Monday, 22 December 2008

Return to Work

So it’s now official. I will be returning to work at the beginning of January, nearly six months after I was last at work. But even now I've had to deal with NHS bureaucracy.

At the beginning of December I had my outpatient’s appointment where I saw a Consultant Cardiologist who told me that it was fine for me to return to work. So I let work know and they let the Occupational Health Department know. The idea behind this, as far as I was aware, was that OH would see that I'd been cleared by a Consultant and rubber stamp my return to work.

But no! That would be far too simple. OH have insisted that I have to be seen by their Registrar before I can return to work, and knowing that my intention was to return to work at the beginning of January, they gave me an appointment for 23rd January!

Now this presented a bit of a problem. If you work for the NHS and are sick for a long period of time, then you will still get paid your full wage for the first six months that you are ill. After that, it drops to half pay for six months and then stops. My first six months is up on 10th January, which wouldn't have been a problem except for the fact that the OH Dept have given me such a late appointment, so I telephoned them and explained this to them.

Although I wasn't able to get an earlier appointment, there was a compromise solution. I could return to work at the beginning of January provided that my own GP approved (in addition to the Cardiologist who'd already said that it was fine!)

So I am returning to work at the beginning of January in a 'phased return', which means two mornings during the first week, three mornings during the second and five mornings during the third, the OH appointment being at the end of the third week.

But that wasn't the best bit. When I spoke to the OH advisor, she seemed to be under the impression that I had lost the use of my legs and was very concerned that I shouldn't walk anywhere! I had to remind her that although I had a CABG, I'm not the 'normal' age of people that do. So much for holistic and individual care!

However, between now and then, there is the start of quite an expensive time for family. Expensive not because of everyone get thousands of huge Xmas presents, because of the number of 'events'.

Tomorrow is Hannah's (m'Julie's daughter) birthday, then Christmas, then four weeks later is Maggie's (My daughter) birthday, followed two days later by mine, then two weeks later by m'Julie's.

So, in the meantime

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Exertion and Murder

As part of my recovery following the surgery, 8 weeks post-op I began cardiac rehab sessions at one of the local sports centres. This consists of an 8 week programme of lectures and exercises to assist people who have had either a heart attack or cardiac surgery.

The lecture part is fairly superfluous for me but the exercise is OK. However, it is done at a far gentler pace than I'm used to, and there's no-one screaming abuse, PTI style, at me. The first week that I attended I was paired up with one of the helpers, who unfortunately was about 30 years older than me. Not only did he keep telling me to slow down, but he also had to keep stopping to get his breath. Even explaining the age difference to him didn't seem to work, and he wouldn't have it. However, since then I've been allowed to get on with the exercises at my own pace. And once I've finished the 'programme', I'll be allowed to go to the gym proper.

This should be at about the time that I'll be going back to work. Although I do have to be cleared by my Occupational Health Department, I can't see it being a problem, although I do apparently have to take all of the annual leave that's accrued, as I've been off since early July, which may mean that although I am notionally at work in January, I may not physically be there until next July!

But first of all I've got to get Xmas and New Year out of the way. Unfortunately, I'm not the most festive of people, so I'll be glad when it’s all over. And the one thing that I won't be saying is that at least next year can't be worse, because I know that it can.

Having said that, at least next year is an odd-numbered year. The last few years, the even-numbered ones have been bad, whereas the odd-numbered ones have been good. For example, I discovered that I was separated, I had a girlfriend die, my mother died and my ex-wife abducted two of my children and vanished and I had my MIs and surgery, all during even-numbered years, but I met m'Julie and my divorce was finally settled during odd-numbered years. Watch now as it all goes pear-shaped next year just to prove my theory wrong!

Lastly, the murder. No, I didn't slot my ex, but what I did do was revisit the site of an old murder, are rather five. These five murders are probably the most famous murders, even though they occurred more than a century ago, mainly because the culprit was never found, although there have been many theories and many suggested perpetrators. They are, of course, the Jack the Ripper Murders, which were carried out in the East End of London during 1888.

I have read many of the books on the subject and, although I would never claim to be an expert, I do know a fair bit about it. As a treat, to make me feel better after everything that's happened, m'Julie arranged a while ago for us to attend one of the various guided tours of the area. The company that she went with are all Yeoman Warders, so are used to giving talks.

I have to say, I found the tour and the talk very interesting, and it was interesting to visit some of the places that I had only previously read about, but I did disagree at the end with the conclusion that the guide made as to who the culprit was. I also found that he was historically inaccurate in a couple of the things that he said, but a very enjoyable evening.

So now it’s that slow grind to Xmas, although I have got a couple of m'Julie's presents already, but as she reads this, I'm saying nothing!

Sunday, 23 November 2008

More recovery

This week I had to return to the London hospital for my outpatient appointment following the surgery in September. So it was the same trip that I had to make when I went for the pre-assessment, but this time m'Julie came with me.

My appointment was at 10.30, so we arrived for about then, but didn't rush as the usual thing is that there is always a wait. But not on this occasion. We arrived, m'Julie went off to the loo, and I was called in by the Senior Registrar that had withdrawn the 450mls of fluid when I'd had the first pleural effusion.

I was asked the usual questions and then examined, the upshot being that I was officially discharged from that hospital, although I was told that if there were any problems I should contact them.

After this, we went to the ward, where there was no-one working that I recognised, and then we saw the Cardiac Matron that I'd worked with and she took us to the meet with the other lass that I'd worked with.

m'Julie had a cunning plan for the day, which was one of the reasons that she came with me. She wanted to visit St Mary-at-Lambeth Church, which is now the Museum of Garden History. Her main reason for this was that Anne Boleyn's mother is buried in the churchyard. So, after the journey into London and a burger at Victoria station, we got the bus to the church.

Having paid our entry, I think m'Julie was a bit disappointed to learn that Elizabeth Boleyn's grave is no longer visible. However, there is the grave of the Tradescant's and Vice Admiral William Bligh. Apparently, Peter Dolland, the optician is also buried there, but ironically, I couldn't see where.

The museum is very small, so it didn't take long to get round, so we decided to visit the Florence Nightingale Museum, which is in the grounds of St Thomas' Hospital. Although I'd worked there for six years, I'd never visited the museum, so I found it quite interesting.

However, this wasn't the only day that we'd been out and about this week. m'Julie is a big fan of the Internet Movie Database, and likes to look up areas where programmes that she likes have been made, and to visit them. That's why she has photos of herself in the churchyard and pulpit used in The Vicar of Dibley, which was filmed in Buckinghamshire.

At least this time, it was nearer to home, as it was a village that had been used for two Agatha Christies, a Poirot and a Miss Marple, which had both used the village of Chilham near Canterbury.

Again, m'Julie was a bit disappointed as Chilham Manor, which apparently appeared a lot in the productions, couldn't be photographed very well, as the sun was low and directly behind the house.

In fact, we haven't had a lot of luck with our visits this week as we had planned to revisit Scotney Castle, ten weeks after our first attempt! However, we woke up this morning to snow, and m'Julie discovered that the actual castle had closed for the winter at the beginning of November, although the grounds were still open.

I'm starting to think that we're feted never to see the place!

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Social Injustice?

There has been much in the news recently about "Baby P". Baby P was a 17-month old boy, who it appears, was systematically, physically, abused by his mother, her boyfriend and a lodger, all of whom have been convicted of causing or allowing his death, although none were actually convicted of murder.

As a result of this, the Government has ordered that there should be an inquiry and review of Social Services and their practices, particularly in Haringey, an area of London, where this all happened. But what will this achieve.

In 2000, an 8-year old girl called Victoria Climbie died after suffering systematic abuse at the hands of her Guardians. The Government carried out an inquiry and review of Social Services and their practices, particularly in Haringey, where this all happened.

So what we are seeing is a child dies, there is a very expensive (£3.8m) public inquiry and the upshot is that less than eight years later, another child dies in the same Borough.

It has also transpired that there were several warnings prior to the latter child dying, when a Social Worker who had worked for Haringey wrote to the then health secretary. Nothing was done. And the Council's reaction when this piece of information came to light was to slap an injunction on the ex-Social Worker. Actions like that immediately make me think that someone has something to hide.

What we have seen is various senior council officials being wheeled out to apologise. But what will that achieve? Nothing. Their time would be better served investigating why there was this catastrophic failure in the first place, and, if appropriate, getting rid of the person whose fault it is. Having said that, I don't mean in a 'We have found a scapegoat and are getting rid of them' fashion, but doing so internally, only going public if it is found that criminal negligence was the cause, and then the person concerned will need to face the full force of the law.

However, I think that none of this will happen. No-one will lose their jobs, and no-one will face criminal charges, because I guess the same will happen now as happened in 2000, and will happen the next time some poor child is killed under the noses of a Social Services department. The department will close ranks and protect each other.

We've already seen union officials stating that Social Workers don't want to make mistakes, but are human and mistakes happen. True. But what about nurses. Making a mistake as a nurse can lead to that nurse being struck off. Or servicemen. Making a mistake as a soldier can lead to that soldier not only being dismissed the service, but also going to jail. Why should Social Workers be any different.

There is a reason for my stance. In 2006 my ex-wife absconded with two of my children, and refused me any contact whatsoever with them. It took me very little time to track them down as she was staying with her latest boyfriend at his house. Now the problem was that I knew that he was 'flagged' by Social Services, although I was unable establish why. I therefore contacted his local Social Services and was greeted with total indifference. The only time that I was able to get any other response was when I suggested that their department was no better than the one that had allowed Victoria Climbie to die.

At this point, the Social Worker with whom I was talking became very annoyed, started shouting and threatened to report me to the Police for harassing them, because I phoned very regularly. I countered by informing them that I had taken the names of every Social Worker that I had spoken to and would go to the press, naming all of them, in revealing their incompetence unless something was done to ensure the safety of my children.

It was after this conversation that I started to receive regular updates on the children's welfare from Social Services because they began visiting them, at home and at school, on a weekly basis.

However, I should never have had to resort to this to ensure the safety of my children. Making Social Workers properly professional, by having properly trained and accountable Registered Social Workers, may reduce the incidences of child deaths as a result of abuse.

It also appears that another Social Services department have been negligent in their duties, in this case Brighton. This year a man was convicted of murdering his wife. Her body was found in a car roof box in the back garden. His young daughter became increasingly upset about the disappearance of her mother, and was able to speak to one of her teachers. The teacher, following procedure, informed the local Social Services, who treated her concern with utter indifference (pattern emerging?) Eventually, some weeks later, a Social Worker did visit the house, Police were called and the husband arrested. Fortunately, the daughter suffered no physical harm.

Sadly, the only question now is how long before we hear about the next child that has died as a result of abuse.

Thursday, 13 November 2008


As I said at the end of the entry before last, I spent last weekend in the delightful town of Dover, visiting my old school, but more importantly meeting up with friends old and new, some of whom I hadn't seen for years.

Unfortunately, things didn't go completely according to plan. As you are all aware, Hannah had been in hospital the day before we were due to go and there had been some question as to whether we would actually be going or not. However, m'Julie decided that she would be going.
At least she did until we actually set off and were about ten miles from home when she decided that she wanted to actually stay with Hannah and I had to turn around.

I was then unsure as to whether I would actually go, as I was uncomfortable at the prospect so soon following the surgery, and I had a total sense of humour failure.

However, I did go, but because of the delay, I had to make my way there in the dark and rain, which did not help my mood improve. I got there about an hour later than planned and made my way to the hotel, which had been chosen as it does a special deal for the Old Boys.

A little bit about the hotel. The hotel is located on the main road to the Port of Dover. It was obviously built in the 1960s, as this was when that much concrete would have been popular, and it is unlikely that it will be there in a year's time, as that part of Dover is apparently being re-developed and all the concrete monstrosities are being pulled down, which also means that many of the pubs that I used to frequent as a (possibly underage) teenager are also to disappear.
I'd never stayed in the hotel before, but many years ago had sat in the bar during the early hours of a Remembrance Sunday with others who were, but my memories of the place were befuddled owing to the alcohol that we'd consumed, but not to the extent that my memories of it being somewhat 'basic' were completely wiped out.

When I actually booked in, I was immediately convinced that I had been set-up, as I was handed my key and discovered that I was booked into Room 101! At this point, I was joined by Neil and Sean, fresh from the Rugby Club, who also suspected a set-up when they found out my room number.

Room 101 turned out to be a family room, and unfortunately, even though m'Julie had decided not to attend, I was still charged full price. Being a family room meant that in addition to the double bed, there was also a set of bunk beds, located directly in front of the heater. These bunk beds were very heavy, and due to the events of 7 weeks ago, I was unable to move them and so get to the heater and turn it on. This was unfortunate, as there was a sliding 'patio-type' door next to this, which rather than opening onto a balcony, opened onto what can only be described as a fenced-in ledge. I'm sure that at some point the door would have fitted the frame, but sadly, that is no longer the case. The wind whistling across the Channel blows through all of the cracks, making the room colder, and I was to later discover that the other disadvantage to this was that all traffic passing along the busy road to and from the docks could be heard very clearly in the room.

Having dumped all my stuff in the room, I made my way downstairs and bumped into Dave, whom I hadn't seen for a few years, so we sat in the lobby reminiscing and looking out for familiar faces as they arrived. We then heard rumours that two of the people that we'd been waiting for, Stan and H were already upstairs in their rooms, so we decided to visit, disturbing H's watching of Strictly Come Dancing. We also made the mistake of deciding to gate crash Neil's room. Unfortunately, minutes before we arrived, he had obviously visited the bathroom. Now whether it was something he'd eaten or not, we don't know, but we were all forced to beat a hasty retreat to Sean's room.

Now what's happened over the last few years, although I haven't been able to get there due to Squadron commitments, is that Stan and H put on a private party in a pub, and this year was no exception.

The pub in question is located in the area that is to be 're-developed', and in fact has been closed for some time, only opening for our entertainment on Saturday. It had also been burgled a few days before and the keys to the patio doors had been taken so Neil was a little concerned about fire regulations.

Stan had done a superb job and the karaoke was already going when we arrived, and it wasn't long before the few of us that had arrived were joined by many many more, and the pub was soon packed, and the chilli that was served at about 9 was gratefully received.

However, the big disadvantage was that it was impossible to speak to anyone as the music was so loud, which meant that I spent much of the evening by the door, particularly when Alex, whom I hadn't seen since 1992, arrived.

In fact, the last time that Alex and I had seen each other was when he was at my eldest son's christening in Exeter, so he was somewhat surprised to hear that that baby is now doing A-Levels with the intention of joining the Army.

Although I was enjoying myself and catching up with people, the events of this year soon caught up with me, and at 10.30 my body let me know that it was way past my bedtime, and I had to retire back to the hotel.

Once back at the hotel, I discovered a couple of other minor problems with my room, as before getting into bed I had to trawl the room for every pillow, there being only one very very thin pillow per person, and when I had made my coffee and settled into bed to watch some TV before going to sleep, I discovered that the remote control didn't work.

Even when I'd settled down I couldn't sleep as the room was very cold, the bedding inadequate, and the traffic very loud. Despite going to bed before 11, I was awake until after 1am.

My call at 8 woke me up, and I discovered the big advantage over previous years. Normally, these affairs are very alcoholic, and although for most people this year was no exception, for me, who had been drinking coke for most of the night it meant that I was fresh and awake when I woke up, without the slightest trace of a headache.

At this point I discovered that the hotel had also obviously been designed with 'little people' in mind, as I had to kneel to get under the fixed shower head. However, breakfast was good, even if my companions were all feeling a little sorry for themselves.After breakfast, it was off to the school and meeting up with more people that I hadn't seen for some time, before parading up to the cenotaph for the Last Post and two-minutes silence, and then the march past, which proved that although some of those parading had left the school before I was born, we could all still march better than most of the kids that are currently at the school.

As I did for most of my time at school, I avoided chapel (too much risk of lightening strike) and retired to the assembly hall for coffee and more remembering, although I have to say that the turnout from our year was quite disappointing (less than 10% according to Stan), which is born out by the 'Class Photo'.

l-r Alex, Tones, Adi, Stan, Dave, Carlton, Me

We then made our way to a local pub for lunch before the journey home. I was also able to warn them all about the bread sauce! The last time that I had been in this pub was last year when m'Julie and I had taken the kids to Deal Castle. We had decided to have a Sunday lunch at the carvery in the pub. After getting the meat and veg, there were sauces, including what appeared to be bread sauce. Now I love bread sauce, so helped myself with a will. It was only when we had all sat down and I took the first mouthful of my dinner that I discovered that it was a strong horseradish rather than bread sauce.

After we'd had lunch it was time to say goodbye. It’s very strange, as although most of us communicate on a daily basis, by phone, text or t'internet, this is usually the only weekend that we're all together. We were also aware that there were many of our friends who were absent, for whatever reason, and they were also in our thoughts, particularly those in warm sandy places.

I'm lucky, as, apart from Dave, I am probably the nearest, which is just as well, as when I got home, my first stop was bed, and I slept for most of the afternoon and early evening (comfortable and warm!) and still slept on Sunday night.

The days since then have been recuperation days, and I've done nothing too strenuous, mainly catching up on the recorded programmes, although I did watch the service from the Cenotaph on Tuesday.

Three of the four surviving British veterans of the First World War were present, Bill Stone representing the Royal Navy, Harry Patch representing the Army and Henry Allingham representing the Royal Air Force, the youngest being 108, the oldest 112. I did find it rather sad to see Henry Allingham, struggling unsuccessfully to lay his own wreath. Apparently, he had been determined to do so, despite being the oldest, but eventually he had to relent and allow it to be laid on his behalf.

Again, it will be busy this weekend as Drew and Maggie are staying from tomorrow evening, although, as I'm picking up Wrath of the Lich King for Drew tomorrow, I probably won't see much of him.

Just before I go, I must thank Stan for allowing me to use the still photos that you see, as I'm in none of the photos that I took, and also to Neil for filming on Sunday when I was parading.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

90 Years On

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead.
Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep,though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

John McCrae, May 1915

In Memory Of
S/4206 Private JOSEPH WATT
1st Bn., Seaforth Highlanders
who died
on 10 April 1916 aged 19

Remembered with honour


In Memory Of
S/8909 Serjeant THOMAS McIVOR
9th Bn., Black Watch (Royal Highlanders)
who died
on 29 April 1916 aged 30

Remembered with honour

Friday, 7 November 2008

Return to normality?

This week has been a bit of a return to normality, starting last Friday. I had an appointment for a chest x-ray at the hospital where I work. However, earlier in the week, I'd had a phone call from one of the Charge Nurses. He had been assigned the task of meeting with a rep to discuss the possibility of purchasing new laryngoscopes, but wanted someone there from my department. I gave him my boss's number, but he was unavailable, and as I was in the hospital anyway, I ended up attending the meeting.

I also ended up walking up and down the hill into town three times, once for m'Julie, once for myself and once to get the train home. It wasn't until I got home that I realised just how tiring all this was, as I could hardly keep my eyes open and was ready for bed by 7!
The next return to normality was on Monday. Monday was six weeks since my surgery, which meant that I was able to drive again. It felt strange at first, but it doesn't take long to get back into it. First trip was to pick m'Julie up from work, which worked out well as it was very cold and very wet.

Tuesday was again spent 'at work' as I went up to the other hospital to meet with my boss and colleagues and have lunch. I was also able to drop into my Squadron and confirm that I'd be at the opening of the new bar the following day (normality No. 4!)

Although I was collared and tied on Wednesday evening, I did feel a little under dressed as all the other Officers were in service dress. However, it was a pleasant evening and I had my first beer since pre-op! Just looking forward to parading normally again in January.

Yesterday evening was Hannah's (m'Julie's daughter) open evening at school. She was quite nervous about it, which she needn't have been, as all the teachers that we saw were full of praise for her. Even maths, which came as no surprise to me, but did to Hannah, who has always said that maths is her worst subject and that she's useless at maths despite m'Julie and me telling her otherwise. Now Hannah has to believe it, having been told by her maths teacher.

However, when Hannah got home last night she seemed shattered and had fallen asleep by 7.30. Unfortunately, she was awake again at 11.30 and vomiting.

Hannah has suffered from cyclical vomiting for some time and on the three previous occasions that she has had it since I've known her, has always ended up in hospital needing IV rehydration. And on each of those occasions, she has been in hospital for at least 24 hours, except when she spent nearly two weeks in, but that was due to a numpty Registrar who, despite being told he was wrong and all the evidence proving he was wrong, insisted that she had an infection and kept her in for IV antibiotics.

So at 6 this morning m'Julie woke me up and I telephoned the on-call GP, informed them that I wouldn't be taking Hannah to see her when she actually needed to be seen by the paediatricians and then spoke to the paediatric Registrar and took her into the hospital.

When we got there, Hannah was as ill as she normally is, but the hospital took a different approach to her management. Rather than the usual cannulation, fluids and IV drugs, this time they gave Hannah an anti-emetic suppository.

Normally, it takes Hannah 12-24 hours before she starts feeling well, but today, she slept for a couple of hours and when she woke up, not only was she drinking, but she kept it down, to the extent that this afternoon, she was discharged. Now we just have to go to the GP and get some of these suppositories so that in future, when she has attacks, we can deal with them earlier.

So after such a busy week, I should be having a relaxing weekend, but I'm not. This weekend is Remembrance Weekend, and the school that I went to has an Old Boys (and girls) reunion every year on this weekend. For the first time in about ten years, I'm going, although it will be a lot less alcoholic than normal for me, and this will be m'Julie's first experience.

So watch this space for the photos and videos from the weekend, probably published early next week.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Am I Becoming 'Disgusted of Paddock Wood'?

As regular readers will know, I've been off work for some time and one of the ways in which I pass the time when m'Julie is a work is with the television. I don't purely watch DVDs, but have kept up to date with (fairly) current affairs by watching the BBC News channel.

Generally, I find their coverage very good and better than most of the other available sources, although I am at a loss at the present time about the Ross and Brand affair. Whilst I agree that what they did was unacceptable, I fail to see, with everything else that is going on in the world, why they are receiving so much coverage on the news programmes, being the lead story on most.

However, that is not why I think that I am becoming 'Disgusted' (20 months ago, I could have been Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells, but now I'll have to settle for Paddock Wood).

In the UK there is a man called Jack Straw, who is currently the Lord Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Justice. Three days ago he gave a speech to the Royal Society of Arts, covering Punishment and Reform which received lots of publicity as it was allegedly him complaining about 'cushy prisons'.

In a nutshell he seems to be saying that although we shouldn't return to the old days where prisons were dingy revolting places with prisoners forced to slop out, it should not be forgotten that prisons are the severest form of punishment available to the British justice system, the removal of the offenders liberty being the punishment, with an emphasis being on rehabilitation and education of offenders as well as assistance in dealing with drug problems. He also states that the victims of crime should not be forgotten, which appears to be happening as far as penal reformers are concerned.

At the time that this speech was being publicised, there was also a lot in the media about the fact that in many prisons the prisoners have access to satellite television and games consoles in their cells. Whether this is true or not, I cannot say as these were tabloid headlines, and I think we all know how reliable tabloid journalists are/n't. However, Mr Straw did talk of an unacceptable Halloween Party taking place in a prison.

So, putting my 'D of PW' head on, where do I stand? I think that our biggest problem with the justice system in this country is sentencing. Last week, a man was convicted of murdering his 16-month old daughter. She was malnourished and had been badly abused before he finally put her over his knee and snapped her spine in two. His sentence was life imprisonment and he was told that he must serve at least 22 years. WRONG! I firmly believe that if a person is sentenced to life imprisonment, then they should serve at least life imprisonment. This man should, as we no longer hang murderers, remain in prison until he dies, not be walking the streets again when he is 47 years of age.

In exactly the same way, I firmly believe that if a person is sentenced to 3 months or 10 years, they should serve 3 months or 10 years, no parole, no time off for good behaviour. If you don't want to do the time, don't do the crime.

In many American states, they operate a 'three strikes and you're out' policy. Anyone who commits offences that would result in their being jailed on three separate occasions automatically receives a life sentence on that third occasion, which is something that I would like to see operate in this country.

I know that there will be certain penal reformers that will feel this is wrong and that I must be a terrible person, but I haven't finished there.

Prisoners must be identifiable as such and should therefore wear a uniform that clearly identifies them, even those serving life whom I believe are currently allowed to wear their own clothes. There is a prison in the US where the local Sheriff insists that his prisoners wear everything, tops, bottoms, underwear, in pink. Degrading, perhaps, but they can be easily identified as prisoners.

I also believe that those serving non-custodial sentences should be made to wear a uniform that identifies them when they are litter-picking or scrubbing graffiti, or whatever their punishment is. If they don't like it, the simple answer is don't commit the offence that gets you put in that situation.

Once serving a sentence, prisoners must abide by the rules. In the press there is much made of the fact that illegal mobile phone use is rife in prisons. The simple answer is that there is technology available that will jam all mobile phone signals in a limited area. This should be installed in prisons. Any prisoners who still attempt to use mobile telephones and are caught automatically have one year added to their sentence for each offence, even if their original sentence was only three months. If this doesn't discourage the practice, I would be very surprised.

Drugs are also apparently a major problem in all prisons and Mr Straw states that as many as 13% of new inmates enter prison with a drug problem. In this situation, all those with a problem must be given rehabilitation to wean them off the drugs. However, once they are weaned off the drugs all prisoners must be subject to weekly drug tests. If they fail they are punished, the punishment would be dependent upon the type of drug for which they have tested positive. Sentences will be the same as for possession of that class of drug, because to test positive the prisoner must have been in possession of the drug. Testing positive for a Class A drug will result in 7 years being added to the prisoner’s sentence for each offence, Class B will result in 5 years being added to the prisoner’s sentence for each offence and Class C will result in 2 years being added to the prisoner’s sentence for each offence.

As for conditions within prisons, I strongly agree that we must not return to the days of slopping out, but it must be remembered that prison is a punishment. At present, many prisoners live in conditions better than British soldiers serving on operational tours. Whilst there is the argument that the soldiers have volunteered to serve, so they cannot complain, I would argue that the prisoners have volunteered to be imprisoned by committing the offence, so also have no cause for complaint.

Satellite television, gone, games consoles, gone, communal television rooms with limited hours and a communal games room, yes, perhaps even a small gym so that prisoners can keep themselves fit, but definitely a 'no frills' approach. Prisoners would also be expected to work, however, at present I believe that they earn a few pence for any work that they do. I believe that this practice should stop. Any profit made from their work should be ploughed back into the prison. If the prisoners want 'pocket money', this would be provided by their families, no more than £10.00 per week, for them to buy what they need.

There was also a report recently of one prison where the prisoners were unhappy about the conditions and the authorities were concerned that there may be an outbreak of violence among the prisoners. To this I have a simple solution. There is a radio DJ in this country who, as one of his features, does a quiz whilst wearing an electronic dog collar on his arm. Every time he gets a question wrong, he gets zapped, the force increasing each time.

So why not make all prisoners wear something similar, although impossible to remove. If they wish to take part in disorder, then they get zapped. If they escape, then there would be an area around the perimeter of the prison that if they step outside they get zapped. It may seem harsh, but no more so than the Tasers issued to most UK Police forces.

The only concern may be that there would be some prison officers who would inappropriately use these devices, so for that reason there would have to be very senior authorisation, although still within the penal establishment, perhaps the Governor, who would give this authorisation, with very severe penalties, from dismissal to imprisonment, for inappropriate use.

The other thing that has been in the news very recently is that the Home Office has decided to make it more difficult for extremists to enter the UK, particularly those that intend to preach hatred.

The UK is a multi-cultural country, which I believe must always be the case. However, I also believe that although we are a multi-cultural country, it is essential that those that have entered the country from abroad must respect the laws and traditions of this country, in exactly the same way as I or m'Julie would be expected to do in certain countries, rather than demanding, in some cases, that the law be altered to fit in with their beliefs or that their form of law be allowed to run alongside British Law be it Halakha, Sharia or any other form of law. I firmly believe that in Britain, we should be subject to and abide by purely to British Law. If there is anyone that wishes to be subject to other forms of law, they should move to a country where that law is practised.

A good example is the couple that were recently convicted in Dubai. The lawyers argue that the Judge believed that they were innocent of the charge of having sexual intercourse in public, but were guilty of kissing in public.

If they were in this country, kissing in public is not an offence, but in Dubai, which operates Sharia Law, it is. I find it extremely difficult to believe that these people were not briefed prior to commencing work in Dubai, so they have no grounds to complain. Ignorance is no excuse in any case. If you can't do the time, don't do the crime. They should also remember that under Sharia Law they could have been subject to corporal punishment, so they got off lightly.

However, returning to my original point about it being more difficult for extremist preachers of hatred to enter the country. I believe that freedom of speech is important. But, like most of Europe, there are certain things which go beyond the 'Freedom of Speech' umbrella. Holocaust Denial is illegal in most European countries. In this country, it is an offence to incite racial hatred. However, we still see it happen and no-one act on it. There are what can only be described as neo-Nazi speakers in this country who advocate a 'white only' Britain. Unfortunately, at present, I believe that not enough is being done to curb these extremists. We have also seen Islamic extremists preaching in this country, and although more has been done to curb these people, more could still be done.

The new law that is to be introduced will name and shame these people, their names will be shared with other countries, and they will be denied entry to this country. However, that does not deal with the home-grown extremists who are already here. Perhaps the Government should act more forcibly on those that preach hatred against a person because their skin colour is different or because they have a different religion and those that issue death threats to a Muslim woman who has painted a self-portrait wearing a hijab and cradling a piglet.

The last thing to have 'got me going' is illegal immigration.

In the UK, we have a large immigrant population, almost all of whom entered the country legally and with permission. The majority are working to earn their keep and are useful members of society.

However, I recently watched a programme about the UK Border Agency. I was amazed to find out first of all the number of people that attempt to enter the UK illegally as well as the number that actually succeed. I was also amazed to find out that even if an illegal immigrant is discovered, if he or she has no passport, they cannot be deported. So what seems to be happening was demonstrated in the programme. In this instance it was a Nigerian who had entered the country legally on a tourist visa. That visa had expired 2 years prior to his arrest by the Border Agency. He informed them that his passport had been sent back to Nigeria. Therefore, until new travel documents could be obtained for this man from the Nigerian High Commission, he has to be allowed to remain in this country. Because there are limited custodial places for illegal immigrants, and only those that are considered a risk are locked up, he was released and told that he must report on a weekly basis to the Border Agency. He reported once and was not seen again. There's a surprise.

The simple solution would be that all immigrants are placed on ships within UK waters, perhaps old cruise ships, that are due to be broken up, but somewhere where they could have suitable accommodation. Each person would receive a 24-hour ration pack daily (If they're good enough for British troops on operation they must be good enough for people who have illegally entered the UK). The advantage is this. On occasion, there have been cases of immigrants setting fire to their detention centres. If they are on a ship that is two miles out, starting a fire is not a good idea as they are unlikely to survive. Also, if they still try it, all fire lighting equipment is taken away, as the rations can be eaten hot or cold.

It would be interesting to see how quickly these people sort out their travel documents and are asking to return to their country of origin in these circumstances. And when they are deported, the bill is then sent to the appropriate High Commission/Embassy, as why should the British tax payer meet the bill.

The same would apply to asylum seekers. Whilst there are many genuine cases, there are also many that seek asylum to avoid deportation, again seen on the programme, as the Nigerian, once caught and told that he would be sent back to Nigeria when he had travel documents, immediately suggested that he may claim asylum as he feared for his life in Nigeria because of a family feud.

Even those that enter the country legally as immigrants would have to meet certain criteria. No job/means of supporting themselves, no entry. I would also not allow them to claim benefits for at least five years post entry. If they lose/resign from their job prior to that 5 years and are unable to support themselves, they must return to their country of origin and reapply.

So there it is, my 'manifesto'. Am I turning into Disgusted of Paddock Wood, am I becoming an extremist or do I just have way too much time on my hands?

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Recovery and Trauma

So I've been home for two weeks and the good news is that I've even managed to avoid being re-admitted to any hospital. However, the frustration remains and was brought home to me on the first Monday that I was home. I had to go to the surgery to have a blood test. The surgery is just over half a mile from home, and the first day that I walked it, it took 15 minutes and when I arrived I was wheezing like an an asthmatic at a burlesque show. However, that has gradually improved and I can now do it in 5 minutes and I wheeze a lot less.

The sleep pattern is also settling down. Initially I was finding that no matter what time I went to bed, I was wide awake between 4 and 6.30am. I am not a morning person, and until recently had always believed that there was only one 7 o'clock in a twenty-four hour period, so these early morning awakenings were not well received. Often it was as a result of discomfort (pain would be too strong a word), although again there is now pain which will be investigated when I have an x-ray next week.

I have had regular phone calls from Stan, who always manages to cheer me up, among others and I am slowly getting back to 'normal'. I even took a trip into Tunbridge Wells yesterday to meet m'Julie from work.

But the thing that has had the biggest effect on my recovery was last weekend, when Maggie and Drew came to stay for the weekend. Obviously, I'm still not allowed to drive, and m'Julie doesn't drive, so she had to negotiate with my ex about the children being dropped off, which she did on the Saturday, collecting them again on the Sunday. Oddly, my ex now refuses to communicate with me at all, and has even told the children that she doesn't have my telephone number, although until recently she seemed to be able to send me text messages. Personally, I find this quite amusing and completely pathetic, but then she is very unstable.

It was quite a surprise for me. Drew, who had been quite upset when he saw me in hospital, seemed much less concerned and carried on as normal, but Maggie, who had been completely the opposite when she had seen me in hospital, was clearly very affected by everything that had happened and was very cuddly all weekend, not that I'm complaining. However, it was still very difficult to say goodbye to them on the Sunday and allow them to return to their mother.

However, they are being dropped off again tomorrow and going back Tuesday as its half term and will be here again next weekend.

So now its a case of just taking each day as it comes. I still need to have an afternoon sleep on some days, but not every day, I'm able to walk greater distances (even if I did have to stop once on the hill up from the station in Tunbridge Wells yesterday) and people tell me that I'm looking much better, so I 'must' be.
I also now have a date to start my cardiac rehab (10th November) by which stage I'll be driving again and have been to Dover to the Old Boys reunion.

And the trauma? The evening before I was discharged from the London hospital I decided to watch a bit of television. Imagine the trauma I experienced when I saw this

Who'd have thought it? Sell out perhaps? I thought that I'd had to many drugs at first, and nearly had a relapse!

Monday, 20 October 2008

A Busy Month Part 4: The Home Straight

Not a great deal was achieved on the Sunday after I was admitted, although I did discover that the incompetent SHO had, when clerking me, written that I had discharged myself from the London hospital. Later in the week I got the opportunity to put him right on the matter, as a result of which I am sure that he will be very much more careful about the accuracy of what he writes in patient notes in the future.
On the Monday, I changed consultant from the one who had been on-call for the weekend to one of the cardiologists, although I was only to see him on the one day as he was attending a medical conference (golfing jolly) in Biarritz, and I was passed on to his fellow cardiologist (who was the one who told me that it was a golfing jolly).
I was also sent off to have the first of the radiological examinations, which in this case was an ultrasound. This showed that I had a small pleural effusion, which contradicted the X-ray, which showed a moderate amount. However, the radiologist explained that on X-ray, areas of collapsed lung can appear as an effusion. She also told me that the amount of effusion that was present was unlikely to be drainable.
The downside of everything that was going on was that I was regularly spiking pyrexias, making me feel really unwell. However, IV paracetamol is, in my opinion, the best thing since sliced bread.
One good thing was my visitors. m'Julie had tried to negotiate with my ex-wife that the children could visit me on the Sunday, but my ex had refused as there was some sort of churchy thing going on. However, she did agree to their visiting on the Monday for an hour, so from 4 to 5 I had the pleasure of Drew and Maggie visiting.
The evening and night was to prove much less agreeable. The ward where I was was supposed to be a male ward, however, the female ward was full and a certain amount of 'overflow' had found its way to the male ward, including a woman who I would say was in her fifties and had the definite look of someone who liked more than just the occasional drink, and who was opposite me.
Unfortunately, she chose that Monday to lose it completely, perhaps, a la Father Jack, all the alcohol had finally left her system. She became abusive to the staff and patients, made several attempts to escape, succeeding on one occasion and being brought back having collapsed outside A&E. Following the collapse, and her being brought back to the ward, there was then the debate about what should be done.
When I was a student and also first qualified and working on wards, patients could be sedated, even against their will, if the medical and nursing staff agreed that it was in the best interest of the patient concerned or the other patients in the ward with them. However, it now appears that no matter how mad the patient is, to sedate them may be a breach of their human rights, even if not to do so results in their physically or verbally attacking a fellow patient.
So I lay in bed listening to the various junior doctors, nurses and site practitioners debating what to do whilst the security guards kept an eye on the shouting madwoman who at this point was convinced that everybody, staff and patients, was plotting to kill her, and only her friend Emma, whom she, and she alone, could see further up the ward could save her, resulting in her screaming 'Emma, I'm here' at the top of her lungs.
The staff even tried oral medication. I did point out to them that I didn't think it would work, but they asked the madwoman if she would take some pills and she said yes. They gave her the pills and she threw them as far down the ward as she could, accusing the staff of trying to poison her. Surely I can't have been the only one that had seen this outcome.
Eventually the decision was made to sedate her, and there then followed the debate of who would actually inject her, as all seemed to be frightened that they may be putting their registration on the line by doing so. Just as I was about to say 'Give me the bloody syringe and I'll do it,' someone had the courage to inject her. But it didn't end there, as the madwoman made one last attempt to escape via the (very loudly alarmed) fire exit before finally settling down.
The following day, the madwoman had settled and I was sent for a CT Scan to confirm the location of the effusion. After the scan had been performed, the Radiographers came into the scan room and asked me about the surgery that I'd had, specifically whether I'd had abdominal as well as thoracic surgery. I knew where this was going and decided to have a bit of fun, and pointed out that I'd only had the thoracic surgery. When they asked if I'd had previous surgery I confirmed this, and added that if they were looking for my spleen, it had been removed 20 years ago. Cue sighs of relief all round, as they couldn't find it and were concerned that it may have ruptured, which was why I had the pain and they couldn't find it.
The CT Scan also showed that I did indeed have quite a small pleural effusion, and the decision was taken that it should be drained under radiological guidance.
That evening my eldest son visited, although he seemed to spend most of his time instructing the staff that they should give me a hard time. However, they apparently pointed out to him that they wouldn't do that as at some point I would be back at work, and would therefore be in a position to get my revenge.
Wednesday day passed off uneventfully, however, there was more entertainment in the evening. There had been a man admitted, in his fifties, who looked like a drinker, and whose legs were apparently completely paralysed.
Possibly years of experience helped, but watching this man's behaviour during the course of the evening, I knew what was going to happen. I even said to the staff that I thought that not only was he going to go loopy overnight, but I would bet them any money that he would re-discover the use of his paralysed legs.
Sure enough, by 11pm, this man was shouting about the fact that everybody was plotting to kill him (why is it that alcoholics become so paranoid and convinced that everyone wants to kill them when the alcohol wears off), and by the early hours, in an almost miraculous move, he had indeed re-discovered the use of his legs. Unfortunately, the on-call doctors did not have the courage of their colleagues from the Monday night and did not do anything, so the rest of the patients were subjected to this man's paranoid delusional shouting for the remainder of the night and much of the following day. In fact, the following day, his legs had recovered to such an extent that he could walk several yards before crashing to the floor. Again, the staff are not allowed to restrain patients, and other than telling this man to sit down, they could not prevent him from going walkabout and falling over, they could only fill out the incident reports afterwards.
On the Thursday, the decision was made to drain my effusion under radiological guidance, so I was off to the X-ray department, where a spinal needle, under ultrasound guidance, was inserted into the centre of the effusion and an attempt at drainage was made.
Sadly, the result was severe pain for me and approximately 1ml drained. It appeared that what had been an effusion was now a haematoma, and the only thing for it was to leave it to reabsorb on its own.
Back on the ward I was feeling very much better, even though only 1ml had been drained, but mainly because I hadn't spiked a temperature since the early hours of that morning.
However, the evening and night threatened to be a repeat of the previous evening and night with the madman. So, because I was so tired, as were the other patients, and prior to going to bed I informed the nurses and doctors that myself and the other patients were not prepared to tolerate another sleepless night, and that if they didn't have the balls to make the decision I was sure that I could find someone who did have, and if necessary I would be happy to personally administer any medication that was prescribed. This man was sedated and myself and the remainder of the patients got a good night's sleep.
The following morning, on the ward round, I was told that I could go home. Whilst this was the best news that I could have had, the downside was that m'Julie, Hannah, her friend and her friend's daughter had gone to Lincolnshire the previous day to a Pumpkin Festival, and they weren't coming home until the Saturday. However, m'Julie's mum agreed to be at the house until m'Julie got back.
Next was the question of transport home, and here I was very lucky, as one of the ward staff very kindly offered to give me a lift home.
So at 3pm, armed with a small pharmacy, I made my way out of the hospital to the car park and by 3.30 was sat on the sofa at home having a cup of coffee and catching up on the rest of the Sky+'d stuff.

m'Julie was home at 3.30pm on the Saturday, and I was able to settle in and concentrate on recovery, even if that did mean going to bed at 9pm, getting up at 6am, having an afternoon nap and generally behaving like a geriatric (remember, I moderate all comments!). At least I was home!

Sunday, 19 October 2008

When The Wife Doesn't Listen

I got sent this by a friend. It appealed to my odd sense of humour and I thought I just had to share it. Enjoy.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

A Busy Month Part 3: The 'Fun' Continues

Despite the fact that I had felt so good after the kids had visited, the next couple of days were to be fairly miserable. When I had been transferred back into the HDU, I really had felt so bad that I was sure that I wasn't going to get out of the hospital. When I look back on it, I wasn't actually that unwell, the evidence being that a. I didn't need to be re-ventilated at any time, b. At no time was I transferred to the intensive care unit and c. At no time did I require inotropes.
In the early hours of the Monday morning I woke up. I had severe pain in the lower left side and I couldn't get my breath. I was helped out of bed and into a chair, and as I moved, I experienced the most excruciating pain that I have ever experienced in the whole of my left side, and again I couldn't get my breath. Even with the CPAP in-situ, it was some time before I was able to breathe anywhere near normally
This continued for the entire day, with another severe bout of the breathlessness and pain at lunchtime. Fortunately for me, the Cardiac Matron witnessed this episode and got things moving. Before long, I was given a large dose of painkillers and an x-ray was performed that confirmed that I had a pleural effusion. Therefore the decision was taken that ultrasound would be performed and there would be attempts to drain the effusion.
A radiologist performed the ultrasound and marked the 'best' access point for drainage, then one of the surgeons decided he'd have a go at drainage. So, an hour later, and having stuck approximately eight needles into my back, he had managed to drain off 80mls of fluid.
Although it doesn't sound like much, it was a significant enough amount that it improved my breathing and lessened the amount of pain that I was experiencing, which meant that I had a much better night.
The following morning, one of the other surgeons arrived with a portable ultrasound and informed me that he, too, was going to have a go. Having ultrasounded and injected local anaesthetic, he then proceeded to insert one needle and start to drain the effusion. Forty-five minutes and several syringe changes later, he'd drained 450mls of fluid. If I'd thought that the 80mls made a difference, this last lot made a huge amount of difference, and I felt absolutely brilliant. However, the downside to all this was that I had to start on intravenous antibiotics and suffer all of the side effects that go with them.
The other thing that I found rather strange was the number of visitors that I received during the course of the week. Some travelled long distances and some I hadn't seen for a while. Whilst I was extremely grateful to see all of them, I couldn't understand why they were visiting, and also why they were so surprised to find me either sitting out or, in one case, not in the HDU because I was out in the toilet. It was almost as if their expectation was that I was on my last legs.
A little later in the week, I was to find out why. It transpired that my ex-wife had taken it upon herself to telephone all of our old friends, including those in the States, to inform them that I was seriously ill, in imminent danger of dying, and if they wanted to say goodbye, they'd better get in quick whilst I was still around. The payback. Here was I, feeling much better, with all these people visiting and expecting me to die.
In fact, following the drainage, I was feeling much better to the extent that on the Thursday I was fit enough to be transferred out of the HDU and back into the main ward. Yes, I was still a little breathless, and yes, I was still a bit sore, but compared to the week previously, I was 100% better. In fact, I began to think about going home.
The thoughts of home increased overnight on the Thursday night. Unfortunately, the Hobbit was on duty. This meant that I had to be on the ball as it was me that needed to remind him when I was due my medication, including the doses of IV antibiotics. In fact the evening one that was due at 10pm wasn't given until I reminded him at 1am. When I asked him why it hadn't been given at the correct time, I was informed that it was because 'You looked asleep' and he seemed unable to grasp the concept of whether I was asleep or not, the dose should still have been given. I started to realise that if I remained in the general ward, there was a distinct possibility that, through omission, the staff could cause further harm.
The following morning, because I was feeling much better, I informed the doctors that I wished to be discharged. Provisionally, they agreed, the provisions being that I would need another chest x-ray and also prove that I could mobilise without keeling over. So, as soon as I'd had my shower, I headed off to the shop.
The biggest surprise was when I stepped outside. This was on 3rd October, and was the first time that I'd been outside since 17th September, over two weeks previously. The drop in temperature in that period of time came as quite a shock.
Having walked down the stairs to the shop, I cheated and got the lift up the two floors. By the time I got back to the ward I was a little breathless but I had proved that I could mobilise about the hospital (I'd walked to another wing to get my first decent coffee in two weeks) without keeling over and dying. That box was ticked.
Next was the chest x-ray. This showed that there was still a small pleural collection but that it was too small to be drained. Next box ticked.
Some of the junior doctors were a little unhappy that the registrar had agreed to discharge me, and made their feelings plain. However, I was supported by the senior doctors, the cardiac matron and the cardiac rehab manager (the latter two of whom I'd worked with in a 'past life'). However, when my observations were done, they also showed an improvement. Box three ticked.
Lastly, I had to be supervised doing the stairs. Now this was quite amusing as the nurse that accompanied me in a 'supervisory capacity' was both elderly and overweight, so when we actually did the stairs, I had to stop half way to make sure that she was OK, as she was puffing and wheezing more than me! And when we got to the top, she declined to walk back down and insisted that we get the lift back down! Last box ticked.
I was now definitely being discharged, so I telephoned my friend David who'd very kindly agreed to give me a lift home, and he collected me at just before 6pm.
Considering that it was a Friday evening, at rush hour, and we were driving through London, it actually took us less time than I was expecting to get back to Kent and I was home by 7.30, feeling absolutely shattered.
At 10pm, I couldn't stay up any longer, and m'Julie settled me into bed and I went out like a light. Unfortunately, two hours later, I was wide awake, and there was nothing for it but to make my way downstairs, make a coffee, take some paracetamol (I had a temperature) and watch some of the things that I'd Sky+'d before I went into hospital.
A couple of hours later, temperature had come down and I felt tired again, so I went back to bed, but only for another two hours. However, this time when I woke up, I was a lot more breathless and experiencing quite a bit of pain on the left side again. I dosed myself up, but without success, and realised that there was a distinct possibility that another pleural effusion was forming. I settled onto the sofa and watched the remainder of the stuff I'd recorded.
m'Julie woke up at 7, by which stage I really was suffering, in excruciating pain again and really struggling to breathe. I then got the lecture from her for not waking her up earlier. However, I'd felt that it would be unfair to wake her as there was very little that she could have done. Sadly, the only solution was for me to be back in hospital and, for the second time in less than three weeks, an ambulance was called.
First on the scene on this occasion was a single Paramedic, followed minutes later by the ambulance. Unfortunately, I knew all of them, but they were very good and didn't laugh or take the mickey as much as I would have done had the roles been reversed.
Once I was in A&E my main priority was pain killers, as I was in absolute agony. In fact, after 50mg of both oral and IV morphine, 75mg diclophenac, 100mg of tramadol and 1G of IV paracetamol (I'd spiked a temperature) I was still in pain. And it was at this point that the medical SHO came to see me, his opening line being 'I understand you're the resus officer, well I failed the ALS (Advanced Life Support) course two weeks ago and I'm not happy'. Despite my instinct being to say 'I'm sorry, you must have mistaken me for someone who gives a sh*t, and you are clearly an incompetent tw*t, please get me someone who knows what they're doing', I felt so rough that I managed 'Well, it's obviously your own fault as it’s not a difficult course, but can you please concentrate on sorting me out'.
So bloods were taken and an x-ray was performed which showed that I did indeed have another pleural effusion and the decision was taken that I would be admitted. What followed was rather surreal, as various people came to see me to inform me that they were sorry, but if I was admitted I wouldn't be in a side room, but out on the main ward. What they didn't realise was that the way I was feeling, they could have put me in a corridor in full clown make-up, as long as something was done to relieve the pain and breathlessness.
Consequently, I was moved to one of the medical wards and settled in. A little later, the registrar appeared and attempted to drain the effusion. Unfortunately, he only managed to drain 20mls, but even that had quite an effect, relieving both the pain and breathlessness a little. However, the decision was taken that everything would be sorted under radiological supervision, and that there would be no more 'blind' attempts. I also started on a different IV antibiotic to the one that I'd received in London, this one being known as 'Domestos', and its side effects were to be worse than the previous lot.
So, having been home for only 12 hours, I settled down for the night on a medical ward in the hospital where I work, being looked after by a staff nurse whom I'd known since he was a brand new student nurse, which I think freaked him out far more than me.

But this was to be the home straight, more of which in part 4 soon.