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For any of you still using LJ for blogging (I use it purely for comms, and keeping up with the few of you who still blog here) -

As you might have noticed, I no longer blog here. Instead, you can find me at http://wotsitweb.blogspot.co.uk/ Basically, whatever I used to put on LJ, now goes here. Thanks!

My Annual Christmas Message

(I depart tomorrow for for my annual Christmas exodus. And so, I leave you with my annual message of goodwill towards all men)

Let’s just say, I like Christmas.

Now, as to whether or not a baby was born in a stable, in the middle of winter, to an unmarried teen mother who may or may not have gotten it on with her much older fiancé, I don’t know. I don’t really care, to be quite honest. If it’s all myth, it’s all myth. The power is in the story, the retelling and the imagery.

There probably aren’t that many people in the world today, who don’t at least have some vague basic awareness of this particular story, even if they can’t tell you what the moral of the story (and Christianity in general) is.

It all boils down, in essence, to something like, “don’t be a dick”. If someone needs help, help them. If someone needs to talk, talk to them. Try and be cheerful with that grumpy woman behind the till in the petrol station at 7:15 in the morning. You know, just try and be a decent human being.

That is my Christmas message to you this year, and however you choose to celebrate, have a wonderful Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous 2013.

Peace to all mankind – Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Atheist.

Merry Christmas everybody.

The Duchess, the Nurse, and the DJs

I’m pretty sure that anyone who is willing to engage at least a little bit with the world at large, has formed opinions on what happened last week when the Duchess of Cambridge was admitted to hospital with severe morning sickness. And then, of course, the subsequent actions and reactions of two young DJs from Australia and an Indian nurse working at the central London hospital where Kate was being treated.

But if you happen to have lived in a cave for the past 10 days, you can get a grasp on the story here:

At first, before the nurse committed suicide, all the news reports were full of “stupid hospital, don’t they have procedures to prevent this?” and “stupid Aussie kids and their not-funny joke!”
Then, as soon as it emerged that the nurse had committed suicide, a full-scale witch hunt was launched on these two DJs. The press and public were baying for their blood, as if they had killed this poor nurse with their own bare hands.
But today, an interview came out with these two DJs… and I don’t see murderers. I see two young adults, about my age, utterly broken, devastated and tormented by what has happened. Their only intention was a silly prank, designed for laughs amongst a local audience of similar 20-somethings. Did they anticipate what would happen as a direct result? Absolutely not. Never in a million years. Yes, their phone prank was silly, not really very funny and in rather poor taste, but does that make them dirty, scummy murderers? Absolutely not. I feel intensely sorry for them.
I looked at their faces today. Both of them looked drawn, tired and haunted and I wanted to give them both a hug. They could have been me, my friends, people I hang out with all the time. Are any of us capable of pulling a silly prank for laughs? Absolutely. Have we wanted to drive people to suicide with our words or actions? Never. After all, we’re not talking about uneducated louts on the street here. We’re talking about educated, articulate, intelligent people who would never wish to cause another person harm. Did they want to have a laugh at another person’s expense, possibly (although they say the joke was meant to be on them… I’m not convinced by that), but did the intend anyone to kill themselves with guilt? Never.

However, following today’s interview, there is a slight turn in the tide towards these two DJs. And people are seeing the truth of the fact, that these are just some Aussie kids who are experiencing unintended, unimagined, but massive consequences.

But the whole case leaves unanswered ONE key question. What really drove Jacintha Saldanha to commit suicide? Because I simply do not believe that it was “because she answered the phone to a prank caller and connected them through to another nurse”. She wasn’t even the one to speak to them about Kate’s condition. I SIMPLY DO NOT BELIEVE THAT WAS THE ONLY TRIGGER.
Jacintha probably felt embarrassed, yes. But one does not kill themselves simply because they were embarrassed.

What we really need to be thinking about here, if the establishment is to learn anything from this sad, sad story, is this;

What other factors may have driven Jacintha to believe that suicide was the only thing left to do?

Questions need to be asked about hidden mental health issues, work place stress, unexpected negative attention, work place support structures… All manner of other things need to be considered before the sole blame is left to fester at the door of two daft Australia DJs. Because people don’t commit suicide in isolation. Often there are years and years of unhappiness brewing before a person reaches the point of contemplating suicide seriously. And perhaps people close to Jacintha need to be asking themselves some seriously probing questions, before blaming two young people on the other side of the world.

I feel desperately sorry for Jacintha, who was obviously teetering at the very edge of the line between coping and not.

I also feel desperately sorry for Christian and Mel. This will haunt them for the rest of their lives, whether they were truly to blame or not. And I don’t believe they were. They pranked a desperately vulnerable person, and although they didn’t know that, nor should they have done it in the first place. The only person responsible for the outcome, as it stands today, is Jacintha. May she rest in peace.

x S
UK people will know that next week there will be elections taking place to elect "Police Commissioners". From what I can gather, these will be extremely well-paid civilian roles, in which they get to tell the police big-wigs what to do and will "represent public views".

However, it's all got a bit tits-up, because no-one understands why the hell they are bothering. The police force have done just fine on their own, as far as I can tell, and so I can't see how a civvy electee is going to have a SINGLE useful thing to contribute.

That being said, I think it is important to vote anyway. Small problem, I didn't know who ANY of the candidates were, what political parties they affiliated with, or what their manifestos included. Not a single one has even put the smallest of leaflets through my door.

So, I decided to inform myself, via the great medium of... The Internet.

Turns out I have 5 candidates to choose from. My decision-making of who to vote for went like this:
Conservative party member...? Won't vote for them, on principle.
Labour party member...? Thrown out of party because of un-declared criminal conviction...? That's a "no" then.
Liberal Democrat party member...? Has nothing to say about nothing much. Has no particularly relevant experience as far as I can see. That's a no vote.
Independent candidate #1...? Ex member of failing county council? Not the best selling point. No thanks.
Independent candidate #2...? Ex police community support officer, retired RAF pilot... Mid 50's in age... I guess he'll have to do.

Then today, I got a leaflet about another little referendum just for my parish. Should the (quite large) parish be split into 2? Or remain as it is? Well, I can honestly say, the leaflet didn't help me decide one tiny little bit. So I shall vote for it to stay as it is.

Democracy is boring in this country! At least the US system has a bit of drama attached, even if they do spend a billion pounds on the campaigns. That could go towards welfare or schools...? Surely?
Hello everyone, I hope you are all well.  Here is an update on "the state of the me".

Eye -
Following the whole stitch plucking/trimming debarkle, my eye is doing much better.  As of yesterday, I'm officially on no more medication for it (even though I should have been off it 2 weeks ago).  I am slightly aware of that awkward stitch that had to be trimmed, but not anywhere near enough to be concerned about.  I had a scheduled trip to the eye department on Tuesday and a look through my notes made by the surgeon revealed a "VERY thin sclera".  This is the white part of your eye.  Basically this means that this particular stitch doesn't have a whole lot to cling on to, and thus is nearer to the surface than is really ideal.
There is still redness in the eye, but I am noticing that that is slowly starting to clear.  The eyelid is still somewhat droopy, but hopefully that is also something that will improve in time.

Job -
Nothing really to report on that front.  Still unemployed but there are applications in the works and I have emailed my agency just this morning with regard to giving them a kick up the backside on the "finding me some temp work" front.  Also, they've stopped running their own PAYE scheme, so I've had to register with an umbrella company to pay me.  That has been a hassle and has taken up valuable brain-space.  But on the plus side, they pay mileage and a daily lunch allowance of between £5 and £10 depending on how long I am out of the house.
Edit:  Well, well.  Within a couple of hours of emailing, I receive a text asking what my availability is for next week.  What a surprise eh?

Hair -
As you may remember, I got my hair cut super-short about 6 weeks ago.  At the time the hairdresser said "you'll need to come back in about 5 weeks to keep it looking neat".  I mentally went "pfff. whatevs, see you in 2 months at the earliest!"  Only now it's 6 weeks, and it perfectworld really needed doing last week...  I take back my words.  I'm starting to work a shaggy dog look.

NaNoWriMo -
Is it that time already?
Typically I think about it on and off most of the year, but certainly from about July onwards.  For AGES I thought I had my plot sorted.  Until I had an idea that was much better!  I'm really looking forward to writing it and hopefully being a winner for the 3rd time. :)

That's pretty much it.  I hope you lot are all well and lovely. :)  x
Okay, I'm now never again going to declare I'm done with hospitals. Because whatever I say, I seem to end up back there! As you may have gathered, I had to go back AGAIN.

Saturday, the stitch near my tear duct hurt.
Sunday, the stitch near my tear duct really hurt.
Today, the stitch near my tear duct was bloody agony.

So... I went back to eye casualty for another poke around.

"Oh yes... That internal stitch is poking up through the eye surface..."

Then he got SCISSORS AND TWEEZERS and TRIMMED IT. HE TRIMMED IT WITH SCISSORS. And let me tell you, you haven't lived until a pair of scissors have come at your eyeball with intent.

I now have yet another 10 day course of eye drugs and will have to go back to casualty for another trim if it pops out again! FFS! lol.

If, at some point in the future, someone says, "Hey Sal! Want me to try and correct your other eye?" I will say "NO."

Sep. 21st, 2012

You know what I said about being done with hospitals? Well, that turned out to be untrue!

Over the past week, my eye had been getting increasingly sticky during the day. So much so that I was pulling green gunge out of it. In the end, yesterday morning I phoned up the eye ward and they said to come down to eye casualty for a check-up.

Went down and the consultant (a different one to who did the surgery) did lots of peering in it with lights and mirrors, lots of different eye drops, and eventually said that he would try and take the stitches out that were at the top of my iris.

"Let me just find some tweezers..." is possibly the worlds worst eye-related sentence.

Anyway, cue more drops, some poking around and he whipped them out and showed it to me. A nice black string about a centimetre long. Apparently there are more stitches in the lower corner by my nose that are lying awkwardly, which are causing the bulk of the irritation. But he can't get that one out because it's under the surface. So that one I will just have to wait until it dissolves.

This morning my eye does feel a bit better for having got the stitches at the top out, but I'm frustrated by the irritating one still left behind! Little f**ker.

So... An appointment on the 2nd October still. THEN I hope to be DONE WITH HOSPITALS! TA DA!

What a great website!

This Tumblr is rather magnificent.  I thought some of you other teacher-types might be interested.  It is far too old for the age groups I teach, but those of you who do, say 10 years and up, might find something worth doing.

I also thought it might be fun to answer a few of them myself.  My reason being that Nanowrimo is creeping up on us again, and I fully intend on getting my 3rd win.  I sort of have 3 plots brewing, but I'm not yet decided on which one I will choose, or indeed... any of them.
I've done literally ZERO creative writing since the last nano, so it might be no bad thing to oil the ol' brain-cogs with a few short & sweet writing prompts.
Might as well start with the one above.  You could play along and guess the objects I describe. :)
  1. A metal object, approximately 6 inches long and half an inch wide at the narrowest point.  Vaguely flat and stick-like, apart from at one end where it widens considerably to form a smooth, bowl-like oval.  Item has "Stainless steel" engraved on the flat surface, but otherwise no other markings.  It's usage is unclear, but possibly it was used for medical procedures with the thin, flat end acting as some kind of handle and the curved bowl used to move and manipulate internal cavities.
  2. A primarily glass object, vaguely spherical, but narrowing to a dull point at one end.  This end is coated in a ridged metal covering which is cylindrical in shape.  The glass on the spherical end is cloudy, but looking through it one can just make out 2 small metal prongs fixed within it, with a thin wire connecting the 2.  It's usage is also unclear, but it may be some sort of storage container.  Although the ridged metal end appears fused now, there may have been a time where it unscrewed and one could fix small items to the metal prongs for safe-keeping.
  3. A rectangular box.  Approx. 6 inches long, 4 inches high and an inch deep.  On one of the large flat sides is a black circle which opens up to reveal a glass circle contained within.  On the opposite side of the box is a large square panel that appears to be glass.  Surrounding it are circles that can be compressed easily with the fingertip.  On a long thin edge is a small dial that can be turned, along with more compressible circles.  It's use is perhaps as some sort of child's toy?  I could imagine a small child would be encouraged to work on their fine motor skills by pressing on the circles.


Olympics, eye surgery and the rest.


Typically, we have a lot to catch up on. As usual, I put off writing it because there is SO MUCH.

I last updated on July 5th, according to LJ, in which the teaching term was about to end and a 6-week holiday was about to begin.

So… I left my previous job after my contract ended. I had been quietly hoping that a space would miraculously open up for me, but was also enough of a realist to know it probably wouldn’t happen, and it didn’t.
Anyway, SUMMER! The torrential rain of June/July came to an end just in time for the summer holidays, which was just lovely of it. I kicked it off with a celebratory lunch at Adele’s house in which I celebrated and Adele threatened to kill me. Just because I get 13 weeks off a year, and she gets 5…

The end of July was rounded off with a trip to London to see THE OLYMPICS! I have been excited about this fact ever since it was announced however-many-years-ago it was. There was no doubt to me, even back then, that HELL YES, I’d be buying tickets. And so, me, Mum, Dad and Hazel travelled down to watch Judo and Boxing. I enjoyed the judo more than the boxing for no reason I can particularly pin down. Both were essentially repetition of the same sort of people attacking each other. I dunno, boxing was in the afternoon and I was tired by then, having gotten up at 5am-something. Also, we spent the 3 hours or whatever it was at boxing with our heads turned 45◦ to the right, because of the position of our seats. That gets tiring and achy after a while.
That night, I was ill. As in cold sweats and uncontrollable shivering ill. But woke up in the end feeling pretty okay and we trotted off down to London, early morning again, to see weightlifting. This was enjoyable also and quite entertaining in its own way. Got home absolutely shattered, in bed by 8pm and woke up the next morning with a special brand of extremely chesty cough. Thus the mystery chills the night before were explained. Not sure where it came from though. No one I spent any length of time with was ill, and I can’t believe I caught it that quick during 2 trips to London in the middle of summer. I go to London all the time and have never caught anything. It must have been a random person in Tesco or something.
Anyway, when I get a cough, I GET A COUGH. So, for a good week, I stayed in, watched the Olympics and coughed. Annoyed to be missing good summer fun.

On the 24th August, I had my corrective squint surgery on my left eye. Now, kudos to the NHS, it was only about April that I was first referred, so to be in for, what is basically “cosmetic” surgery (although they called it a “quality of life improvement”) in 4 months, is surprising and impressive.
On surgery day itself, I went to the day surgery unit, got in my sexy operation robe, anti-embolism stockings and dressing gown, only to be told there was a problem in the operating theatre and we’d have to relocate to another department. Now, hospitals are not small and are also quite public. And so, I walked out the building, CROSSED A ROAD, and through the corridors to the eye unit, to take advantage of their theatre. All the while dressed for surgery. Stylish. And perhaps not terribly sterile. All the surgery staff scrub up. I, quite literally, wander in off the street.
I was put into a private room and left to wait for a short while as the surgeon and his team prepped. The anaesthetists assistant came to check my ID bracelets, I had to explain what I was having surgery for (covering consent procedures I guess), and then the surgeon stuck his head round the door to SING TO ME a warped excerpt of “They’re Coming To Take Me Away, ha ha!”. Only, he replaced the word “me” with the word “you”, and you’ll realise why the NHS is flippin’ awesome.
Taken through to pre-op and wired to machines with those little circular sticky monitor things. 2 on my upper chest, one on my upper arm (what the frig was that one measuring?). The anaesthetist, whom I’d already met was chatting away about his daughter starting school in September as he put the canula in the back of my hand, while his assistant held an oxygen mask over my face. I heard the assistant tell the anaesthetist “it won’t work if you don’t turn it on” (nice), then I was out. No faffing around, no “I feel sleepy”, just OUT. Like turning off a switch. Looking back on it now, it was a very peaceful and non-anxiety-producing way to be knocked out.
Woken up some time later by a hand shaking at my shoulder, calling “Sally… Sally…!” Cracked open the good eye to watch a drip bag being unclipped and carried away. Then a vague sensation of being wheeled back to my private room, somehow roused enough to transfer myself from trolley to the bed, given some water through a straw and left to my own devices for a bit. Later brought coffee and an egg and tomato sandwich (not a natural pairing in my eye(s)). Mum and Dad were called back, read the paper and played (slightly ironically) “I Spy”.
After a loo stop (apparently essential before I could be discharged), my canula was taken out, but not compressed for long enough, successfully saturating the plaster with blood, and we had call the nurse back for another attempt.
The bandage covering my left eye was removed and I was generally cleaned off. Surprised to find I couldn’t open the eyelid and said so. No one seemed to respond to my comment, so I remember I kept repeating it until the nurse finally said it was totally normal due to anaesthetic and bruising.
Drops were put in, a plastic eye guard placed over the top and taped in place, and I was discharged. Felt okay when I got home, didn’t want to eat though. Felt a bit vomity overnight and the next morning but wasn’t. Took a long mid-afternoon nap and was then fine.

As for the eye itself, 3 weeks post-surgery, it’s doing okay. It’s still quite blood-shot, and alternates between gungy and dry. The vision is still a bit blurry as the muscles and my brain get used to the new eyeball shape/positioning. The stitches are still in place at the top of my iris, which is causing my eyelid to not really want to open fully, which is annoying and makes me look sleepy/stoned.
In my post-op check-up, the eye was declared “perfectly straight”, which makes it a job well done!
I have another appointment in early October, and I think that might be it. From then on, I wish to declare myself DONE WITH HOSPITALS for the foreseeable future. What with broken elbows, physiotherapy, multiple pre-op eye checks and post-op checks, this past year I’ve been at the hospital quite a lot. Having not had any reason at all for the past 20 years, I think I’ve cost the NHS enough for the time being. They have been nothing short of fantastic at every stage of my dealings with them over the past 12 months. I dread to think what this would have cost elsewhere in the world. The answer is A LOT. Hurrah for the health service. It CAN be done.

In other news, I got my hair cut short. No. SHORT SHORT. It’s very easy to look after, that’s for sure.