teylaminh: (Buffy - sanity)
[personal profile] teylaminh
This is long-overdue, as ever...

Health

Since my procedure in July things actually seem to have gotten worse. I've had two kidney infections treated since then, one about a week after the stent was fitted and another back in August which resulted in a further two days of sickness. I say "two treated" because I've actually had one pretty much constantly since then. I've seen no point in going to the GP for more antibiotics because, basically, the infection disappears whilst I'm taking them and then immediately returns again, and constantly taking antibiotics just builds up your body's tolerance.

I've also been in near-constant pain for the duration, in the same place as usual - just under my ribs on my right-hand side - and my painkillers have now stopped working. I went back to the GP last month in a vain attempt to expedite my follow-up at the hospital and to get some stronger painkillers. I failed on both attemps, as apparently the hospital just send letters out four weeks before the appointment as a matter of course because "people forget" otherwise, and was told to take paracetemol on top of the naproxen, and my super-strong cocodamol before bed. In fairness, that seems to have worked for the most part; either that or my pain threshold just keeps ramping itself ever higher. :P

ANYWAY. On Saturday I finally got the letter through about my follow-up, which will be on 1st December - making it exactly a year since my first failed appointment when I went to the wrong hospital. At this I am expecting / hoping to tell my urologist that the stent / procedure didn't work (if anything it's just made matters worse) and can we PLEASE try something else like, I don't know, removing the cyst possibly maybe? I think I will also get the results (if any) of my cystoscopy, though I like to think if there was anything sinister they would have told me already...

I think they'll also be removing the stent, as my understanding is that it's a temporary "fixture", for want of a better word. I am not holding out any hope that this appointment will provide any immediate solutions to the problem, but it's still a step in the right direction. I am understandably disappointed / frustrated that the July procedure did not do anything helpful, because this has now been going on nearly 18 months without any kind of light at the end of the tunnel. But on the plus side, my Attendance Improvement Plan finishes in November (yes, it's been a year since my long-term sickness period!) so I will not have the additional stress of trying desperately to be well enough to be in work. :P

On that note: I am persistently exhausted thanks to all this, and still somehow managing to do four meetings a week AND periodically travel citywide to do them. Any free time I do have is becoming less and less productive because I simply do not have the energy.

Family Stuff

I have two things to update about here...

1. Parental Expatriation

So, big news: my mum and David have BOUGHT a HOUSE in BULGARIA.

David went out there a few weeks ago to speak to an estate agent and scout out what they could get for their money, what "fixer-upper" constituted, etc., and they have decided on a three-bed bungalow with extensive grounds and outbuildings in a town about 45 minutes from the coast. (Plus a Mysterious Locked Shed which nobody has the key to...) It is basically ready to move into as the previous inhabitant was a little old lady who was living in two rooms, and there's enough firewood stocked up for two winters. So now they're in the process of having a mahoosive clear-out and deciding what to do with the various rooms to make the most of the space.

The move itself is dependent on when they can sell their current house and is not likely to be until after the new year. David wanted to move immediately but that's not practical, and in any case I think my mum convinced him that they should, y'know, spend one last Christmas here before packing up and moving out. :P

They have decided on Bulgaria because it's still close enough to Turkey that they could holiday there, but is also part of the EU so if they needed to work they still could. Besides which, given all the political upheaval in Syria lately, Turkey is not the best option, and finding out information about how to move there was next to impossible. Also, it transpires that property in Bulgaria is RIDIC cheap.

So, very exciting! Apparently flights are very cheap from Luton so that does at least give us a lot of cheap summer holiday options when we can't afford to go all-out. :P

2. The Piano Situation

So, in my last big update I mentioned the last time we had seen my grandmother (for her birthday in April) and the weird letter from my uncle demanding that we "settled" the piano immediately.

Our intention was to write back and explain that we had gotten the wrong end of the stick re: the moving of said piano, that we would move it ourselves and not to worry about paying for it. Except like with everything else, time kind of ran away with me - and anyway, in the meantime work became horrendously stressful and I had the above impending move to Turkey (as it was at the time) taking up a lot of my emotional energy until the situation became a bit clearer.

So, jump forward a few months to my birthday, when things kind of got moving again.

I thought she had "forgotten" it, at first, because there was no card or carrier bag left through/on the front door as is traditional. (By which I mean intentionally ignored it because we had not spoken to her in so long.) At this point I thought I probably really SHOULD write to her because things had begun to calm down at work (the new Head of Service is excellent, btw, as we all thought she would be...) and I had a bit more energy to compose a sensible response. In the meantime we had also adopted Leo-the-Cat and I thought that a good opening gambit would be to send her some photographs, as she asks us whenever we go over whether we have a cat yet...

Anyway, around about the 19th (I think) the infamous carrier bag finally appeared - the usual array of slightly odd unwrapped items (a mug, an apron, a headscarf...), a cushion cover for my mum, and the traditional Weird Letter.

Actually, the letter wasn't too bad, all things considered. She informed us that she broke her hip a few weeks ago and had to stay with my father, which as you can probably imagine was a recipe for disaster and ill-feeling (she stayed there two days then went home as apparently he made her sleep in an armchair - not sure quite how true that is but I wouldn't put it past him to put her on the sofa...). But, you know, kudos to my uncle for informing us about that. *eye-roll*

She briefly mentioned wanting my mum to call her up - in fairness, at some point they will have to contact her about the move to Bulgaria, because (unless it's been changed) they are still the executors of her will. David assumed we had told her, but Paul and I agreed we would not mention anything remotely contentious, ever since the animosity occurred, in a bid to avoid being dragged into things and to try and keep conversations simple.

The bit I found most interesting was a sentence where she said she wasn't mentioning the piano, and that it was "all forgotten forever". I don't think I want to know what has prompted that comment, but at the very least it appears she/they have realised from my months-long silence that Paul and I will not put up with passive-aggressive bullshit like that - from anyone, let alone family.

So now I really should write to her. :P The plan remains the same, i.e. open with cat pictures, explain about the piano, invite them over for dinner and cat-meeting, etc. Unfortunately, when my mum and David have moved, Paul and I will be the only remotely decent family she has left; I didn't want this stupidity to reach a point where I had to cut off contact for my own sanity's sake (especially because of my uncle's actions rather than hers) and it has now become even more apparent that we need to nip this thing in the bud.

Basically... all of this would have been SO MUCH LESS STRESSFUL if I didn't have ongoing health issues. I hadn't appreciated before just how badly this chronic illness/pain would impact on my mental health - not just because it's exhausting but because all I can do is wait it out and occasionally hassle the GP. I guess a lot of it is because I find big, overwhelming frustration exceedingly hard to deal with, and I have two such beasts hanging over my head at any one time: NHS waiting lists, and work...

And finally...

Work Stuff

The work situation remains much the same - we are overworked and understaffed. However, the new Head of Service is very clear that there will be positive changes in the future, and our new Chief Social Worker also seems very committed to improving the Directorate as a whole. Perhaps best of all, the new Head of Service is ensuring all agency Chairs receive the same induction as full-time staff, getting rid of agency staff who do not pull their weight or perform properly, and - this is the best bit - wants to include PSS/admin staff in future decision making.

There will be a minuting standard across the city, informed by focus groups of minute-takers, Chairs and managers. It will be agreed, the templates will be altered, and it will be delivered to ALL staff simultaneously and then reviewed after six months. This is so long overdue and it's a massive relief to know that it's going to happen. I've stated quite clearly that I'm happy to volunteer myself to be part of the focus group, even though it was a colleague at Lifford who initiated the contact with the Head of Service in the first place. (We on South are basically trying to drag the other two areas up to our exacting standard. :P)

So yeah - there is finally a light at the end of the tunnel and it's slowly getting bigger. It will be a long and slow process, and the HoS has a massive undertaking ahead of her, but in fairness she knew that when she applied, and the drive to make those changes is what prompted her to do it in the first place. There's only so long you can carry on with staff morale at an all-time low, and it had reached a point in mid-June when I honestly though there was no way things could get any worse.

Yes, on South we perhaps do care too much, and that has been a major part of the problem... but the fact that we care will be what propels us through the fog and safely out the other side. We work in Child Protection: caring is what we do. Our role contributes only a tiny amount to ensuring the safety of children, but as the adverts say... every little helps. ;)

It's been over two years since I left Legal, and despite the horrendous stress we've all been under for the past year or so, I stand by that decision as being the best thing I could have done. If I didn't love this job, I wouldn't be saying that.

Right, I think that about covers it. I keep promising to update more often and that always turns out to be a lie, so... I will endeavour to update before Christmas. At the very least, I still haven't posted the latest embroidery updates. :P
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teylaminh

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