This Week’s Round-Up Is Brought To You With Maybe A Tiny Glimmer Of Hope…

…she says, just waiting for it to be obliterated.

Last week’s post ended with me about to call the hospital and insist that they give me an appointment. According to the NHS website, the maximum waiting time for non-urgent procedures is 18 weeks. I was first seen on the 9th of March, and have been told several times since then that my case is an urgent one, and yet still I have no date for surgery.

I don’t blame the NHS for this. I’m a lefty, so I blame the Tories.

But regardless of who’s to blame, the fact is that the whole thing hasn’t exactly run smoothly. The week before last I was slotted in for an emergency endoscopy after the hospital forgot to send me an actual appointment, and then they were trying to make me wait until the 31st of July for the results appointment, which had originally been scheduled for the 19th of June. Some more digging around on the NHS website uncovered that, if the hospital cancels at the last minute for a non-clinical reason or otherwise messes up your appointment, they’re required to give you a new one within 18 days.

Armed with this information, last Monday I called the hospital.

And I called. And I called. And I called. I called once an hour, every hour, leaving increasingly insistent messages on the team’s answering machines, quoting the stuff I’d found on the website and threatening to go to the ombudsman. Eventually I got through to someone who said she’d definitely call me back the following morning.

Predictably, she didn’t, so at noon I called her instead… and discovered she’d changed her number.

“Beep-beep-boop. The number you have called is no longer in service.”

I assumed I’d misdialed and tried again. Nope.

So I called every other member of the team that deals with the problem I have. And they’d all changed their numbers. Which was hilarious, and also annoying.

Finally, after calling at random several numbers from the various letters the hospital has sent me over the past few months, I got through to someone who was helpful. I explained that they’d messed up my appointment; that I’d been told there wasn’t a new one available until the end of July; that the Appointments department had said I needed to call the secretary of the actual surgeon’s department in order for them to be allowed to book one in earlier; that she’d said there weren’t any new ones available and that she’d have to double-book me; that she’d then said she had to clear this with the head of her department and would get back to me but never did; and that now the whole department had changed their numbers.

I was probably sounding slightly hysterical by this point. I was finding it quite amusing in some ways, but also very annoying, and I think the person I was talking to understood that if I’d been able to send myself through the phone line to stand clutching the edge of her desk and begging her for help, I probably would have done so.

She said she’d try to help, and then she must have opened the little calendar thingy on her screen, because her next words were: “Oh, we can definitely fit you in! There are loads of appointments available! How’s next Monday? I’m sorry there aren’t any earlier than that!”

Slightly stunned, I agreed to today’s appointment and hung up. Loads of appointments?! Then why had they made me jump through hoops and call them until they all changed their numbers?

Oh well.

Today I get to go in for whatever this appointment is – I think it’s a consultation and a confirmation that I’ll be having surgery, and will hopefully be followed by the actual booking of said surgery at some point in the not-too-distant future.

So, a glimmer of hope. We’ll see what happens to it this afternoon.

In other news, I have become addicted to documentaries about hermits after watching this video on YouTube. It’s about Agafia Lykov, who lives in the middle of the Siberian taiga with a bunch of cats, and I kind of want to be her, minus the super-religious part:

I also watched a Netflix documentary about the Kalbeliya, a Romani tribe in Rajasthan. The guy who made it seemed like a bit of a douche, or maybe just not very good at narrating, but nonetheless it was an insight into their lives. There are a lot of similarities between the way they live and the way the rest of us Romani people live (traditionally speaking), but there are also some differences based on their proximity – both literally and metaphorically – to the Hindu ways of life from which the Romani offshoots originally grew.

(c) Jason John

In a turn of good fate, I realised that the reason I was throwing up so often (several times a day – trust me, by the beginning of month four it’s fucking exhausting) was because of the cocktail of pills I’ve been on. I stopped taking them for a couple of days to test this theory, and no more throwing up! But horrible horrible headaches and shaky withdrawal symptoms. After those had passed, though, my brain felt clearer and I could read books again! And I wasn’t throwing up. So, niceness all round.

I read:

  •  Friendship by Emily Gould – a novel about the nature of friendship, and quite sweet in places, especially when the girls first have a conversation about whether they’re best friends.
  • Married to a Bedouin by Marguerite van Geldermalsen – a biographical account of a woman who went to Jordan on holiday and ended up staying.
  • Living the Dream by Lauren Berry – a novel about the soul-sucking black hole that is working in advertising, and the contrasting struggle of the freelance life.
  • One by Sarah Crossan – a novel about conjoined twins with a far too predictable ending.
  • Moving by Jenny Eclair – a novel about all the memories a house can hold, and how painting people as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ isn’t always as straightforward as it might seem.

Unfortunately, after a few pill-less days the medication must have made its way completely out of my system, because the Horrible Pains returned and I had to start taking them again. Now the world feels slightly fuzzy and I once again feel like my arms aren’t attached to my body. But they still seem to be typing, so it’s all good, right?

In work-related news, I interviewed Wede Oriwoh about her work on the Internet of Things, and found her fascinating.

I also was chased by my editor about the final chapters of the book, which the publisher would like to publish in August. This means they’ll need the final draft by the 18th of this month, which my editor said “should be easy”. I’m not really in agreement with that analysis, but I am pushing myself to do my best, so we will see what happens. It might end up being a wildly different book than the one I have been commissioned to write, but they’ll just have to be happy with that, if they’re looking for speed over quality…

Two interesting things I read on the internet this week:

  • An article about “Fucking Joan”, i.e. the way we look at other people, measure our lives against them, and erroneously decide we’re coming up short.
  • For years, I’ve been having conversations with people about feminism, and trying to explain my position on it, and doing a bad job of that, but now Mark Manson has done it for me, which is very helpful.

I am also back on Facebook after a three-year break. If we’re friends, add me – and if we’re not, follow me.

Now I’m off to the hospital to hopefully receive some good news…


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