Thursday, 30 June 2011

And Time Marches On Again....

Quite a day today especially when I got a letter from Atos informing me that one of the Specialists in my case, The 'ENT Guy' *Still* hadn't replied to their request for information!! I phoned said specialist's secretary and no sooner than I said my name, I got a hurried "yes, we have the report here and all it needs is to be signed." I reminded her that I am actually very close to losing my home and that I hope to God I'll get some sort of award off them. I've had my last dismissal pay and the cash runs dry in about 2-3 weeks, still trying to pluck up the courage to go in to our local branch of Santander to tell 'em we very likely won't be able to make the August payment!

Also today between 100,000 to 200,000 (depending on who you believe, the Govt. figures or that of the particpating Unions) teachers and other public sector workers went on strike over the recent proposed changes in pensions. Normally I'm not one for strike action but in this case I support the lot of them mostly due to this Government's total disregard on previous agreements to do with retirement ages.

In recent years anyone joining a revised public sector retirement scheme, and please note folks public sector workers do have to join and contribute else they don't get a pension and always has been that way, since 2008 the age for retirement for both genders has been moved to 65. Anyone on a scheme before that coming within 2 years of retiring kept to the same age. There was supposed to be a 15 year time limit to accomodate the change and anyone retiring after 2016 would do so at 65+. Anyone retiring before that could do so at the ages set on earlier pension schemes.

Whilst I'm all for equality, it does beg the question why pension scheme companies and employers (in this case the UK Govt. and various departments run out of Whitehall) are then happy to completely break a contract and drag everything forward by 10 years or more. Now anyone winding down over the next 18 months, mostly women who have earned less anyway, has to undo all the arrangements and somehow find the wherewithal to work for longer and get less as a result. If we as employees broke our contracts willy-nilly we would all be rightfully sacked!

This also poses other questions. What as in my case and that of others, will happen if you have to retire early on ill health grounds? How does that get effected? What if you are no longer fit or able to do your work in your 30's, 40's or 50's yet have still contributed to a pension whether public sector or private? What happens then? I would love to know because not everyone can and will make it to 65. We might be living a year or two longer overall but that does not mean fitter.

Here's a link sumerising reasons for the strike from the BBC website.

I'm 50 now and do not expect to reach much past my 60's or early 70's in terms of remaining lifespan, not in the least because try as I might I have a problem with obesity and am caught in that catch 22 situation of because I feel unsteady and fatigued, exercise is difficult and not terribly consistent so then I feel even more tired and fatigued. Chuck in the menopause and we're talking real problems. I can promise you I do *NOT* stuff my face all day, far from it but reckon I would have to eat less than a mouse before I could lose a single ounce! But that's another topic for now.

Brain Tumour wise, there's not much in the news except for those of us who are patients at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth have heard the news that over 205 jobs have to be shelved. A friend of mine who is receiving treatment for a pituitary tumour came back today and says the nursing staff are in shock. And I can promise you it will get much, much worse as there will be less staff trying to do more work and will not cope. Of course then they will get the blame for not being 'productive enough' and when standards will eventually flop even further as a result.

I read some opinions over that the Brain Tumour UK site of those who were quizzed about the idea of G.P's taking over most of the commissioning of services. The overall opinion that is it would not help as GP's still remain woefully slow in getting referrals done for MRI scans for those with neurological symptoms, often leaving that part very late in the day. The 'post code lottery' on the variable quality of treatments came up too with post op care ranging from immediate and continuing MRI scanning being done to map effectiveness of treatment in some areas, to others being left for 2-4 months as it was considered not to be of 'any value'.

Another friend of mine who had a neck cancer felt forced to look elsewhere out of Cornwall for her care too. She is a Regsitered Nurse and was not impressed with the local oncology service (surgical) and referred herself to Christie's Hospital in Manchester, a world renowned centre for cancer care. Apparently her local specialist did not like that and there was much to be had in the way of professional jealousy. But I am very happy to report that she has been given the all clear none the less.

But the problem is, for most it takes energy and determination to fight and stand your ground, energy that most simply do not have, plus I still have to acknowledge that I am no expert with my brain tumour so have to at some point trust those in charge of my care. It's still small and not deadly, but that could all change very quickly and I worry about what will happen if and when it does, as I still feel I have been dismissed out of hand as it is still classed as 'incidental and asymptomatic' even though I still get vertigo 16 months later after I initially collapsed at work.

As said before, I may not be dying and really am not too unwell at present, but at the end of the day the vertigo alone has still cost me my job and a career that would be very hard to get back and I really doubt anyone would employ me with my medical history. However I'm not even sure I would want to return to being a practicing Registered Nurse now anyway due to the changes in the NHS. It would be far too stressful even if I were fit enough to work back in a clinical area again.

Right, that's enough moaning from me. Here's hoping someone will actually read this and leave a comment! ;)

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