in communication with the Director of Acute Services and they were thinking of transferring Dad to acute care unit for a fuller assessment. 'Thinking of transferring Dad'. All this thinking that goes on...

Also struck me funny that the Director asked me what I thought should happen. I have been raising concerns since January 2008 and offering my views on what would help Dad. Nobody seems to have paid much attention before!

Gotta hope that all the thinking that the Directors are doing will lead to some protective action. And song of the day has to be:

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

My father took an overdose

I can't go into all details of today. What I can say is that only through Ms Strident taking the helm did I manage to get the truth from my father and an ambulance sorted.

Spent a half real/half surreal day at the Luton and Dunstable hospital...thanks to a friend who trekked all the way there and back on train and stayed with Dad and me for hours, I handled it better..well, actually handled it.

Dad had blood tests and due to toxicity levels in his liver was put on continual drips. I left him, as settled as anyone in that siutation can be, around 10 pm...once I had sorted him some jammies and gone through the meds with the nurses and had a very long chat with him and the doctor about what had led him to do this. Let's recap over the last 18 months...but not right now!!!!

My most poignant moment of today was suddenly finding myself at a loss as what to do, so I gave him a foot massage. Dad and me don't have the most tactile of relationships but it seemed the only comfort I could offer. Words were irrelevant at that point. I was heartened that he found it soothing and was more than happy for me to continue to do it..and so I did for quite some time. I think till a nurse came along to check his vitals.

And now I am home, thanks to another friend who drove me and made me a cup of strong sweet tea. I need to ring the hospital around 10.30 am to find out how Dad is and what arrangements are being made in regards to supported after care. His support worker who arrived about the same time as the ambulance (after I phoned and insisted on back up from the CMHT)was talking Crisis Team but I fear the Crisis Team will not be able to provide the level of constant monitoring Dad needs.

Anyway, I have an email to write to the Complaints Manager (with a copy to MP) asking for this to be recorded as a Serious Untoward Incident. I think I need to write certain things about negligence and the recent uncertainties in regards to who is supposed to be providing Dad's care....but I am going to sleep on that because now I need to take extra lorazepam so that I do get some sleep.

I feel peculiarly calm...numb. I hope that is my brain's way of cossetting me from going to darker places.

One day I will walk into the light and I will be free. Hmmmmmm

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Who, What, How, When and Why....DOH!

Latest letter to Mental Health Trust:

Dear (Complaints Manager)

I have written to you, as I do not have a telephone contact number or email address for (Director of Community Teams).

I do have some concerns in regards to the notes of the meeting. My most pressing one is the references to my father being subject to meeting fair access to care criteria. This means very little to me. As far as I am aware what was agreed at that meeting is what was going to be put into action. I do understand that there has to be care criteria but my father has now been ill for 18 months and I think the level of his debilitation meets care criteria above that which he is already receiving.

I am very concerned about a letter that my father received, during the same week of the meeting of 6th June. Actually, my father received a photo copy of the letter, via his care co-ordinator, because the original had been sent to the wrong address. The letter asked him to attend a meeting at Poplars, which, I now understand, is a part of the MH Trust that specialises in the care of older age people. I wonder if Director of Community Teams was aware that this meeting had been organised because at no time during the meeting on 6th July did Director say that plans had been put in place for my father to be assessed by the Older Age MH Team. In fact, based on what was said in that meeting I thought (Director) had agreed to certain actions that the Community Mental Health Team would be involved in. I therefore assumed that it would be the Community Mental Health Team, under the Directorship of (Director) that would be responsible for delivering care services.

My father is very confused by what is going on. He believes the Community Mental Health Team are washing their hands of him. I can only assume there has been a breakdown in communication somewhere as prior to my father telling me he received the photocopied letter about a meeting at Poplars, neither my father or I had been informed that a meeting had been organised with the Older Age Mental Health Team.

My prime concerns are that my father gets the appropriate care to meet his needs and that I don’t have to keep chasing people up to either get that care or find out who is doing what and why. This is something I have commented on, and written about, on different occasions but still there is very little clarity and decisions seem to be made without prior consultation with my father. One part of the MH Trust seems to be saying one thing and another does something different.

Personally, I don’t mind which section of the MH Trust (along with other external organisations with specialities) provides care for my father. I cannot speak on behalf of my father. He seems confused about what is going on. Particularly as his care plan included twice weekly visits from the Support Worker but now he is only seeing her once a week. What worries me is the mixed messages that are being sent and lack of proper communication of what is and isn’t happening in regards to his care.

I would appreciate you forwarding this email to (Director) and to receive a response from him in regards to what he understands to be happening.

As I previously informed you, I will be sending a copy of the notes of the meeting to my MP. He has asked me to keep him updated on progress that is made. At present, I am not sure exactly what is going on or which team will be providing care support in future. However, once this is clear I think it is only fair that (MP) is informed.


Monday, 20 July 2009

'Fortitude Overcome by Grace in the Absence of Hope"

Aww if only.....

One of the few things I have been able to do, over the weekend... that is long enough to feel the to read. Yep, it's a quote from 'Tennyson's Gift' and, if the author is to be believed, Tennyson was so despised for his lack of personal hygiene and an insinstance on reciting his poetry until people fell off their chairs (sleeping or died). I don't believe everything I read. If and when my brain/body decides there is a balance to be got will have to try and find out more of the truth of the man.

I am sure there is more depth to the title than I can imagine (particularly now as my grey matter struggles to hold on to any sense of much of anything).

It just struck me as relevant, somehow. I have this image of the Grand National in my head, A totally abhorant excuse for sport that only proves that greed wins out above everything. Anyway, there's the hardy perenials (or plain dumb arses) forcing horses over Beeches Brooke and there's me.... still looking up at the first hurdle (horse already bolted).

I sometimes think there really is method in my madness because life is a struggle and some... that is either unless you have sussed that you have to be an arse licker to get on or have got to the point where everyone is licking your arse. To be stuck in my box does serve (mostly) to keep me from enduring more of the world's madness which I simply cannot endure.

Okay so I am not down a pit 16 hours a day..well not in the physical meaning... but my brain, soul, psyche..the whole damn sharabang is knackered out.

I would love 'Grace' to take the helm. I had an Auntie Grace who epitomised her name. She was gentle, kind, sweet and incredibly tolerant. I am kind...I think I was standing at Mr Whippy's waiting for me 99 when the rest of those qualities were being dished out.

For sure 'fortitude' has succumbed to 'relentless batterings' and 'Hope' has occasionally shown themselves but scarpered pretty sharpish.

I rally (erratically) but the strong days are replaced by weaker ones (and too fekkin' many of them). Perhaps, I should be dead by now? Is not as melodramatic as it seems. Perhaps some people aren't meant to endure or perhaps some people have more to endure than they can cope with? And really when the mind is buggered up what it needs more than anything is rest (and some quality activities that don't have it twisting itself into more knots).

Anyway, am rambling. My view is when you are fekked, you are fekked. Some people may be better able to unfekk themselves or tolerate the fekked-up ness but I wave the flag of 'fekked-ness'.

I don't even mind being shown up as the party pooper who won't join the recovery party and must spend the rest of her life shunned by all 'recovering nicely thank you very much'...SHAME ON ME. In spite of what the MH Director insists is in my best interests and that has been drummed home with his constant reference to my father being 'subject to meeting fair access to care criteria'. If anyone knows what that actually means, apart from being a possible get out clause, feel free to enlighten me!!!!

So...I shall huddle back down with the book and try and lose myself some more in someone else's fantasy.

P.S. Would also be interested to find out how long it takes for Tamiflu to do anything.

Here's the kind of Grace I can relate to:

Saturday, 18 July 2009

The Weekend That Wasn't and Tamiflu

I am not supposed to be here! Well, if everything had gone to plan I would be somewhere else.

What I can say is internal hysteria has played a mega part in me not being miles away and wallowing in nature's glory.

Thursday had not been a particularly good day for me, physically or mentally, but I tend to err on the side that most of my physical problems are reactions to mental illness and stress and so I rattle along, sometimes crawl along, with all kinds of physical stuff happening because I don't know any better and neither do the GPs.

The Labrynthitis had seemed to be easing but as the week went on the itching in the ear came back, along with swooshing in the head by Friday it was overwhelming dizziness, throbbing head, sore throat, achey limbs and feeling totally exhausted. I had been trying very hard not to get caught up in the Swine Flu histrionics but got wind of the new estimated death toll which scared the crap out of me. Not helped by a friend who was texting me how bad she was feeling.

Derbyshire friends rang me around lunchtime when the symptoms had not got so severe...and I was not so hysterical...and said they were picking me up around 4pm. By 3pm I was envisaging myself in ICU. I rang them back and said that I felt bad and didn't think I could hack travelling. Their advice was to ring GP straight away. I don't blame them for being overly concerned, I was in a right state.

So I rang the GP's practice and the receptionist said that if I wanted, she could get a GP to ring me back. I did...because I was in a pickle and didn't know what was what.

The GP rang back and after I reeled off my symptoms said "I will give you the benefit of the doubt" and wrote a prescription out for the drug. I am not sure I wanted the benefit of the doubt. I wasn't sure that I had Swine Flu....although I was paranoid about having it and frightened by my symptoms. I don't blame the GP for saying that either. Is hard to know what anyone has in a one minute phone call and, from what I gathered, the surgery had been in-undated with people ringing about Swine Flu.

Was a logistical nightmare getting the tablets but thanks to another friend, I did get them and amazing it is that I have had no (not a single one) bad side effect from taking them.

So do I have Swine Flu? Maybe/maybe not and maybe it is only a mild form but I am sleeping lots and have little spurts of energy then followed by hours of slumping.

I feel guilty that I am quite possibly taking someone else's supply of the medication. Someone who could die without it. In my defence, all I can say is that I was so scared by my symptoms that I didn't know what else to do but ring the GP and apologise unreservedly for not being stable enough to see the wood for the trees for more than an hour at a time. :>(

Friday, 17 July 2009

Norwich 'Mind' Day Centre To Be Scrapped

Mental health bosses have moved to defend their decision to scrap a vital centre in the city as fears mount for the people who use the facility.

More than 100 people with mental health problems regard the Mind Resource Centre in Lower Gate Lane as their “lifeline” and were devastated to be told last month it would be closing down.

The day centre is used by about 120 people five days a week who have a long term mental illness and are referred either social services or mental health teams.

Everyone partakes in activities such as pottery and creative writing and they can learn computer skills and also go on social outings but the government no longer believe these types of centres are viable.

All the users were initially told by mental health bosses they would be offered alternative support and would be able to use the Bridges Centre in Magdalen Street instead.

But today they were told they would probably all be split up with many offered care just in “mainstream services” and on an individual basis.

Barbara Luxton, 57, a mother-of-one from Dereham has been using the centre for the past five years. She suffers from manic depression and said the centre has helped her overcome numerous problems.

“We are all so upset about this decision,” she said. “We are trying to do what we can do fight it. I have many friends there and this gets us through life, we will be stuck without it.

“They told us first of all that we would be able to stick together but now they have said we are all going to be offered separate help and some will be treated in mainstream care.

“This is devastating news for us because it means we can't mix with our friends and other people who understand our problems.”

Since the centre opened in 1994 as part of the Mind mental health charity's day centre programme it has encouraged each person who attends to seek a self-supportive lifestyle and gain enough knowledge of themselves and their illness to enable them to cope with day to day living in the community.

Mind bosses said the changes in day services is a “positive move” for people and should not be regarded as a cut in services.

Sandra Flannigan from Norwich Mind said: “This is a transformation of day services and everyone affected will receive some kind of alternative care.

“This might seem very hard at the moment but this transition process will give people more choice and more opportunities. In the long term it will be to people's advantage but it is hard for us to say anymore right now.

“We are not seeing it as closing anywhere but as transforming services.”

The Mind Resource Centre will close next spring.

Do you have a health story for the Evening News? Call Sarah Hall on 01603 772426 or email

Thursday, 16 July 2009

A bit of 'on side' is better than coming up against continual 'off sides'!

Got a response from my MP. I wasn't expecting much but was a bit heartened by his response.

In his letter, he has asked to be kept in touch with how my father's care needs are being taken forward and that should I remain concerned after the 3 month period, he would be only too pleased to write to the Ombudsman on my behalf. That will be some relief..not much if, after 3 months, things are still as grim but by him taking things forward it means I don't have to get caught up in another layer of bureaucracy.

As stated earlier I don't expect much but every little helps. As in helps me stop collapsing under the weight of the monolith.

Dissent...A quality or a hurdle to success?

I suppose that would depend on why a person is dissenting.

This posting is prompted by the latest posting on the psyblog ( which looks at the reasons why groupthink needs challenging.

Most of the groups I have been on have had a hierarchy (even those who have claimed to be democratic) and there is definately pressure to conform...I suppose in order to make a decision (as well as have some sense of purpose amongst others). It can all seem rather seedy if you aren't someone who believes in the hierarchy, is the hierachy or wants to freely run with a pack. It can lead to feeling or being ostrazed or having a desire to ostrazise one's self.

I know, I know, someone (and that ususally is a group of someones) has to make decisions. Well, maybe they don't. Maybe everyone should be making more decisions but, practically speaking, I think it would be impossible for everyone to be making decisions about everything. Perhaps, in a different world it wouldn't be impossible but I am hypothesizing (and Americanizing my writing) a bit too much. Nosebleed territory.

The older I have got, the less comfortable I have felt in group situations..particulary of a formal nature. Quite a bit of that is due to experience and some of it is down to me not being a team player because I am rather sussy about who is/are actually leading the team and why (as well as being too vocal about my thoughts and feelings). There are status quos that have to be kept. It is an unwritten rule.

So, when I come across a posting that actively asks people to challenge 'groupthink' and the explanation for that fits with my own concerns in regards to conformity, with the outcome of nothing really changing for the better, then I breathe a sigh of relief.

And everytime I get a pang of consiounce to join a 'shared' campaign.. because I think it might make a positive difference...I suddenly get this image of Napoleon in 'Animal Farm' and the desire to join anything disappears. Yeah, it's a cop out but spare me the false belief that 'Snowball' could have stood a chance.

On a lighter note...has been a week of doing things. I did venture to the carers' group fish and chip supper and enjoyed the quiz and company but I made it clear that I am not interested in the 'Mind' workshop or the 'Recovery' talk that are going to be the focus of the next 2 meetings. For those who want it, it is there for them. Me...I prefer a non demanding evening out, with a bit of frivolity.

Yesterday, Em and me walked to town in search of lunch and more flowers for the garden and it was nice to have 'our time' together. Has been a bit too long.

Today, am going to the zoo for a few hours with friend. I think she is feeling left out. It isn't deliberate. I am not always up to things and when I do get sudden surges above and beyond trudgedom, I just go with them. Anyway, hopefully we will have some quality time together.

Tomorrow, I am off to Derbyshire to stay with friends. Am viewing it more as respite than anything else and have bought a new book 'Tennyson's Gift'...purely because it is set on the Isle of Wight and I love The Isle of Wight.

Am taking my 'Dissent' on a mini break. Ha!

A professional confirms that mind altering drugs alter the mind

Problem is they still haven't got a clue as to how or why!!

The Myth of The Chemical Cure by Dr Joanna Moncrief

Taking a pill to treat depression is widely believed to work by reversing a chemical imbalance.

Medication is a mainstay of mental health therapy
But in this week's Scrubbing Up health column, Dr Joanna Moncrieff, of the department of mental health sciences at University College London, says they actually put people into "drug-induced states".

If you've seen a doctor about emotional problems some time over the past 20 years, you may have been told that you had a chemical imbalance, and that you needed tablets to correct it.

It's not just doctors that think this way, either.

Magazines, newspapers, patients' organisations and internet sites have all publicised the idea that conditions like depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder can be treated by drugs that help to rectify an underlying brain problem.

People with schizophrenia and other conditions are frequently told that they need to take psychiatric medication for the rest of their lives to stabilise their brain chemicals, just like a diabetic needs to take insulin.

The trouble is there is little justification for this view of psychiatric drugs.

Altered states

First, although ideas like the serotonin theory of depression have been widely publicised, scientific research has not detected any reliable abnormalities of the serotonin system in people who are depressed.

Second, it is often said the fact that drug treatment "works" proves there's an underlying biological deficiency.

Psychoactive drugs make people feel different

But there is another explanation for how psychiatric drugs affect people with emotional problems.

It is frequently overlooked that drugs used in psychiatry are psychoactive drugs, like alcohol and cannabis.

Psychoactive drugs make people feel different; they put people into an altered mental and physical state.

They affect everyone, regardless of whether they have a mental disorder or not.

Therefore, an alternative way of understanding how psychiatric drugs affect people is to look at the psychoactive effects they produce.

Drugs referred to as antipsychotics, for example, dampen down thoughts and emotions, which may be helpful in someone with psychosis.

Drugs like Valium produce a state of relaxation and a pleasant drowsiness, which may reduce anxiety and agitation.

Drugs labelled as "anti-depressants" come from many different chemical classes and produce a variety of effects.

Prior to the 1950s, the drugs that were used for mental health problems were thought of as psychoactive drugs, which produced mainly sedative effects.

'Informed choice'

Views about psychiatric drugs changed over the course of the 1950s and 1960s.


More from Today programme
They gradually came to be seen as being specific treatments for specific diseases, or "magic bullets", and their psychoactive effects were forgotten.

However, this transformation was not based on any compelling evidence.

In my view it remains more plausible that they "work" by producing drug-induced states which suppress or mask emotional problems.

If we gave people a clearer picture drug treatment might not always be so appealing

This doesn't mean psychiatric drugs can't be useful, sometimes.

But, people need to be aware of what they do and the sorts of effects they produce.

At the moment people are being encouraged to believe that taking a pill will make them feel better by reversing some defective brain process.

That sounds good. If your brain is not functioning properly, and a drug can make it work better, then it makes sense to take the pill.

If, on the other hand, we gave people a clearer picture, drug treatment might not always be so appealing.

If you told people that we have no idea what is going on in their brain, but that they could take a drug that would make them feel different and might help to suppress their thoughts and feelings, then many people might choose to avoid taking drugs if they could.

On the other hand, people who are severely disturbed or distressed might welcome these effects, at least for a time.

People need to make up their own minds about whether taking psychoactive drugs is a useful way to manage emotional problems.

To do this responsibly, however, doctors and patients need much more information about the nature of psychiatric drugs and the effects they produce.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Mental Health Nurse Jailed for Golf Rage

A golfer who hit another player on the head with a golf club in Bedfordshire has been jailed for nine months.

Luton Crown Court heard 54-year-old Harold Stafford assaulted Barry Barnes after accusing him of playing his ball.

Stafford, of Luton, was found guilty of actual bodily harm over the attack last September at Stockwood Park golf club.

The court heard Mr Barnes suffered two black eyes and had to take a week off work. Claudette Elliott, prosecuting, described the assault as "golf rage".

Ms Elliott said: "The defendant was there with two of his friends and there was a misunderstanding about a ball that had gone astray.

"He felt that Mr Barnes had played his ball and he hit Mr Barnes with a golf club, causing it to break."

'Appalling violence'

The court heard that Mr Barnes also suffered chest and back injuries in the attack on 19 September.

In a statement to the court, Mr Barnes said: "I'm very shocked.

"I could not believe he was so cowardly to attack me when my back was turned."

The court heard that Stafford, of Leagrave Road, had worked as a psychiatric nurse for more than 30 years.

Judge Richard Foster said: "You are a man who has served his community well as a psychiatric nurse but, on this occasion, you showed the most appalling violence and anger and I regret to say that I can think of no other sentence but custody.

"If this is how you respond to minor provocation, I dread to think how you respond to provocation in your role as a psychiatric nurse, but that is for others to decide."

During his trial, Stafford claimed he acted in self-defence after Mr Barnes shouted a racist comment at him.

Defence barrister Brereton Horne said what happened was a "moment of madness and a temporary lapse of judgement".

He added: "His life is shattered. He does regret the situation that transpired and wishes it had never happened."

Hows about the defending barrister's comment - "a moment of madness'? The irony of it is quite comical!!!! And where are the STIGMA police when you need them????

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Pieces of me

Yesterday would have been Mum's birthday. Normally, on this day, I either go to plot and then come home and spend time pondering 'our stuff' or just stay home and ponder.

Was not to be! Dad was flapping about THE PHOTOCOPIED LETTER and what it meant so spoke to his care-coordinator about that. Seems he is being assessed by Older People's MH Team. I feel neither positive or negative about it. It may be an opportunity to get more care or just another round of passing the buck on. He feels the CMHT have given up on him. More likely there is nothing that they can or are willing to) offer him. Anyway....I sense Dad is playing more and more 'child' in order to try and get me to be 'mummy'. Wrong fucking day DAD! He told me he didn't think he would make it to GP appointment..even though I had done my bit to organise relevant parties to help him. I just said "Is up to you". Ultimately it is and then it is up to me to blank all the 'everything is hopeless, nobody cares' talk that he aims at me. Is not that I don't understand hopelessness or that nobody really does care that much but he expects me to fill all the gaps and somehow sprinke some magic hope dust in his life. Wrong fucking person DAD! And yes, I am trying to make it clear to him that I am the wrong person..he is just stuck in 'Save me Mummy mode".

Have written back to MP, basically to keep him in the communication cycle and also to let him know that I know that all that has been happening is bits of paper being pushed around. Well one of us is actually trying to get the MH Services to be more pro-active but the other is following protocols (one must be seen to be doing one's bit in the great bureaucracy). The MH Director was keen for MP to be kept out of the equation. Perhaps they are more wary of a Tory Government!!!!

I have agreed to a 3 month review period following new action plan (when it materialises) but have made it clear that if I feel things are 'slipping through nets' again and people are not forthcoming with support then the agreement, to wait for the 3 months to have passed, means very little to me and i will do as I see fit. Not that I expect that to make much difference but is not like I have any real power and is not like there is anything any one person can do against a service that is 99%not there when needed.

Anyway, today, I have taken phones out of sockets. Will be taking whatever amounts of sedation is necessary to block this all out and will reflect back on times when Mum and I were there, together and for each other.

Have been (as is my way) avoiding all the bollocks hype surrounding Michael Jackson. Songs, like this, are what I liked about him:

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Doing my bit

Had written a long posting and then got an error message.... So cutting to the chase: ..walked to town and back, yesterday.Bought some purple and lilac flowers and re-potted them.

My plan is to get, say, 8-10 big pots full of pretties to attact bees.

I have bought one pot which am hoping to turn into a DIY bee home but still not sure about the practicalities (in regards to Suki) or exactly what needs to go in there to make it a decent living arrangement. So next step is to re-surf net and see what needs to be done.

I think that is the most constructive thing I have done (started to work on) in a while. A little project, without interferance from people who have other agendas for me, that I can do at my leisure and hopefully make a small and positive difference to something worthwhile... because Bees are very worthwhile little creatures and cute too!!!

Saturday, 11 July 2009

I finally have a stall booked

This is the latest batch. Have to say, I am loving the Forever Friends themes. Is quite expensive to buy those embellishments but they are fun to make.

And finally, the local school have got back to me and have reserved me a stall at their September Festival. I was starting to think I would end up with my front room full of cards. All dressed up and nowhere to go.

Have put together a box of my creations to take to friends' next week and hopefully they will be able to sell them on their stall.

All small steps but heading in the right direction.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Another round of revolving doors

I wasn't going to write because I haven't been filled with a new sense of purpose or well being by latest goings on with MH staff.

Reality is what it is so I am going to write. The meeting on Monday was another round of 'what can we do for you'. The Director offering to follow up on ECT, CBT, direct payments and social support. I have been promised contact numbers if I have concerns. Yes, on the surface all very warm and fluffy stuff. I have serious doubts about the CBT but I kept schtum because is Dad's choice to take that option or not...

I remember being given contact details by the other Director, who made contact once and then didn't bother getting back to me. I also have concerns (as I raised at the meeting) that things are offered and then my father is left to sort out how he gets to appointments etc..which then is left to me to get him there. Director assured me that these arrangments would be resolved by his staff.

I don't believe what was agreed will happen because I have been to plenty of meetings and things are offered and promised and don't materialise. Is all fine and dandy, a Director saying things but someone else has to deliver on their promises....other staff and their track records show that they don't. Is all in pending present. As it has been for last 18 months.

Wednesday was implosion day. My new care co-ordinator turned up 45 minutes late as her previous appointment overan. Wrong day for that to happen. I had around 30 minutes with her, before I had to go to GP appointment. She said all she could offer me was the services of the Crisis Team. Yes, just what I need 10 minutes a day of someone asking me if I am sleeping, eating and what my mood is like. Too little of not much of anything for me. Care co-ordinator said "Well, you know what service are like". Yes, I do..self serving. I became pre-occupied with getting to GP appointment and so said I don't believe the system is there to help me and all I want now is as much medication as will sedate me to place where I am not likely to do something to myself. Is about survival. She made some feeble comment about it being a case of how the team help me to sustain and would contact me.

I know how the team will help me to sustain... by doing what they always do. Nothing!!! I doubt I will hear from her for a couple of weeks. That is custom and practise.

The GP was compassionate. I think those GPs who do care are aware of the gaps in MH services. He basically said there wasn't much he could do. I thought that anyway but he has given me a prescription for lorazepam. Enough to stay calm and or oblivous when I need to (for a few weeks).

I undersand how people become alcoholics and junkies. There really isn't anything there, support wise. It is all down to the individual and that is fine when people can keep focussed (on self healing and getter better..or whatever particular thing gives them a sense of purpose and meaning). When their days aren't swamped by losses past and present and the impact they have. Some will say I am making that an excuse not to do anything.

I still get up...I still do the acceptable healthy things like tidying up, washing, eating, bathing....dragging myself out for walks. I make my cards (although sometimes I think the only ends is to have used my time creatively). I see his washing, buy him treats, cook for him when he is her, listen to his despair. I maintain some kind of relationship with my daughter. I try to keep it light...she doesn't need to be embroiled in all this 'negative stuff' Hmmmm.

Basically, I am back on me Todd, surviving and that is as good as it gets.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

It's in the mix

Me bits are sprawled all over the floor

No, it isn't a failed attempt at Hari Kari although yesterday was heading in that direction.

Having taken heavy sedation last night and just about managing to suss out what was going on in 'Torchwood' before the hypnosis set in....slept long time and for first time in a few weeks didn't wake up in cronic stress state.

Postman woke me up, around 8.00 am ish, with a parcel :>)

Friend (relatively less special)sent me a box of crafty stuff. I was expecting a few bits and pieces, which would have still been much appreciated but it was like 5 or 6 of my usual craft orders in one.

Spent an excited half hour rummaging through and have got things I have never come across before and loads to experiment with.

Thinking I might go a bit manic...I could sense it...did some housy stuff, had a bath and went to local shops for nicotine and chocolate...THEN started to empty box in front room. There are bits everywhere. Some are sorted so cards are with pictures and embellishments. There is a large choice of backing papers..pending new ideas and more decoupage than I could dedicate a whole week to. I don't believe in heaven but this is a comfy, here and now, alternative for me.

So I am going to head back to the front play.

Today's video has to be this one:

Monday, 6 July 2009

I guess the deal is that you have to believe in something

Which is a nightmare when you don't and that includes self belief.

Thinking about Tommy and the self belief that carried him through. Maybe, it was just an external persona he put on (one of the three). You can never know anyone's fucking hard enough to know myself. I thought I knew him be the least likely to take his own life. That when the chips were down for him one of his persona's would take over and he exuded love, compassion and tolerance (not much of that ever went back his way).

Maybe it is an age thing. He was in his late thirtees...I am in my middle 40's heading downhill towards 50. Maybe people get too tired to fight especially as things start wearing thin and out and science keeps chucking pills at you that don't help.

Have been thinking of revolving doors, going to appointments with medical people who have less of a clue than I do, although they will insist that sedation isn't really the answer and I must control my self medication and focus on achievable targets. There is...if I make a big enough pain in the arse of myself or pretend that I am some threat to society... acute care which used to serve as some time out with compassionate support (some hope when there seemed none) now it is where you really find out how futile and irrelevant you are. Like I need reminding!!!!

I've done the deep breathing, the visualisations, the gritting your teeth and getting on with it..I've done everything I can possibly think of and it is getting worse. It takes ages to get to sleep...I keep suddenly coming to (hyperventilating) every time I am dropping off. I dread waking up and when I do I am so dizzy with a migraine following not far behind to confirm how defenceless I am.

Advice I am getting is go to the GP. Go to the GP!!! I struggle to get to the kitchen and back. ARRRRRGH!

And the half eaten dried up cherry on this neurosis riddled cake is that there is a meeting with a service director (for fekk knows what MH department) today. And all because the lady does not love doing their job for them. What's to say to them "WILL YOU STOP FUCKING AROUND AND TAKE CARE OF MY FATHER BECAUSE I AM TOO FUCKED TO DO SO". That about sums that up. Will have to medicate myself into mongdom to even get there.

Some people plan trips abroad to get much needed time out...A coma would suit me!!!!!!