How the NHS failed me and mine.
What it did, to the most important person
in my life and how it could happen to you unless
we do something about it!

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Fat Summit

On the 3rd of November there is to be a conference on Obesity at the Institute of Child Health in London (where else?). Various aspects of the phenomena will be discussed including why poor people have poor diets (statement of the bleedin' obvious).

This is a joint conference with Dept of Health (sic) and the Association for the Study of Obesity. They will no doubt be telling fatties everywhere that it's all their own fault and they should stop eating so much and take some exercise. That's pretty much the bollocks talked by all these dietary pundits who usually fail to read the science and trot out the same advice, even when it's all been shown to be false.

Obesity is a relatively modern phenomena largely brought about by far too much reliance on carbohydrates as the backbone of the Western diet. It has been exacerbated in recent years by the huge increase in consumption of carbonated drinks and snacks high in sugars and now high fructose corn syrups (cheaper than sugar - sucrose). These are rapidly metabolised in the human and are responsible for the excess fat storage redolent of the obese.

Primitive man didn't have 'pop' and crisps or white bread or pot noodles. Primitive man consequently was rarely fat. The interesting aspect of this particular 'talking shop' however is its sponsors. Coca-Cola GB and Kellogs ( Walkers Crisps). Who better to tell us how to contain obesity than the architects of the huge rise in the consumption of 'empty calories'. Pretty much sums up the Dept of Healths concern for the well being of its constituent.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Return Of An Old Friend

Black by name and by nature I suppose. As the clocks ticked down to the end of Summer Time, an old but unwelcome friend came to visit and I hope not to stay. Blackdog has been with me on and off for some years now. Slinking away to the shadows on the good days but leaping up with snarling countenance on the bad. How he came to haunt me I am unsure. Many things in my life have conspired to unleash this troublesome beast but no single one has proved to unleash it, at least not to my knowledge. Maybe its just the accumulation of failures of expectations or the erosion of well being by the contemplation of life's mistakes.

I seem to have failed quite a lot. I seem to have lost quite a lot; money, friends, the respect of my son, a wife and more. A few things might just be bad luck, but so many seems to be bordering on careless. I used to think I was mad or bad to be so profligate with my lack of care for the precious things of life; brought up as I was by a Catholic mother and a father steeped in the austerity of the non-conformist chapels; it had to be my fault. Despite clear demonstration in therapy that this was not the case, it continues to be my mantra. Blackdog is my alter ego, the name given, by me and many before me, to my chronic depression.

Many traumas down the line, the last, was the tipping point into a misery that I had never dreamed could be so terrible. So completely, all embracingly Stygian that it seemed it would never end. Even now it returns to petrify, debilitate and emasculate, often with no warning. But it's less in intensity than it was. I can visit the scene that started it all without complete breakdown, see a blue light without too much dread. I used to hide my depression when it came by; pretended to be normal as much as I could. But this; no way. It was beyond my control, I could not function as a person, only as some robot performing life's tasks.

Contemplating regrets more than dreams is a bitter pursuit, but it has been one I have followed all too often in my long life. I seem to have taken more than I have given, yet others tell me otherwise. There often seems more I hate in life than that which I love. But when the sun shines and I feel well, I can at last saviour the moment. They don't come easily or often but they do come. At last I see in the flowers and shrubs nurtured by my love, in her garden, a beauty I never saw before. The simple pleasure she derives from these, has begun to impinge on my soul. I see no God in this, or indeed in anything else, but there is a pattern; perhaps the only one I will ever see.
I would like to say I see hope, but Blackdog follows me around at present even when the sun shines. I am not my depression, but it is a constant battle with Blackdog snapping at my ankles to get through each day with hope. They say it springs eternal; I'm unsure. I can but keep trying. I do have the undeserved and unconditional love of someone so precious to me for it to hurt and that is a gift few can boast. It should be sufficient for anyone.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Caring; A Role for Life

My life as a carer began only just over a year ago. Time has given me some perspective and some relief from the more onerous aspects of the role. J can manage most of life unaided given a few measures like an automatic gearbox and a higher seating position in driving. As my eyes get worse it may become a need and the role may be reversed a little.
But caring is more than just a functional need fulfilled. It was at first a role consumed with a voracious appetite; a need to assuage the guilt of the survivor. To pay back the years of devotion, patience and unconditional love heaped upon me, mostly undeservedly, that although returned, was often tinged with hubris.
The accident was for me, one who has escaped physically unscathed from some terrible events, a mountain of sheer terror, that became a prolonged trauma. Building as it did from the first moment to weeks later, I became almost unable to function. Except of course when it came to fulfilling this role of caring for someone who I realised was more important to me than life itself. Somehow through the dysfunctional anguish; the uncontrollable tears, there sprang just enough strength to push that wheelchair, cook the meals, get J in and out of the van I took to driving, to carry the needs for someone learning to walk again. Where it came from I never will know. Although pain from my arthritic joints intensified with the burden, it was never one that could not be endured and certainly not one to be reported.
As the weeks became months the tasks became lighter, my role less intrusive as she coped, sometimes so well, that I resented the loss of dependence upon me. It seemed my role could be ameliorated and I became depressed about her independence; her need to assert her desire to be such, made me fear for her safety. I took to checking up on her, all the time and entreating care and caution in every endeavour. Her desire to be 'normal' became a burden and as it did my depression deepened.
I constantly relived events that traumatised, some even from my youth. The airplane crash, my fathers death, the cancer scare, the nuclear incident; all now seemed so real and terrible, yet I had ridden through them with a resilience I could not understand now, looking back. Worst of all was the realisation, that I had nearly lost that which I needed more than anything else and the picture of events that played in my head of this, intruded more than anything else.
When I did find help it unleashed a torrent of tears; a staggering explosion of emotion unknown before. I had been given permission to be like this. It was to be expected. I wasn't mad or bad. I was just traumatised by the possible loss of the one thing I had been able to salvage from a life filled with duty, caring about others and most of all guilt at not being there when she needed me.More terrible, was the knowledge that it wasn't all my fault, because in my world, it had to be.
She still needs my help. I am still a carer and sometimes still in fear for her safety. I continue to fight for justice and candour, as to how we came to be here and will do so now for all of my days. It's the loss of the days before that fill me with guilt and resentment. James Dean said it, "dream as if you'll live for ever, live as if you'll die today"