Disclaimer

BEFORE YOU START: Please note that although I currently volunteer for both the Stroke Association and Age UK, the views expressed in this blog are strictly my own. I am not a spokesperson for either (or, indeed, for any) organisation, and I accept complete responsibility for the views expressed herein. I've tried to use the Glossary to explain any ambiguous terms, but if you think there is anything I've missed, please message me.

Friday, 29 June 2018

Drop In 27/06/18

I did my drop-in this week. Visiting the ward.

The Stroke Ward moved premises around a month or six weeks ago. They've moved a couple of times in recent months, although none of the moves seem to have led to upgraded facilities. Anyway, the latest premises contained a room designated a "Quiet Room", a quiet area for relatives to take a pause.

We (the charity) also used the room both as a place to rendezvous, and a place to display a lot of our literature. I mean, strokes obviously take some time for people to get their heads around, so the Stroke Association's small A5 pamphlets, covering a variety on different topics, are quite useful. They would be to me, anyway, if I were a relative.

Anyway, I rocked up on Wednesday and found that the Quiet Room door was closed, and a staff meeting was going on inside. Furthermore, the door now had sheets of paper with calendars on them, nice neat hourly slots throughout the week. So clearly, some enterprising member of staff has hit upon a new room to have meetings in.

Tough luck, relatives.

For two hoots, I must admit I'd stop volunteering there. Whatever benefit relatives might gain from having this resource, somebody has decided that the clinical need is greater. I do end up wondering why I should give my time to chat to relatives, when they are so far down everybody else's list. But the reason I offered to volunteer in the first place is because I didn't think their standards were particularly brilliant. So I'm not really surprised, but was disappointed enough to contact the hospital again when I get home. I doubt I'll hear anything back.

Monday, 25 June 2018

Bluetooth

Only a few weeks ago (here), I posted about the swanky new glucometer I'd been given by my local surgery. Bluetooth. Syncs with my phone. In theory.

In practise, I haven't been able to get it to sync for the last few days. I go into the app on my phone, and say "sync". I go into the Bluetooth settings on my phone, and say "connect". Nothing. I unpair and re-pair the two devices. Nothing.

This all makes me realise exactly why I like the glucometer I bought. It's not the same glucometer, of course, that I've had all this time, but I keep going back and buying same make, same model time after time. The reason? It has a USB port at one end. I take it out of the bathroom, walk it over to the laptop, plug it in.....and it just works. The beauty, really, of physical connections - there's no faffing about wondering why the wireless connection doesn't work.

So I think my flirt with this Bluetooth device might be over. That's a shame, not least since I could also get the testing strips from the local surgery, and don't have to pay any more for them. In contrast, with the Beurer (USB) machine, I need to order the strips privately. Of course, the Bluetooth machine is still a perfectly good monitor - it is only a few weeks old and conforms to all the correct standards - but, if it won't connect to anything, I fear it is now my "backup" monitor.

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Motivations

It's interesting - I wanted to leave the EU at our referendum, which was two years ago yesterday. My reasons (I've discussed this in previous posts) were - and still are - that I am represented unfairly within the EU organisation.

Even today, the issue will be guaranteed to split a room in half. I'm very interested, not really to know how people voted, but to know why they voted the way they did. It frustrates me a bit (inasmuch as I do get frustrated in any of this) that many remain arguments run along the lines, "don't you realise how poor we'll be?". The one thing that people don't get is that it was never about economics. People just don't get it.

As it happens, I'm unconvinced either by arguments that I'll be poorer, or by arguments that I'll be richer, just because the future is as yet unwritten. I ran a company for almost 25 years, and the most security I ever had in all that time was my month's notice, and I got by. I did very well, in fact. I don't really pretend that I'm any more gifted than the next person, so I don't see why anything is necessarily different for UK PLC.

Anyway, I was watching the news on C4 last night (which I think is by far the best UK-produced news programme, by the way) and there was a debate, specifically about immigration.

Now, I'm very free'n'easy about immigration. I like that we're multicultural, I think I live in an enriched society as a result. But C4 had done a poll, which revealed that 60-odd percent of <<presumably Brexit supporters>> wanted to reduce immigration, even if it meant that jobs went unfilled. Just thinking about my local hospital, they had an emergency ward which could not open last winter for lack of staff, and yet people (according to the C4 poll) are happy with this. Even though British people might have suffered as a result.

So, just as many remainers "don't get it" about my motivation for wanting Brexit, maybe on immigration, I don't get it?

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Referendums

I've thought these thoughts for a while, but never really thought how to express them. Let's try:

I like referendums. I think the best scenario is where we all do our own thing, but on an issue which affects us all, referendums are a good idea. I still see a role for parliament, to fill in the details, but I think that the pulic are sophisticated enough to indicate a direction of travel. Parliament has a responsibility, I think, to reflect public opinion, not so much to drive it.

In that same vein, people talk about referendums not being binding, but I think that's nonsense. I can accept that there may be timing issues - I think Brexit would have been better put off until the end of a budget cycle - but really, parliament should be bound to follow the public's direction. Remember that we delegate power to them, not the other way around.

So just in the sense that a referendum is the closest that we get to the public expressing its opinion on an issue, I'd actually go for more referendums, not fewer. I think we do have to think long and hard about what questions we ask - for example Cameron's simple in/out question has had people arguing ever since. If he'd have bothered to ask me what I think about immigration, sovreignty, the Customs Union, wealth etc. I'd have been happy to tell him, and saved all the arguments now. The trouble is, it's not enough just to know people's conclusion (in or out), we also need to know their motivation for saying what they say. Gordon Brown (ex-UK Prime Minister, I never really rated him in office but I think he was right here) was on tv only last weekend, saying that people's real issues were things like jobs, personal prosperity etc, things which underlay the headline EU issue.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Vorsprung durch Tecnik

My trusty glucometer went kaput the other day. As I got fresh strip after fresh strip from the tub, each time the monitor told me "Error". I suppose these machines only have a finite lifetime. So I'm left with about 100 unused strips, and almost as many unused lancets. I like the old machine, which is made by a German company called Beurer, it has a USB port which allows me to download data on my laptop. The laptop also has Bluetooth, which might make it boogie with other modern monitors, except that all the manufacturers of such monitors have Android and iPhone apps, but nothing for Windows. So, all in all, I decided to replace like-for-like.

You can buy these monitors for around £70 from UK suppliers - which is really taking the **** when you consider that most manufacturers give their monitors away as loss-leaders, safe in the knowledge that they'll offset this loss by selling consumable test strips to me every few months. I don't keep numbers on this, but I must have spent the best part of £200 these last twelve months, of which probably only 10% was "monitor". I was given a monitor by the NHS only a month or so ago, which is arguably more sophisticated than this thing, for example. And it conforms to the same standards of accuracy.

So I looked closer to source, and sourced one from Germany for about £15. A massive difference, but it probably doesn't surprise me that these monitors are more common over there. With added delivery, it all came to about £20. But that was acceptable, given that it just gave me continuity - I can use the software I already have to get the data onto my pc. Plus, this cost was far outweighed by all the consumables currently in my bathroom cabinet, which would otherwise have gone to waste.

This was Friday. On Saturday morning, I had an email telling me that something was due to be delivered, but I dismissed it as spam. Nothing was coming this quickly - this thing wouldn't be due for another 10 days. Imagine my surprise when later, not only did something arrive, but it was this glucometer! So that is about 30 hours from my clicking "Buy" to it being in my hands, with a trip from Germany in between.

So I'm a very happy bunny. I know that the astonishing delivery is thanks to DHL, not the vendor. But all the same, the vendor was responsible for picking DHL in the first place, so deserves some credit.

Monday, 4 June 2018

Footprints

I think I got to a certain age when I thought I wanted to reduce my footprint. The roof got full of solar panels and the Porsche went, in favour of something much more eco.

It was interesting at the weekend, I had someone round who objected to the tannin in his mug. We don't bother with a dishwasher any more, largely to save water with just the pair of us. Things like tannin have accumulated on some of our mugs, especially when I went through a phase of black tea, just because getting fresh milk is no longer trivial for me. In any case, the tannin is obviously sourced from the tea leaves - drinking water which had been mixed with those same leaves didn't seem to be a problem. I don't worry about it myself, in fact it reinforces to me that the detergents used by dishwashers can be pretty strong. I'm sure that tea ultimately poisons me, to one degree or another, but we could apply that argument to anything.

But it is interesting how people see things with different perspectives - I worry about a zillion things, many of which I can't overly control, but not the tannin in my mug.