Sunday, May 04, 2014

Panorama - Care Home for the Elderly

A few days ago we watched the much publicised Panorama programme about care homes for the elderly. It was distressing viewing to say the least. I don't know what was worse - seeing patients being physically abused or the degrading manner in which they were treated or the way the staff took every last piece of dignity from them. This is an article here, written in the Daily Mail last week.

My husband and I watched the programme in horror and disgust and neither of us have been able to stop thinking about it since. All we could think was "thank goodness that none of our parents are in a care home".

A hidden camera had been placed in a 98 year old woman's room by her grand-daughter. The old lady, who seemed like a fairly young 98 year old, had told her grand-daughter that some of the care home staff were mistreating patients. Without saying anything, the grand-daughter placed a hidden camera in the room. What was filmed was beyond shocking.

The old lady could no longer walk unaided, and had called for a nurse to help her up out of bed to go to the bathroom one evening. The poor woman was becoming distressed when nobody appeared. She kept calling out and two and a half hours later, a carer (this was her job title....definitely not a carer by definition) came to her room and asked why she wanted to get up. The lady asked for help to go to the bathroom and the carer refused and told her "you're wearing a pad - just do it where you are." The lady was shocked and seemed horrified at the thought of doing that. She begged the carer to help her, but the carer ignored her plea. She left the room, switched off the light and left this poor lady in distress. The lady again called out, and eventually the carer came back with a colleague and this time they did get her out of the bed. But they expected her to walk alone. She was then chastised and ridiculed for being unable to walk, then put back to bed very roughly and told yet again to just use the pad.

I can't even begin to explain just how distressing it was to watch. That poor woman was 98 and still wanted to retain some dignity, but those carers stole that from her.

Thankfully, the film footage was shown to police and charges were brought against the staff. The old lady passed away just days after that incident. Her grand-daughter had told her about the camera having filmed her and the lady was so pleased because she felt it would help put a stop to treatment like this, so it could help other patients.

Hidden cameras discovered a lot of bad treatment, however, they also showed that there were some nice staff, who deserved the title "carer". Sadly though, the bad will always overshadow the good. People with family in care homes will probably always wonder just what kind of carers are looking after their loved ones.

Should it be necessary to put a hidden camera in all the rooms? Seems very Big Brotherish, but is it the way to ensure that someone is getting the proper care and attention they deserve? Perhaps some of the staff in these care homes need to be aware that there could be a camera somewhere, making them more aware of their actions.

Being a carer in a home for the elderly cannot be an easy job, and is probably not well enough paid. But surely the job title "carer" should give a clue to what they are expected to do. Some people would admit that they are not suited to that job, and that is not a crime. But to do the job badly is a crime.

Hopefully programmes like this will help towards giving people a better future in care homes. Surely everyone deserves compassionate care and to be allowed to keep their dignity for as long as possible. Surely that is everyone's right.

There will always be bad apples in all walks of life. But hopefully there will always be more good than bad. And hopefully, people will look after the vulnerable in society to ensure they only get good apples.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Spring Has Sprung

Blue sky and sunshine here, so I've been outside just enjoying it. Don't get weather like this too often, so not missing an opportunity to get some natural Vitamin D.

Been really lovely - not a cloud in the sky, with the sun in my eyes. I'm sure those words could be turned into a good song...

Sometimes it is nice to take some time out of life, relax, and just enjoy something you love. Some people love hustle and bustle. I love silence.

So silence, with the added bonus of having sunshine, has kept me smiling over the last few days.

I suppose I could say it makes me feel on top of the world....

Wish I could sing like Karen Carpenter. Actually, I really just wish I could sing! Husband wishes I would stop singing....

Anyway, back to being outside, in the peace and quiet, no noise other than from nature itself. The birds have been singing, bees buzzing, leaves rustling in the peaceful.

The garden is full of daffodils and our hens have started laying again. So that is a sure sign that Spring has definitely sprung.

We only have six hens now. They are three years old now, and still giving us eggs. Only problem is that they keep changing their minds about where to lay their eggs. So while other people have been doing Easter egg hunts over the last few days, we have been doing real egg hunts. I was lucky enough on Sunday to find a nest with six lovely eggs....and two pheasant eggs as an added extra. The pheasants must have decided they liked that spot for laying too.

There is nothing to beat fresh, free range eggs. During the winter, when the hens stop laying, we take it ill out when we have to buy eggs. I pay extra to buy free range, but they are never the good as our own. Maybe it's because we know ours really are free range...

Friday, March 21, 2014

What's Worse Than Spam?

I once wrote a blog post about how much I hate spam. Well, there is something else I really hate even more than spam. Can look a bit like spam, even sounds like spam....but it is worse than spam.

The internet must be like a playground to scammers. Some of them are very clever. They do their research, find the right audience and find a weak point. Then they prey...

People with illnesses and disabilities are often that target audience. We have a weak point....we don't want to be ill or have a disability. We want a cure, we want to get better, we will try almost anything. So the scammers throw us a line and reel us in.

Whether they try to sell us supplements with amazing claims that they will cure nerve pain, or some new fangled machine which will do wonders for our painful bodies, they shout out one word : SCAM

Their websites normally have testimonials written by "clients" actual fact, those testimonials are often made up by the company.

When we started our Trigeminal Neuralgia awareness page, a young woman came onto the page and said she used a certain (very expensive) supplement and her TN was cured. She claimed to have lots of friends with TN, and they used the supplement too, and they were all cured. Amazing! Truth was that she didn't even know what Trigeminal Neuralgia was, and she knew nobody with the condition. She eventually admitted to me that the testimonials on the website were all fake. Every single one. She was trying to make some extra money by generating business. She came to the wrong awareness page that day.

I am not suggesting that all supplements are made by companies who prey on vulnerable people. Some supplements are good, and some may help things like nerve pain. But, people should check the company out, and ask doctors or pharmacists if they are safe to take, especially when taking other meds. Some herbal supplements can interfere with many meds, so it is always best to be safe.

Something else I came across this week is a clinic using laser therapy. Their website claims that their laser therapy will cure Trigeminal Neuralgia.

  • Proof that their therapy can cure TN is in the testimonials. (Yes, the testimonials which they have possibly made up)
  • They claim their laser is ten times stronger than an other laser. (I'm not sure if this is good or bad)
  • If you have medical insurance, it will not cover laser treatment.
  • If you want to know how much this laser therapy costs, they will not tell you until you have a consultation.
  • They say that you will normally have two thirty minute treatments per day possibly over three weeks. (Surely they should be able to give a price if it is a set length of time for a session)
  • They say it is a cure for TN, yet they say that if it does not work the first time, you can have another round of treatments for half price. (That would be if you have any money left after the first round of treatments)
  • Oh, and you can enjoy the area and stay in a lovely hotel while you are there. (The hotels in the area must love this clinic)

I have seen people ask about this laser therapy....people with TN see that word CURE and think it could change their lives. TN isn't just about pain, it can ruin people's lives. They become desperate for a cure. They use their savings, take out loans, sell their possessions.....they would pay anything for a cure.

Except, this doesn't seem to be curing those people. People have lost thousands of dollars, pinning their hopes on being pain free, but after the treatment, they have the same pain (sometimes worse), and empty bank books.

I don't know enough about laser therapy to know whether or not it can actually help anyone. It may help some people. My husband told me last night that someone he knows had accidentally left his laser torch switch on. It burnt a hole in the wooden table. So I don't think I would like to try laser therapy, especially with the knowledge that their laser is ten times stronger than any other.

I know that there are no real cures out there for Trigeminal Neuralgia. The Facial Pain Research Foundation is trying to find a cure, and we can rest assured that when they do, it will go through the correct channels of being tested etc before it reaches us.

I really hate knowing that people are out their trying to take advantage of people who live with illness and disabilities. Scammers are the lowest of the low, they prey on vulnerable people. They give people hope, they take their money, but they do not cure people.

When we see the word "cure" on an advert or website, we all need to be very cautious. Ask questions, ask doctors, look out for one another.....we need to ensure that people are not taken in by those false claims.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Coping Mechanisms

When living with chronic pain, life can by tiring, frightening and frustrating.

A chronic pain patient has to learn ways of coping. It can become an emotional battleground, fighting against feelings of fear, anxiety, depression and even guilt. They have to find ways of relaxing and trying to clear their mind from the pain which can so easily take over their life. They have to find a way of keeping their identity so they do not become lost to their pain. Their pain must only be part of them - it cannot be allowed to take over.

The same applies for people living with someone else's chronic pain. Whether they are the patient's partner, parent, child or friend, their life can also be tiring, frightening and frustrating. In some ways, perhaps more so. They can get tired of watching the person they love struggle, frightened of the future, frightened of never seeing that person be free of pain. The frustration and guilt at times must be overwhelming, because they can do little, or sometimes nothing, to make that person's life easier.  It can be soul destroying for someone seeing a loved one in constant pain.

They also have to find ways of coping and relaxing so that they can also clear their mind of the pain. It is possibly even more important that they do this, so that they can continue to support the person they love.

Living with pain is certainly not easy....but living with someone else's pain is possibly even more difficult.

I have always been lucky. I think there is something in my genes which makes me just accept my pain for what it is, and cope with it as best I can. Maybe because I have grown up with pain, I simply don't know anything different, so I can just accept it more easily than some people who have had a normal life, then suddenly develop a chronic illness or condition. They then have a huge adjustment to make and have to learn to deal with that along with physical and emotional problems associated with their condition.

When I look at my life, I try not to focus on the negative parts. That would drag me down....and I can't let that happen. In fact, I think I try to take the negatives and turn them into something positive. Most of my blog posts are about my face pain, which is an extremely negative aspect of my life, so it could be said that I focus on that too much.....but my reason for focussing on that is to bring much needed awareness about Trigeminal Neuralgia. This helps myself as well as other people with the condition. That is my way of turning something very negative into something positive.

So my pain may be negative, but if I can take something positive from it, it helps me to deal with it.

I also look around me every day and find reasons to smile, and there are always plenty of reasons. I smile because I love where I live. I smile because I love that crazy guy I am married to. I smile because my family mean so much to me. I smile because my eight year old fox-red labrador still tries to climb up beside me for a cuddle. I smile when the cat talks to me (she does....she really does!)

I smile because I have started drawing again. I smiled because Ian made a pot of chicken soup this afternoon and it is delicious. There was a glimpse of sunshine and blue sky while I was out shopping...that made me smile thinking that Spring is somewhere just around the corner. Then on the way home, I saw the snow on the hills......that made me smile too because they just look beautiful covered in snow.

There is always something to smile about.

My life can be tiring, frightening and frustrating, but finding things to smile about, I think, is my coping mechanism. That is what helps get me through life.

Everybody living with pain (whether their own, or someone else's) has to find their own coping mechanism.

Finding it is the hard part, but once found, life can become so much easier.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Grow Your Blog Party 2014

Hi there, my name is Liz, and I want to say hello to any new readers and welcome to my blog "Rambling Prose".

I don't go to many parties these days, so when I read about the 'Grow Your Blog Party', I really didn't want to miss it. The idea of this party is for bloggers to meet other bloggers. A big thank you to Vicki from  who came up with the brilliant idea of the Grow Your Blog party. She must have worked her fingers to the bone over the last few weeks organizing this.

It's a party with a difference.....I don't need to plan anything, I don't need a new outfit, I don't even need to leave the house. That sounds right up my street. Actually, I don't live in a street. I live amongst the hills of the Scottish Borders. Beautiful and peaceful. My little piece of heaven on earth.

So here I am. Ready to party! I'm looking forward to meeting some other bloggers, but I guess I should maybe let people know a little bit about me and why I blog.

Red, a fox red labrador
As I said, I live in Scotland, surrounded by beautiful scenery, with my husband, dog, cat and a few hens. A lot of sheep too, but they're not ours. I don't think a day goes past without me looking out the window and realising just how lucky I am to be living here.

I started blogging back in October 2011 with this post Everybody's Doing It.... My words then were that the novelty of me writing a blog will no doubt wear off and Rambling Prose will probably fade away into obscurity before too long. Well, it didn't. My blog has let me have a place to have a rant, have a laugh, have a cry. I have posted poems and stories about my life and if I am honest, I have shared more about myself on my blog than I probably would ever have dreamt.

I don't work due to health issues. I have lived with chronic, disabling pain for most of my life now. I have scoliosis of my lower back and it has caused me a lot of problems. I had struggled with work for so long, kept trying to force my way through each day, but almost twenty years ago, by the age of 28, my back just took charge and said 'no more!' I hadn't been listening to what it was telling me, so it made me listen. I had been married for two years at that point, and now I was being forced into early retirement. Sometimes it's as though we have no choices in life. So what to do? Moan and groan about it, or accept it with a smile? I try to do the latter.

Along with the back problems, I have always suffered from migraines and facial pain. It was like I had a constant headache in my face, and constant toothache in several teeth. Numerous dentists checked and there were no problems. This started to really drag me down a few years ago. That pain was becoming so much worse, and I just couldn't ignore it. I was in constant agony, walking around with my hand over my face. It was just so painful. Eventually, a doctor diagnosed it as Trigeminal Neuralgia. This meant the start of a long journey trying various meds to help. And they do help...a bit. (Sometimes only seem to help a small bit, but better that than no help at all)

I had never heard of the condition before. So I got home and looked it up online and found out it is supposed to be very rare, then I discovered Facebook's many Trigeminal Neuralgia support groups. Didn't seem so rare after that. I met loads of new friends all suffering with this same facial pain. Just over a year ago, two friends and I set up an awareness page on Facebook, End Trigeminal Neuralgia, where we try to help people by giving support and information about the condition. We also have a few videos on you tube, "Faces Behind The Pain" being one of them.

We just keep hoping that awareness can bring about the means for a cure some day. We live in hope.

The scary thing about living with chronic pain is that it takes over your life. It's almost as though you begin to lose yourself. Sometimes it's as if I have a name tag pinned to my head saying, 'Liz Chronic Pain' I don't like that and I am really trying to lose that name tag. There is more to me than my pain, but it does need to come first. If I don't put my pain first, it will always creep up and catch me out. And I'm getting too old to be caught out like that.

I guess that one of the positives of not working due to a disability is that you have lots of free time. Sometimes too much time. When I first gave up work, I started doing needlework. Tapestry, embroidery and cross-stitch. I enjoyed it, and loved seeing a few threads evolving into a piece of art. But (there always seems to be a but) I developed very painful finger joints, so had to give up on that.

At one point I started going to an art class and loved it. Really, really loved it. My back eventually made me stop going to the class, but I still pottered about myself at home with the paints. But the last few years have been pretty hard going pain wise, so I am afraid I haven't been doing much with that. But...and this is a good but...this year I really want to get back to painting.

I don't just want to.

I need to.

It's time to get "Liz" back........minus that name tag.

But for now, I am off to do a bit of blog reading to see who else is at this party.....

If you would like to follow my ramblings, please click the link to join at the right hand side.

Friday, January 10, 2014

It's nice to be nice.....

Seems to have been raining non-stop for the last week or so, thankfully has eased off a bit now. So, since a trip to the supermarket was needed today, I got the boots and coat on, and off I went this afternoon.

On the way out of the valley, a car was coming towards me, and I thought I recognized it. So I gave a nice wee friendly someone I have never seen before in my life.  He probably drove by wondering if he should know me, or possibly he thought all the locals must be really friendly. Or perhaps he thought I was just a crazy woman who waves to strangers. (No comments allowed about me being crazy!) But the thing is, if it had been someone I knew, and I hadn't waved, they would have wondered why.

Actually, it reminded me of when I was a wee girl. My Gran lived just a few houses away from us, and as I walked past her house, I always waved. I couldn't see my Gran, but hated to think of her having been looking out and seeing me not waving. So I always waved.

I was also always smiling and saying hello to people.

I can remember going to the wee shop at the bottom of our road one day. I probably had two pence to spend, so was extremely happy. The wee shop had trays of sweets of various prices and two pence could go a long way back in those days. Parma violets, refreshers, love hearts, shrimps, black jacks, fruit salads, sherbet dips, flying saucers (I could go on......)

Anyway, as I was merrily skipping down to the shop, I passed a lady (I was going to say an elderly lady, but thinking about it, since I was very young, she was possibly no older than thirty-five), I gave her a smile and said hello. She said hello back to me, then asked if I knew her, because she didn't think she knew me. I replied that I didn't know her but I just liked saying hello to people and then skipped off to spend my fortune.

I still do it, I still go around smiling, saying hello and, yes, waving at strangers. Now people probably look at me and wonder what I've been up to, or wonder why I have a glaikit look on my face. But I am past the age of caring what people think.

My Papa used to have a saying "It's nice to be nice" I totally agree with him, and I think it's nice share a smile with someone, even a stranger....actually, especially a stranger. It can be a cruel and lonely world for some people, and a smile, a wave or a friendly hello could make a difference to their day. I think one of my favourite sayings is 'If you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours.'

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Price of Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas and the shops were still busy
The hustle and bustle would make you dizzy
No cash to be seen but credit cards appear
No expense is will be paid for next year

The must have items have gone down a treat
Christmas for the bosses will be so sweet
Tonight they are rubbing their hands with glee
Because they'll find a bonus under their tree

But what of the customers who've shopped at their stores?
They dread the bills coming through their doors
Some will pay it off throughout the next year
And some will be depressed with worry and fear

Some say the tv adverts are to blame
Telling the kids about a new X box game
The latest whatever, that they really do need
They look to their parents....and then they plead

So some parents will try their best to please
Sometimes getting in debt up to their knees
They can't let their child be the one without
But is this what Christmas is all about?

The shops, the banks, the taxman as well
They love the money, love its smell
They encourage everyone to spend, spend, spend
And when there's no money, they'll even lend

Perhaps it's time for a change next year
To make Christmas simply about good cheer
About love, about families and about sharing
Because shouldn't Christmas be a time for caring?
E. Sirrell 24/12/13

I hope everyone has a truly happy, caring & sharing Christmas. Thank you for reading my blog, for allowing me to share a little part of me.