Archive for the ‘medical’ Category

Years ago, I wrote for an amateur press association named Comicopia. It was fun and, despite the fairly rigid structure and deadlines, it never felt like a chore.

I usually ended my submission with some fiction, but occasionally I’d run out of time and ideas, and throw in 300 words of a story. They weren’t stories; they were excerpts of non-existent stories. A bit of fun. And I called them ‘offcuts’.

For this blog, I occasionally do something called “Odds and sods”, where I don’t have enough to write 800 or more words on a specific subject, so I’ll write a few hundred words on three different subjects.

They’re more formal than the offcuts ever were, but the ‘odds and sods’ title never quite seemed as accurate or as appropriate. Because they weren’t random, not really.

And I’ve wanted for some time to find a different way to describe them. Offcuts? No, because they’re not excerpted from anything else, nor are they entirely disposable.

And for this post, while I’m easing myself back into the daily blogging, I want to do another one of the ‘here’s some thoughts on different things’.

Hmm. So I came up with the title Short Thoughts: I’m not wholly convinced. But if the title of this post is “Short Thoughts”, then you know I didn’t come up with anything better.

OK, so on with the post…


While it can mean any number of things, and indeed the dictionary has almost two dozen different definitions, today, the House of Commons is voting (indeed, they’re voting while I type this) on one specific meaning: those morals, ethics, habits, etc., established by authority, custom, or an individual as acceptable.

Now there can be lost of different standards and indeed, the House has had various standards at various times, and various ways of judging whether or when members have breached those standards.

Currently, there is a process where an independent arbiter makes a decision upon evidence and interview and passes a memorandum of their decision to a select committee. The committee then reviews the evidence and passes a judgement upon which the House of Commons votes.

Occasionally, very very rarely, the House doesn’t accept the committee’s decision. However, what’s happening today is that the House is voting whether, at the last moment, to change the very process in order to excuse a member of the governing party.

And they’ll likely – the result of the vote is expected momentarily – vote to do exactly that.

Oh, and the person moving the vote is, of course, the same person who – as leader of the House of Commons in 2019 – introduced the current system. So there’s that.

As others have pointed out, even if you grant the argument. Of “everyone else gets a chance to appeal” (I don’t – I think it’s bullshit.) The committee stage is the appeal bit. But anyways, MPs are not employees, and they don’t get employee protection.

BUT the “my defence witnesses wanted to give oral evidence to explain stuff but they were limited to written evidence only and could not answer questions or give further information” from Paterson has, y’know, some weight.

But that’s a discussion that should be held in a calm time and in circumstances which do not, do not, effect a specific member’s sanctions right bloody now.

For the House to approve this amendment would give every member permission to be corrupt.

And, since the vote result was just announced, that’s just what they’ve done.

There used to be a graphic that did the rounds about the Treasury’s preferred tax return:

How much did you earn?
Send it to us.

Today’s vote in parliament shows MPs’ standards decisions should and probably will now be:

What did you do wrong?
Oh, nothing at all?
Oh, OK, then. Carry on.

Often, the House of Commons disappoints me. Quite often it angers me. Rarely, as in today’s proceedings, do they upset and disgust me.

Technological Convenience

Just a quick other thought, since I’m currently typing this outside a coffee shop, near home, and opposite my local pharmacy.

Not entirely due to covid, but certainly it’s not hurt, I’ve been getting repeat prescriptions for the medications I take automagically for the past couple for years.

If I need a repeat prescription, it genuinely couldn’t be more convenient and easy. I open one of three different apps on my phone or iPad. Each of them – each has functionality specific to themselves, but they share this specific option – with a half dozen clicks… allow me to select a medication, and order a resupply. And once I click on ‘ send request’, I get a notification telling me that the medication will be available for pickup in two days.

I can’t remember the last time it took two days. By the end of that day, I can wander down to the pharmacy and know that it’ll be waiting for me.

Today’s? I ordered it at 8pm last night. It was ready for pickup by noon today.

I’ve mentioned before that I both like seeing my GP when necessary and not having to see them unless I need to. The ability to do so much – I can schedule tests, I can review read results, I can order medications, and I can send them messages – without actually ‘bothering’ the doctor.

I remember having to go to the doctor to be examined before a repeat prescription. While I’m pleased at the convenience now, I do worry that it will remove the personal relationship. I do worry about that. A lot.

See you tomorrow, with… something else.



Sixty-one days. Sixty-one posts. One 2022 slowly approaching.

I’ve signed up to, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of quid every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to the new year. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here.

So I’ve been surveyed..

Not my flat, me.

A couple of weeks ago, I received some forms through the post. Which was reasssuring in an odd ‘this is the way things should get done’ way. Although I’m more than happy to complete forms online, and though I really like the efficiency and speed with which stuff can get processed electronically, there’s… something about holding forms in your hand.

Whether it’s because I’m an old fogey or whether it’s just because I’m a sceptical bastard – yes, yes, I know what you all think, and I kind of agree that it’s probably both, – I have to admit that had I received the forms by email… I dunno; I may have, probably would have, have just consigned it to spam.

Because this is what I received…

I’d heard about the survey, of course, but to be fair to myself, I had no idea what it was.

I wrote, a few weeks ago, about getting pinged¹.


Now, dear reader, whenever I type something that starts ‘I wrote, a few weeks ago…’ you’d expect to see a link to the post to which I’m referring. Hell, I’d expect to slap the link in without thinking.

And you will get that in a moment, I promise, but I first just want to express my flat out astonishment at how long ago it was.

Because had you asked me this afternoon exactly when I was pinged, I’d have guessed… oh, six weeks ago, maybe? Possibly a week or so before that.

I certainly wouldn’t have said almost three months ago. Eleven weeks ago. Almost three months; how the hell was that three months ago?

Anyways… here comes that link.

I wrote, in July (!) about getting pinged. At the time, when I was freed from the – mostly self-imposed, as it turns out – self-isolation, I considered getting tested. But at the time, there were many reports about a) how far up your nostril you had to stick the swab, and b) how unpleasant the test was at the best of times.

And you may remember that the inside of my nose is completely, to use a technical, medical term, buggered. No? You don’t remember? Well, I did mention it in a post about the personal medical consequences post, at the start of ’57 minus…’

Look, here’s an MRI from 2010, taken for other reasons completely. You can, however, see that the inside of my nose is, to again use that technical term, completely buggered.

So, yes, although I did consider getting tested for covid, when i was pinged, in the end I decided against it.

I live alone, I don’t see anyone (other than my very closest of friends) for more than a short period of time, I wear a mask whenever I can, and I’ve been one of the most “wash your hands” people I know.

Moreover, I had no symptoms. And while I’m of course aware of asymptomatic transmission, I thought it was worth the risk in not getting tested, especially since I had no wish to stick a swab far up my nose.

But while I’ve never been tested, I think I’d have to be very weird indeed not to have at least wondered, idly or otherwise, whether I’ve had it. And while I might be weird, I don’t think I’m that weird.

And then, as I say, I got these forms through the post inviting me to be part of the Office of National Statistics nationwide survey.

Any mild scepticism that it might not be genuine evaporated when I checked it out and then, even before I saw that they give you a small amount of money for taking part, about more of which in a moment, I called them and ‘signed up’ for it.

Many things attracted me about this thing, that led me to taking part.

In no particular order:

  1. They come to you. They come to your place of residence and you take the first test in front of them, so they know you know what you’re doing, then take the test away and email you the results a few days later. For future tests, they hand the kit to you, and wait outside while you perform the testt, and then you hand it back to them.
  2. Although you can walk away from the testing regime at any point; there are three ways you can take part. (I’ve chosen the last one of the three options below.)
    1. Just one test, and you’re done. That’s it; you never need to head from them again.
    2. Four tests; the first test and then one a week after that for three weeks.
    3. The four tests above, then one a month after that.
  3. The appointments are pretty much ‘within a few hours’. They call you to arrange when’s good for you, then they come to you. The two calls I’ve had so far were for an appointment the following morning, and one call that came at 3 in the afternoon and I had a test a couple of hours later.

    I’ll repeat this bit, because it genuinely was one of the things that I like about it: they email you the results and they’re clear and simple to understand: this is the one I most recently got from the second test I had.

If you are selected, and you agree to take part, it’s fifty quid for the first test and then twenty-five pounds per test, thereafter. Payment in electronic vouchers you can use in dozens of major retailers and online places.

So, yes, good news all around. I get confirmation I’m covid free, and I help the ONS with their numbers.

See you tomorrow, with… something else. I’m not sure what yet, but it’ll definitely be something else.


Fifty-seven more days. Fifty-seven more posts. One fifty-seventh birthday just had.

I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting up from my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here. (And you can see the posts in the run counting down to the birthday here.)

¹I’m amused, as so often, that my autocorrect changed the final word ‘pinged’ to ‘pounded’; I mean, getting covid may kick your arse a bit but not in that way, shurely?

No, this isn’t going to be commentary on the NHS in general, nor a comment on how the government hugely fucked up the covid response, while the NHS and those inside it have done an amazing job on rolling out the vaccines.

I mean, were I to do so, you may be able to guess from the above sentence where I’d stand. Possibly. Maybe.

And who knows, I may do something on both of those, including some very nice words about some very nice people I know who work in the NHS. (Hi Keir, if you’re reading!)

But no, this might be the first in an irregular series of posts during this run on how covid has changed what I do, what consequences it’s had for me.

So, medical stuff.

Oh, not to bury the lede — too late, Budgie — but I haven’t had covid, and at no point have I felt it necessary to get a test. Apart from anything else, unless I have to have one of those tests where you stick the swab so far up your nose you scrap the inside of your skull… I’m not going to.

Because I have a busted up inside-of-my-nose, which you can see in the MRIs immediately below. But there’s no reason for me to detail here how I got the busted up nose, IS THERE, MY BELOVED SON?

So, no, I haven’t had covid. But I know people who’ve had it, and even some who’ve been very ill with it, And I know people who died from it, including a family member. (We hadn’t been close for many years, but it still counts.)

But as far as covid and me, the biggest consequences to me, medically, have been how I’ve interacted with my GP and the hospitals I’ve had to be in contact with over the past year and a half.

Because I’ve had some… medical stuff happening during that time. In no particular order, some mental health stuff which I’m probably not going to talk about today, a couple of skin cancer scares, bleeding from some places that I really shouldn’t be bleeding from, and the usual medical stuff that hits you when you’re in your mid-50s.

On the last of these, I’m reminded that a couple of years ago I mentioned to my ex-wife that I felt like an old person. No, she didn’t reply, ‘I know, but where can you get one this time of night?’

I’d said it while on the phone to her and counting out the different medications I took, morning and night, and how I remembered as a child watching my grandparents doing the same thing.

Laura, very sensibly, asked one question: ‘…and how old were they when you remember them doing this?’

Because, of course, when I worked it out, it turned out… that they were in their late 50s, as I’m about to be, in [checks the title of this post] 50 days’ time.

So, the reason I felt… not young, was of course because I’m not young any more. OK, I may not be “old” but I was – in Emo Philips’ immortal line – born at a more comfortable distance from the apocalypse than most of the people reading this. Not necessarily all of you, but by any measure most of you.

Again, in no particular precedence, I take meds for stomach complaints, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and of course I take statins. I take vitamin supplements and sleep meds. Without the latter, I’m lucky if I sleep an hour without waking up, cursing, eventually sleeping for another hour, waking up, cursing again and then… and then… and then… So I take sleep meds.

Oh, and of course large daily doses of cocodamol 500/30 for the fucked-up foot.

But yeah, keeping in touch with my GP, my doctor, has changed the past year and a half. I’ve not yet had a video appointment with my GP but I’d be more than ok with doing so, and I was pleased to see that the NHS is investigating whether this is something that could be an option when this is over. Pretty much (with rare exceptions) every interaction I’ve had with my GP over the past 18 months has been by telephone.

Now I’m lucky. I have a great GP, someone I like and respect. The latter is more important to me than the former, because I don’t think I could trust a GP I didn’t respect. I could, I guess, though it would be difficult, trust a doctor I didn’t like. But a doctor I didn’t respect? Not a chance. And I do trust my GP.

(A long time ago, when I was a teenager, a family friend told me that there are three professionals you need to trust and tell the truth to: your doctor, your accountant, your lawyer. If you don’t trust them, he said, get another one, and always tell them the unfettered truth… because it’ll cost you a lot more in the end if you mislead them. It’s good advice, and while I’ve never needed my own accountant, for obvious reasons, I’ve used lawyers and doctors and tried at least not to be dishonest with them.)

I’ve had my current GP since I moved into Abbey Road. She’s great. And when we first met, she figured me out pretty quickly. Only twice have I not taken her advice and while one is ongoing re the mental health thing, the other… well, she was right and I was wrong and there’s nothing more to be said about it. Other than that I should have had that colonoscopy long before I had no choice but to have it because I was genuinely scared I was about to die in agony.

So that was nice.

Dealing with my GP has been a delight, because she’s a delight… knowledgeable, professional, friendly… nice; a doctor who tells me what I need to know, not necessarily what I want to know. I like seeing her, but I’m also more than ok with talking to her on the phone most of the time. And I’d be similarly quite happy chatting to her on video as well.

I’d be remiss however, if I didn’t at this stage also thank the other people in the St John’s Wood Medical Practice: the other doctors who’ve spoken to me when my GP has been unavailable, the nurses who’ve done blood tests, and the receptionists, all who have been utterly fantastic. As I said above: I’ve been very lucky.

Dealing with hospitals in the time of covid — particularly regarding the skin cancer scares — was less than pleasant, though. And it’s not their fault; the world went to hell during this pandemic, resources were stretched, and the hospitals were doing their very best just to do what they could, when they could, while they could.

But several successive telephone appointments that ended with “I have no idea why this appointment is being done by telephone; I really need to see you in person“, followed by other telephone appointments that ended with “I have no idea why this appointment is being done by telephone; I really need to see you in person“…

…followed by an in-person telephone appointment that led, 40 minutes later, to a ‘traumatised’ ¼” mole being urgently removed from my chest leaving a 2″ scar…

…yeah. Less than ideal.

(I was about to insert some pics of the mole, and the scar so you could see how horrible the former was and how neat and – frankly – weird the latter is… but I thought better of it. Still, ask if you want to see them; they’re pretty neat.)

Fortunately, the several biopsies and tests I’ve had have all turned out negative, but I’m kind of resigned to the fact that at some point I’ll get a biopsy result that… isn’t so nice. Just as I’m assuming that sooner or later I’ll have a head biopsy, the scars of which necessitate me wearing a hat thereafter. So far I’ve escaped both; I doubt I’ll escape them forever.

But the mess over the hospital appointments weren’t anyone fault. It was just everyone doing the best they could at a time when everyone was just doing the best they could.

But for the future, if I could pick and choose — which of course I can’t — I’d choose telephone/video appointments with my GP (if she’s up for that) for most stuff, and in person appointments at hospital. I kind of figure that if my GP thinks I should be seen by someone at a hospital, I should be seen by someone at a hospital.

One problem, of course, is that much as “the patient is resting comfortably” means something quite, quite different to a) the patient and b) the hospital, so unfortunately does “I need an appointment and it won’t take long…

Oh look, we’ve run out of space and time. No time to tell you about the bleeding from places I shouldn’t be bleeding from.

Well, that’s something to look forward to next¹ time, eh?

See you tomorrow, with… something else.



Fifty-seven days. Fifty-seven posts. One fifty-seventh birthday.

I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here.

¹there won’t be a next time, at least not about medical stuff