Tuesday, January 28, 2014

I have a job interview!
I was excited to receive the email inviting me to attend so I phoned them immediately to confirm the date and time. I then printed off a lot of paperwork particularly regarding the documentation I must bring along. Happily all to hand except for my nurse registration card. Quelle horreur! I have last years card but not the recent one which I must have shredded by mistake. Luckily I kept the paper confirmation which is what HR want to see and my renewal is due this coming March. I will be bringing myself up to speed with the latest in nursing but particularly around continuing health care which is the area of work for this interview. The job is 28 hours per week and will involve commuting but I can cope with that for four days a week. So a quick visit to Essex later this week and on my return a few days of refreshing my memory and remembering interview skills and techniques.


Friday, January 24, 2014

I nearly forgot that tomorrow is Burns night so out I rushed and bought in a Haggis and a malt whisky. The former is a vegetarian haggis which is lower in fat; the latter is a Glen Moray Chardonnay Cask matured malt which I hadn't tried until now. Very tasty it is too. I opted for the veggie haggis because not only is it low fat but I might tempt Mrs C. into trying some. A sheep's stomach stuffed with sheep's offal can be off putting for many and it certainly is for her. Having grown up on good solid Irish fare including roasted stuffed lambs hearts, black and white puddings, etc... Haggis is a tasty dish.

I will cook it with neeps and tatties although I may give the bagpipes a miss. They aren't as tasty unless battered and deep fried. I may follow it up with a deep fried battered Mars Bar!... or not as the case will be.

On Sunday it is Australia Day so a kangaroo and a can of XXXX may be required!

It's No.1 son's last day on the factory floor and, after a weeks holiday, he starts his training in Oracle for the same company. No increase in pay but he sees it as a stepping stone to a career and a better lifestyle and he will no longer smell like manna to felines. He enjoys computers and IT so he is looking forward to this and he'll be in the cold store a lot as well. He'll be wrapped up like an Eskimo which will be nice during the few hot days we get in summer. Excuse me... Molly, our oldest cat is sprawled across my chest and it is hard to type with her here.

She is the small brown cat studiedly ignoring Mog and nearest the camera. We believe she is now 18 years old which would put her in her nineties in human years. She is once again showing bald patches and she takes her time to climb up things (my legs are scarred!) or to jump down. Poor old tatty cat who is spoilt rotten.

Here she is sharing the spare bed with Louis who is three times her size and pesters her to play. I am astonished that they sleep in close proximity but they appear comfortable with each others company. The stuff on the bed is from our latest tidy up and there is a lot of stuff to be get rid of. The local charity shops may acquire some of it as I am a great believer in recycling although I may sell some of it on-line. Farcebook has a local "swaps & sales" page.
On the job front there is no news as yet from the applications I made. Friday afternoon appears to be the time when new NHS jobs are posted so I'll have a trawl through that this evening. Otherwise, feet up and a good book plus a good whisky is my plan for this evening. Especially after Mrs C. and I helped some chap this morning to catch his adorable but very lively Husky which had escaped from his garden and decided to play with the traffic. That's my workout for the day done!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Trawling t'internet t'other day whilst looking for mandolin music I came across the following....

As Mrs C can verify I do become obsessive at times ( Sherlock Holmes, Greta Garbo, etc...) and the same may be happening with Lee Morse. I had never heard of her before this and I am fascinated by her voice which is / was wonderful. I have had a love for twenties and thirties jazz since my teens and discovering this has been a delight for me. I hope you enjoy it too...

Saturday, January 18, 2014

I decided last night that I would have a couple of beers having abstained for nearly three weeks. I have a few bottles of special beers put away and one of them is shown in the following video.

Imperial Russian Stout, a beer I had not tried before last night but one that had been on my list for years as I am a fan of porters and stouts. I can't remember where I bought the two bottles but I decided to have only the one last night as it is a strong brew despite it being only 275 mls in size. A healthy respect for an excellent beer and it certainly was that. I also had two bottles of Lion Stout which is a Sri Lankan beer and is sweeter than the Russian beer. It is a beer I have always liked since discovering it in a local Sri Lankan corner shop where I lived in Highgate.

I have to admit, three small bottles that lasted me all evening and I slept like a log last night, only emerging from the covers at 08.30! Mind you, I was up until 1.30 am trying to get one of the bloody cats in. Louis will only go out if the back door is left open so I had to get him back. He'll be locked out the next time he pulls that stunt. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Car went in for it's MOT today and it failed! Now booked in for necessary repairs next Monday as brake lines need replacing and the rattly exhaust I reported needs a new bracket. Not bad for a ten year old runabout that has travelled far too many miles for it's own good, transported baths, furniture, various animals and all sorts of rubbish within its Tardis like interior over the last five years.

                                    (Similar model to the 'Beast').

I booked her in a bit early because I will be travelling down to Colchester at the end of the month to visit family and give my Mum a hand with some things around her house. Well... I say house but it is an old cottage which I believe was thrown up 170 + years ago when buildings regulations depended upon one's relationship with the local gentry and a donation of several crisp white fivers. I always feel like a giant in a dolls house when I stay there and there really isn't enough room to swing a cat. I have worked out that over the last several months my monthly mileage has been about 150 miles which is remarkable compared to my previous mileage. She needs a good run out then and the trip down and back will do that. I most google the long range weather forecast...


Thursday, January 16, 2014

I am chuffed to bits! The band in the video above is playing at the local Biker Bar in March and I bought meself a ticket. One of my favourite bands from the sixties and I will get to see them play live on my doorstep. Well... two of the original band members which includes Bev Bevan who was also instrumental in ELO. It's a shame Roy Wood isn't with them but I believe there have been 'musical differences' between them for many years so it is unlikely to happen. However, I am excited and Mrs C. was surprised by the speed I disappeared out through the door to buy the ticket. She doesn't like small clubs, finding them crowded and noisy whereas I love small venues. They have a lot of local bands, covers bands (see the gig list) and some original (ish) bands - Peter and the Test Tube Babies are a punk band from the late seventies performing on Valentines Day! Check out You Tube for them. I think I'll be going to see Voodoo Vegas in February because they sound pretty good too.

 It's good to support live music and Yardbirds Club's well stocked bar.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

I finally completed the Future Learn course today; England in the time of Richard 3rd and most enjoyable and informative it was. It has whetted my appetite for further study and I am looking through the Open University prospectus for some ideas. Having discovered that my studies from the early 1990's does not count towards a qualification (Boo!) I am free to consider what other courses I am interested in as well as other universities.If I am a low wage earner and accessing a student loan, there are possibilities about juggling work and studies so that I may be better off trying the local universities (Lincoln or Hull). Accruing student loan debts at my time of life is not something I feel comfortable with. However, I also have post grad. qualifications from the AMHP and BIA courses at Lincoln University so do I go with them? That would limit me to a social sciences / health Masters studying and I am not sure I want to pursue that path. As I am also in the position of no longer needing to study to further my career the academic world may now be my oyster! Decisions, decisions... albeit decisions I am glad to be in a position to consider. I shall have to ponder this further but in the meantime I will look at what else is available on the Future Learn site and I can recommend it to you.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

No blogging over the past week because I had little to say and I have been tied up with other things. The mandolin practice is going well and I can now play two songs. Admittedly, one of them is "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" and playing is slow but, after less than a week I am happy thus far. I also look forward to practice and the time flies by whilst I am engrossed. Particularly when the weather is wet and not conducive to going out. I also enjoyed two alcohol free weeks until last night when I polished off the last of the Laphroaig Quarter Cask and it hit the spot perfectly.

The job hunting continues apace and there is an interesting job which I will be applying for. It'll be back to scratch at the lowest nursing pay band and is part time but I would be happy with that. I have to check my CV is up to date and appropriate for the post and I will then email it off this evening. Otherwise feet up and  I am slowly working my way through books I downloaded to my kindle last year.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

I started on my mandolin today with the first half hour spent tuning it!

Even with the aid of an electronic tuner I struggled to get it right before I opened my "Mandolin for Dummies". Reading this and the initial practice brought me back to my music lessons many, many years ago when I chose the clarinet. Sadly, coming from the wrong side of the tracks and with no money to spare that ended after a year. However, better late than never and I have money and time to commence this path. My left fingers are now very sore and during the practice the cats vacated the room! The dog in her loyal canine way stayed by my side and slept through it all once the novelty wore off for her. The earlier walk may have contributed to that as well. The book also links to on-line lessons which I have downloaded as well as several videos from other mandolin players. Fingers crossed but hopefully not during practice. What did surprise me is that time flew by and I hadn't even been aware of it.

One of my favourite songs...


Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Two posts on the same day... "Oh Ambassador. You spoil us".
I have mentioned this before but I am near the end of this course and I would heartily recommend Future Learn. I am near to completing the Richard 3rd course once they have sorted out the computer glitch. But the plethora of other interesting and fascinating FREE courses is worth your while taking a gander at. It is also free and I believe it is available worldwide. Go on... you know you want to.
This interesting news item is doing the rounds today and attracted my attention when I emerged from my pit at 05.30. One common theme when I assessed people in A & E departments was that of the regular attenders or 'Frequent Fliers' as they were sometimes called.

"Dr Cliff Mann, of the College of Emergency Medicine, said there were a variety of issues which led patients to become frequent visitors, including mental health and problems such as drug and alcohol abuse, which suggested that with better support in the community, particularly from social care, repeat visits could be prevented."

In fact, I can think of one individual who contacted their GP several times a day, called the crisis team daily, called out ambulances or attended A & E, often three - four times per week. I even went so far as to request a meeting of all services to discuss a strategy to manage the situation including considering an 'ASBO' but my boss refused to do this. A selfish and inconsiderate individual who refused to take responsibility for their behaviour that put others at risk. They called out paramedics twice in one day stating they were suffering chest pains. This individuals diagnosis, after constant badgering of and heated discussions with the Consultant Psychiatrist by ourselves and others, was eventually agreed as Personality Disorder. The psychiatrist had stuck to "Depressive Episodes" for years despite no evidence of depression. Hence my rather jaundiced view of psychiatry as a medical science but that will be a future lengthy post. That individual clearly had problems and was unable to deal with these, instead using up the considerable time and input of a variety of services when a robust carefully orchestrated plan would have addressed the issues. Again, there are many concerns about the diagnosis of personality disorder with a frequent complaint being whether such conditions exist... another future post perhaps.

But there are a number of people who do frequently attend A & E because of alcohol, substance abuse and mental health problems. As a crisis team we got to know them and would work with other agencies to address their problems and hopefully prevent the frequent attendances. "

Why would an individual attending A & E be such a problem?" I hear you ask.

I'll give an example...
A young woman who has an alcohol problem and often resorts to self harming behaviour calls the police and she is ferried to an A & E dept. having made superficial scratches to her arm. She is extremely drunk to the point of falling over having consumed three large bottles of super strength cider during the evening and she states she intends to kill herself. A & E attend to her wounds, make her comfortable and she sleeps it off for a few hours. Crisis team is called and we attend at 8 am; assess and agree to provide support regarding her deliberate self harm issues and for an on-going assessment. We also liaise with GP, local alcohol services, her family and local housing services. Daily home visits agreed and she goes home. We home visit early afternoon and no reply but we continue to phone and make attempts to contact her. That night she is assessed at another A & E dept. repeating the above scenario involving police and ambulance. That local crisis team aware of our involvement and once sobered up she returns home - seen by us and agrees to plan of support. Over the next two weeks she attends various A & E departments with similar presentations: drunk, superficial scratches to arms and threats, whilst drunk, to kill herself. Her engagement with services is patchy and she misses appointments arranged for her with housing, social services, GP, etc... Unfortunately, the police and paramedics are caught up in a Catch 22 situation because she has taken to phoning them from public areas and threatens to kill herself, often inveigling passing members of the public so services have to respond. She is detained by police using section 136 and is assessed by AMHP's and designated doctors, sometimes in the police cells as well as in hospital. However, the outcome is that with sobriety she presents as engaging, no evidence of low mood and she denies any intent to harm herself. She blames the alcohol, her social situation and a variety of others including the GP, police, social services, family and friends. Eventually, she stops drinking with the support of a local agency and remains sober with no contact at all with services including local A & E departments. Two years later it all begins again because she is once again drinking alcohol...
The problem for A & E is that ensuring an individuals needs are met, that they are safe and cared for takes them away from others attending A & E. Particularly if the drunk individual is aggressive, vomits, urinates or defecates everywhere, behaves inappropriately towards other patients and staffs. Police officers may have to remain in situ, if staffs are assaulted they are not available to perform their duties. An ambulance required for a heart attack victim or a vehicle accident is tied up, etc... I do believe drunk tanks are required and any person whose drunken behaviour results in the results needing to be cleaned up or the attention of police, paramedics, etc... should be made to pay for their behaviour. ( Cleaning up in the evenings under supervision of other drunks comes to mind plus a large fine to pay for services used - other suggestiond welcomed).

For the six hundred square miles our crisis team covered there were a number of people presenting in similar scenarios. The salient feature was alcohol abuse and I place the emphasis upon the latter word abuse. The nannying prohibitionists will leap upon this and extend it to anyone who drinks more than a glass or two of wine a day but they have an agenda and tend to be puritanical onanists who could do with some laughter in their narrow lives. There are also individuals who present with mental health issues such as anxiety, deliberate self harm, etc... who frequently attend A & E. Again it can be extremely complicated in enabling these individuals to manage their health and social issues but this is where services have to provide good care and support. One could state that I am making judgements,especially regarding those who present with alcohol problems. But again it is a question of resources and responsibility for one's own behaviour. This was often a topic of heated debate within the team and with other agencies. One can stop drinking alcohol, often with enormous difficulty, but it can be stopped and if there are underlying issues then these can be addressed by the individual and with the support of whoever is best able to help. Anxiety is an extremely common mental health issue and often downplayed by many who believe "Snap out of it... pull yourself together" is the appropriate approach. I have nursed individuals whose lives and their personal wellbeing has been destroyed by extreme anxiety. People who are unable to leave the house, to socially engage with others or have killed themselves because of this. Most people are able to imagine and empathise with that individual but when the frequent attender suffers from schizophrenia, or has a diagnosis of personality disorder or is inadequate and can't cope for a variety of relationship / social /  etc... issues. What is worrying is that social care is being cut, the impact is increased dependence upon the NHS and other services and the last thirty years has seen the social contract torn up with piecemeal and patchy social support via neighbours, friends, family, parish, etc... We can argue as to why and how such a state of affairs has arisen but it doesn't detract from the current parlous situation that exists. For the latter, various media, politicos, blogs, etc... will blame right / left wings, the state, lack of religion, capitalism, ad infinitum... Ho hum... interesting times indeed.


Monday, January 06, 2014

After a few days of enforced rest my leg has improved and I am once again going out and about. The cats have enjoyed it because I am available as a comfortable bed although the dog has endured a lack of walks. Seeing the news and reading others' blogs about the astonishing weather conditions in the USA and Canada has made me grateful we have had a mild winter thus far. Temperatures as low as -50's Fahrenheit including the wind chill is astonishing. All I can say is keep warm and stay safe out there until it improves.

I have been following this furore regarding Michael Gove's article about the history of World War 1. It has been the usual bean feast with accusations flying in both directions. I suspect the "truth" will again be the first victim in this latest spat. The major European states prepared for war but blundered into a war they could not comprehend once the blue touch paper was lit in Sarajevo. Patriotism certainly played a major part in attracting many to participate but I do wonder how long that survived the slaughter, bloodshed and mud of the trenches amongst the ordinary Tommies and Fritzes. The generals and planners still extolled the benefits of cavalry and had ignored the lessons to be learned from the US civil war. Artillery, machine guns, mass slaughter and trench warfare had taken place during that conflict but the generals appear to have ignored those lessons. Whatever Gove says about Blackadder, the humour about General Melchard and his plan to walk slowly towards the enemy ( kicking a football ) over shell blasted mud, barbed wire and against machine guns spoke volumes about the pointless and needless slaughter of thousands of young men. The millions of words written since to justify a stupid war cannot erase that ultimately the war achieved little but did lead to another horrifying war a generation later. It also acted as midwife to the emergence of Fascist and Communist states. The recent pointless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan prove that politicians never change and the latter has lasted longer than both WW1 and 2 combined. What will these conflicts engender in the years to come? I do believe that reading and educating oneself about those conflicts rather than the point scoring bullshit of both left and right might be preferable although I may as well teach pigs to fly if I expect a reasonable informed debate about it all.
Anyhow, time for tea and then that long anticipated walk for the pooch.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

All I can say is "Bugger! A fine start to the new year".
I took the pooch out for a brisk walk yesterday and I can only blame myself for what happened next. An excruciating pain in my right leg, running from the lower calf to my heel. By the time I got home I couldn't weight bear on my right foot and I was leaning on walls, lamp posts, whatever was to hand. Not easy to do with an excitable and curious dog in tow. Ice applied, leg elevated and strapping applied. All my plans for yesterday gone awry and today was spent doing much the same. It is astonishing how being confined to home suddenly makes one realise how many other great things there are to do outside of home. Today, the pain has reduced and I can weight bear but I am being very cagey about what I will do and I am resting my leg as much as possible. With Mrs C. still recovering from her accident and my incident yesterday, we presented a wonderful sight limping slowly to Sainsbugs with the shopping trolley in tow. Never mind, feet up and no better excuse required to load up the kindle.