Sunday, 20 February 2011

My daughter Sasha , who lives in London, is going to the hairdressers next week, to have her hair returned to its natural colour. Guess how much? It costs me £7 when I go in Penrith, and it takes around 4 minutes. The guy who cuts my hair is from Iran, and he always remembers that I have a 3 on top and a 2 up the sides. I listen to Iranian pop music as he sheers me like a goat, and then whizzes the cut-throat razor like a helicopter blade around my ears and under my nose. He then blows all the loose hair from my head, and no matter how tight I have my shirt collar, he blows most of it straight into the gap, where it eventually settles in the belt-band of my underpants. He seats the next person as I'm getting my money out, and after checking there is no blood, I pay him. Sasha's hair experience will last 3 hours and cost £250! I could get an ear transplant for that!

If anyone discovers the whereabouts of my other 2 daughters in London, please send them my love and give them my contact details! :-) xxx

The Blog? It's about to become a book! Well that is as soon as I have found out how to achieve that. Having written and kept it it daily since diagnosis, I then slipped into weekly editions. Now, however, the frequency seems to be stretching and I am afraid it will just die one day, without anyone noticing. 

What will I call the book? Beverley suggested 'Prostate Cancer - My Waltz with the Angel of Death!' I like that. Researching how to do all this may take time, so get in touch if you have any previous knowledge of that kind of stuff. I'm told that 'self published books' never go anywhere. Is that true? How do you get a publisher interested? Maybe they won't be!

The British Legion sent me £100 in vouchers to spend at my local Morrison's. Why? Because I am an ex soldier and I had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Had I asked immediately for help, they would have paid for my travel and accommodation whilst attending Addenbrookes, but they will pay nothing retrospectively. Macmillan said exactly the same. They would have given me £500 if I had asked back in June last year, but nothing now. It's funny because back then, I was only thinking about cancer and if I would live or not, my expenses didn't come to mind! But hey, I'm just glad that things are working out for me just now and that Arsenal managed to beat Barcelona!

I have written to Helen Kelly today (Local hospital trust), asking when the enquiry there will be concluded. She was great when she came to our support group meeting a few weeks ago, even though she had a tough time from the audience. Unfortunately, being diagnosed with Prostate Cancer and living in Cumbria is still not a good idea. You have to head south if you want a chance of success. There are exceptions and there was just one at our meeting that evening, who was full of praise for the local hospital. The majority were very critical of the administrative set up, and communication with patients.

The thing that has made me more annoyed than anything over the past year, is how some Doctors and Consultants locally, just because they have that title, seem to think they are some irreproachable gods, aggrieved that they have to breathe the same air as us. If we speak and they don't agree, then we are wrong; that is their thinking!

This is a copy of a letter that I sent to my doctors practice last week.

18th February 2011
Dear Anne,
Thank you for answering my question in your letter of 9th February.
Having now corresponded extensively with the Cumberland Infirmary, where an enquiry is due to report back later this month, I have now come to a conclusion, and one which I would like you to share with the doctors at the Birbeck Medical Practice in Penrith.

From diagnosis on 18th June 2010 and until recently, the hospital has always assumed that my doctors had kept me informed of what was happening to me. In turn, my doctors had always assumed that the hospital was keeping me informed. In reality, I was not being kept informed adequately by either!

Any information that I received, by letter, at the surgery or by phone, was always instigated by myself and with often having to ‘badger’ for this information. Nobody was looking after my case, looking at my files to check where I was up to and how I was doing. I was just floating through a system, in charge of my own progress. This left me in a terrible state of anxiety for long periods of time. I suppose it comes mainly from having a modern practice, where a patient doesn’t have a dedicated doctor anymore. We all see a different practitioner every time, so no doctor feels that intimate responsibility for his or her patient.  A pool of doctors, looking after a sea of people!

As I said from the outset, my intention was not to get anything out of this, other than to make doctors and hospitals realise that their systems do have faults, and we the patient, are not always wrong when trying to highlight these.

Yours Sincerely

Daniel Sencier.

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