Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Have you ever felt like screaming?

This is my two angelic children watching Thomas the tank on my iPhone while waiting for a paediatrician appointment. It was a brief calm before the storm.

Having one child already diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder at the age of four following, literally, 2 years of begging someone to pay attention to our concerns, you could be forgiven calling us stupid when we assumed that the assessment process would go smoother with our second child. The assessment team know us, they know we are not neurotic, they know we are not after money or charity, they know we have experience with a variety of conditions personally and professionally and we just want proper care and support for our children, so we would assume they would take us seriously second time around. Wrong on all counts.

Today we had the pleasure of being totally grilled by a 'professional' who has never before been involved in our children's care and just happened to turn up in our last appointment, and all because we went out of our way to reverse a bad situation we were in to accommodate THEM and make their jobs easier. At an increased financial, time and emotional burden to us I might add.

After I literally turned my back on this offensive person to address the professional we actually came to see every concern we had was dismissed, even physical concerns that had been confirmed previously by medical exam had magically disappeared today. Wow this pair truly are miracle workers.

So we are left to seek a second opinion on the physical stuff and cool our heals over the the developmental stuff having no option but to go with team we have the misfortune of living near. But once again we are looking at houses in other NHS trust areas to escape the parade of questionable care we have recently been subjected to, sadly its not an option right now but as soon as it is they won't see us for dust.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

With a little help from friends.

Having been in hospital last week, facing a barrage of tests coming up, increasing in size and awkwardness and lacking in sleep I have found the temptation to sit at home and hide under the duvet with sky TV or a grey's anatomy box set until the baby arrives immense. Of course I've been foiled at every attempt by a clingy son, the need to food shop and finally after rushing out to buy season 4 of Lost of DVD I was gutted to discover that the second disc is totally out of sync (something which drives me mad) and descends into a screen of chaotic pixels every now & again. Which I wouldn't mind if it was a cheap copy but it wasn't.

Of course I could have wallowed in misery further after all this, my son is normally quite happy to join me in bed as long as he's getting a cuddle, however my lovely friends have been determined to get me going, or keep me going. Straight after getting home some fantastically generous people from our church delivered nutritious home cooked meals to us for 3 nights in a row, in addition to cooking for their own hungry families. We have also had lots of lovely supportive phone calls and invites of help with the children.

Despite feeling a bit worn out we've made the effort to get out & about with the kids, a good friend helped me to realise that much as I might want to sit & watch TV they are not so keen and would rather get out for even five minutes and expend some energy than sit and vegetate! So yesterday we had a short simple trip to the local library with the kids and to meet some friends.

Out to the library

Books are fortunately one of our kids's great passions so in addition to getting to circle around a new environment and meet some new friends and some old ones they had a great opportunity to browse bookshelves bigger than them.

Today we all got dressed up smart (I even put some make up on) to go to church, my husband has insisted I go every week now so he doesn't have to face the 'has she had the baby yet?' questions if I am absent. We listened to a sermon about giving and have to admit to being somewhat ashamed that we have not met our tithe recently. Having seen our earnings drop by in excess of £400 a month in the last year and having a new baby on the way we have been more concerned with ensuring our car payment was made, and not to mention that we could buy the latest Lost DVD boxset, than joyfully giving our finances over to God. It would be fair to say that it pricked my conscience somewhat.

On the way home my 3 year old shouted out that he could see a rainbow, in all honesty I didn't believe him at all but then did catach sight of the most amazingly huge and complete rainbow I have ever seen.

God's promise

The photographs don't do it justice reallly, at all. As soon as she saw it my 6 year old gasped that it was to remind us that God always keeps his promises. A timely reminder to all of us we felt.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Enjoying lightroom 2, and the kids toys...

I was recently persuaded by a review in a photography magazine to download a trial of lightroom 2. Already being an enthusiastic user of lightroom I could not see what additional benefits it would offer over my combination of lightroom and photoshop as my routine for processing is to fix any exposure/white balance problems in lightroom and run and b&w conversions then export to PS for watermarking and any other kind of editing needed. Although this can be a frustrating process when LR's develop module hung and continually exported the wrong image I was happy with that and wondered what improvements could be made for another version.

Well, the main advantage for me in my 5 days of trial use has been ability to apply a vignette to a cropped image and the changes to the crop overlay it's self allow for easier size ration selection etc.

The first image below was edited in lightroom version 1:

massacre in the night garden

The next image was edited with lightroom version 2 using the same action:

in the night garden siege ended

Although it used the same preset the results are quite different because of the ability to apply vignette post-crop.

Not certain yet whether I will spring for the full version once my trial has ended, it depends on whether it become indispensable between now + then. The only teething difficultly is that as I do not have the option financially to also spring for PS CS4 lightroom 2 will not open and export images to CS3 for editing. However, version 1 so frequently exported the wrong image and hung that it may be quicker to export a file and open it myself anyway.

And go on admit it any mother of pre-school children, you have been desperate to take revenge on the characters of 'In the night garden' for years and are very jealous that I have had a therapeutic morning of character squishing in the name of testing a new version of lightroom out!

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Onwards again.

After a bad experience at our local hospital last week I was a bit nervous about heading back to our out of town option this morning for a consultant appointment. Not that I thought they would be as bad but was not relishing the prospect of trying to explain what had gone on last week to a team who had no access to my notes from the time and nothing but my word for it.

It didn't get off to a great start as half way there in morning rush hour traffic we realised I had left my hand held maternity notes on the sofa and had to arrange for my mother to go get them and meet my husband at the half way point, which meant I'd have to be dumped on antenatal on my own to wait for the verdicts.

Other than these hiccups it actually went really well, there was no pulling of hair our over lack of notes and no patronising assertion, as had been suggested several time by the other hospital, that sitting on the floor putting my son's shoes on cause a panic attack which lasted 12 hours.

To counter act a panic attack on the part of my son at the thought a doctor or nurse might suddenly kidnapp his mother we had a lovely walk around the park to take some pictures and were very nicely blessed with some fab winter sunshine!

So onto the next weeks worth of medical intervention, a 24 hour ECG trace, a glucose tolerance test, a cardiac echo and follow up next week. Phew! Well at least we are paying tax to finance all these NHS hours....

swirls ~ HBW

Sunday, 19 October 2008

First the good points....

Having a had a bit of a stress this week we found ourselves once again in the care of our local hospital, anyone who knows us knows where that is, I won't name & shame but anyone who wants pre-warning please feel free to e-mail me and I'll let you know which it was.

After having lunch and just getting ready for work for no reason my heart started pounding in my chest, very fast & very hard. After 10 minutes it didn't slow down and my husband could see it beating from across the room so we decided a trip to hospital might be in order. Its at this point we are always faced with the same decision; where? We are equidistant from 2 hospitals but live within the borders of one health care trust who we, ironically, have never trusted. The list of reasons is long and monumental, going back years to before our children were even born. So in that moment we have to decide whether to go with our slightly closer local A&E or travel 5 minutes longer and go to the trust in which we trust and where we are booked to deliver our third child. In the end we decided to go local only because the hospital from the other trust has an A&E which is in a separate building from antenatal care so we thought (wrongly, obviously) that going to our local hospital where its all together would mean the baby would be looked after too.

Before I chronicle the list of health care crimes that ensure I will NEVER cross the doors of that hospital again unless I am unconscious in an ambulance and have no choice I will point out that: the triage nurse wasted no time and immediately took me to an area to be monitored after seeing what my vitals were, its the first time I have ever been to said hospital and not felt like they couldn't care less about what I was saying and that I was out the door before I had finished my sentence, the doctors and nurses in A&E kept us informed and up to date with what they were doing all the time and I saw several different doctor in ascending rank from the same team so they had obviously sought and taken advise from other members of the team.

Once I was admitted and transferred from A&E though it all went down hill rapidly. The staff on the late shift were lovely but massively over stretched dealing with wandering dementia patients, dying patients, patients with learning difficulties who had no carers accompanying them as well as the usual level of sickness and pain you would expect. One nurse told me she had been assaulted by patients on 5 separate occasions that day. I wouldn't have blamed her for going home at that point. My first concern once I got to ward was if anyone would check on the health of our baby, we had had only 20 seconds of reassurance with a doppler in A&E, I was assured a midwife would come over during the evening and in the morning to check on her. He/she never materialised, I assume she is still wandering around geriatric wards looking confused when she cannot find a heartbeat in the stomach of an elderly patient who is full of wind.

The night shift staff were equally lovely, and equally thin on the ground. But that's no defense for the appalling lack of infection control practice, not only were patients with active diarrhoea and vomiting in an open bay and not a side room but during my 24 hours on the ward I only witnessed 2 hand washes in all that time. Nurses and auxiliaries went round from bed 1 to bed 6 doing drug rounds and observation rounds from one patient to another without so much as a splash of water on their hands. Being the patient in bed number 6 I was left to wonder what sort of bug I would contract through my bed-number lottery, would it be MRSA or would I get off with a little vomiting bug?

To add insult to injury the overhead fluorescent lights were flicked on at 6.30am, well why not? The staff are awake why should the patients sleep? Its not like we had all been awake most of the night while drips alarmed ignored for long periods of time and our bay-mate vomited the night away?

The morning staff were an interesting bunch, seemingly unable to speak to patients directly, I found out I was being discharged when 2 nurses had a conversation at the bottom of my bed 'she's going home isn't she.....?'

So after being discharged we had a cup of tea at home and headed up to the other hospital to check on the baby, who is fine. The staff there were appalled by the treatment we had received and thankfully made any future decisions for us, 'don't bother going there, just come straight to us.'

Oh and the biggest irony..... the day I was admitted the self same hospital was all over the local papers for getting a top star rating and being so clean. The mind boggles it truly does.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Wave of light - babyloss awareness

wave of light 2008
Today is babyloss awareness day across the UK and the rest of the world. The aim of the wave of light is to help and allow parents to knowledge their losses and try to promote understanding of the impact of pregnancy loss and baby loss in the wider community. Over 250,000 parents suffer a miscarriage every year and around 17 babies a day are still born or die in the first 28 days of life. But statistics do not help you to understand the impact that such a loss has on a family.

Last year we lit candles for our angels, those of friends and those lost in the unit where I worked. Currently we are blessed to be 7 months pregnant waiting for our third child's safe arrival, God willing. The begining of the pregnancy was stressful and fraught with worry then at around 12 weeks we found out our baby number 3 started our as baby number 3 and baby number 4, but that one had quietly passed away to allow their sister a chance at life. So we thank you little one for the time we had with you and for quietly going to sleep and allowing your sister to continue to bring us blessings, we know she we always have a special angel looking after her.

Psalm 139:

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Peek-a-boo QE2

Or is that hide and seek? Last time the cunard liner Queen Elizabeth II was scheduled to sail up the river Tyne we jaunted down to South Shields to watch it, and we waited, and waited, and waited, and then waited some more. Then the kids got tired and annoyed so we went home and the ship came in a few minutes after we left, of course.

So happily this time she arrived on the Tyne at 7am and we were able to confirm that had actually taken place before heading off to see the humongous piece of metal.

Parked next to the normally impressive DFDS North Shields to Norway ferry everything else on the Tyne became suddenly dwarfed and took on the look of a child's toy. Its a shame the ship was not open to the public to have look-see, I suspect cunard don't trust us geordies with the luxurious interior...

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Great North Running

The first weekend in October in Newcastle means Great North Run time. Thousands of runners, probably millions of bottles of water, slices of orange and shrubbery-type toilet stops and of course for local residents like us the inability to drive anywhere at all, all day.

We have special front row tickets for the event every year as our house is less than a 10 minute walk from the half way mark, so what better opportunity to teach our kids about people doing self-less things for charity, I doubt there are many more self-less ways to raise money than to run a half marathon often times in fancy dress.

Always a great entertainment opportunity as well, about 30 seconds after I finished saying to my children that there was always a scooby-boo every year and they should try to spot him he ran passed. We also had a series of Batmans and Robins, Mr Men of a few varieties, fairies, goblins, and many other mystical characters. I would imagine just about every charity in the UK is represented and the run earns huge revenue for charities all over the country, even in this time of financial concern for many.

In amongst all the good feeling I have to say I was quite disgusted to witness the behaviour of severe local 'kids'. We witnessed them on several occasions throwing water randomly into the faces of runners, all very nice and refreshing if you choose to do it yourself I'm sure, but a jolt and a shock you don't need in the middle of a half marathon. I hope they did not spoil the experience of any of their victims or indeed their perception of the region by behaving like total idiots when they should be applauding with everyone else, especially as they are unlikely ever to get up from their games console and do anything for anyone other than themselves. I'm glad though to say that mindless morons like these are few and far between as the amount of runners and road-side support shows, a warning for them next year I will be quicker and have their photographs for everyone to see what a true idiot looks like.