Friday, 17 June 2011

I visited the Cumberland Infirmary yesterday! No, not to talk, I had an appointment in ENT. Last year I had a hearing test and this was a follow up appointment to see what the change had been like over that period. One of my daughters came with me as she has been visiting for a few days.

We took the opportunity to visit the proposed site of the demonstration and I hope the weather is as nice as it was yesterday! I see it that if we fail to get any response from the NHS Trust over this matter, then they will feel that they never have to respond to any public health concern ever. Are you happy with their response so far?

My fears were heightened that this might be the case when I met someone in the car park who is well connected at the hospital and who I know from previous meetings. It was a friendly discussion and I got a clear feeling of support in their voice. However, the news wasn't good! The Trust have decided to do a complete lock down of 'no comment' to everyone until this "takes it's natural course". 

I couldn't help but relate that quote to my cancer experience there just 12 months ago today! Yes, today on a lovely sunny June morning I was saying goodbye to everyone at University, having just finished my access course, and passing with distinction. Little did I know that later that afternoon, I would be standing traumatised outside the hospital, having just received the news that I had cancer.

Funny thing is, I wouldn't change things if I could. One year on I am happier than I have ever been. I see in colour now, not black and white. I see detail and appreciate everything, absorbing as much as I can wherever I go. I've wasted so much time in the past just letting life drift by thinking that 'there's always tomorrow'. How stupid, but it's only when tomorrow doesn't become a certainty that you realise how precious a day is. Can you learn that without being told you might die? I don't think so, but tell me if you feel differently. I have made so many new friends and been privileged to help so many others along this uncertain path, but there is work to be done because the NHS that saved my life has more parasites than a ships cat.

My appointment went very well, as most appointments at the Infirmary have for me in the past. Having had my ears tested by a nurse with a lovely Scottish accent, I then went in to see the consultant. He was a really funny guy who explained everything in such detail and had my daughter and I in stitches at the same time. (well, you know what I mean!) He asked me what had happened in my life to damage the upper frequencies in my ears. I told him that it started with the Army, wearing no ear protection when firing rifles, throwing grenades and standing next to active artillery and tank fire. His jaw dropped! Then there was the discos and pop concerts where I preferred to stand in front of the speakers which were always taller than me, and often loosened my fillings as the skin and muscle on my face pulsated to the beat of the music! He said that I was OK with lower frequencies but I would find it easier talking to men than women. When I explained that I had 5 daughters, he suggested that they all try lowering their pitch when talking to me! This cracked up my daughter who started speaking an octave lower for the next hour.

So I was discharged with no hearing aid necessary and I was told that I had already learnt naturally to partially lip read and that my brain would just guess the missing words that I couldn't hear, based on the context of the sentence. I didn't know I was so clever! I will struggle to hear sounds like 'shhh' or 'thhh' so 'lass' will sound like 'la' and 'think' will sound like 'ink'. I guess I will always assume that if I hear the sound 'it' that it is just a two letter word!

An organisation like the North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, doesn't have a hearing problem. Backed by a heafty PR and legal team it spends vasts amount of money making sure that it hears everything, it's 'image' always being more important than 'reality'. 

But do we want a group of people looking after the organisation of our health in Cumbria, who's apparant motto is 'Hear all, see all, say nowt'?

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