Thursday, 20 October 2016

Marking Baby Loss Awareness Week

Last week was International Baby Loss Awareness Week and as part of marking that, the House of Common held the first ever debate on issues around the UK's stillbirth rate and the care offered to bereaved parents along with what is being (or needs to be) done to reduce the numbers.  Many of the MP's present shared heart wrenching stories of their own children who had died and their ongoing pain over these bereavements.  

And then, MP Nicholas Soames, who is one of the patron's of Group B Strep Support spoke to the House about the work of Group B Strep Support and how much more needs to be done to prevent these infections.  He was (quite rightly!) very complimentary about the work of the charity and founders Jane and Robert Plumb, sharing the story of their son Theo's death just over twenty years ago from Group B Strep.  

He reminded the House how shocking the statistics are: on average, one baby a day becomes infected with Group B Strep in the UK, one baby a week will die and one baby every two weeks will survive with long term disabilities.

Then he said these words, which had me wanting to stand and cheer:

"I do have what can only be described as issues with the Department of Health on this matter...most of these infections could and should be prevented.  The parents of these precious babies and their wider families then have to live with the consequences of their babies unnecessarily horrible illness for the rest of their lives."

He then continued by reminding the House that the government has unnecessarily delayed introducing GBS screening with these words:

"I have represented this issue to governments of both complexions and I have to say that it has been an uphill, generally unrewarding and pretty lowering experience...since 9th July 2003, I have dealt five Ministers, all of whom have promised prompt action on this issue, and all of which have been unacceptably slow for reasons which I, the charity, parents involved in this issue and, I think, mothers to be would find pretty hard to understand in any objective examination..."

This speech is worth watching in it's entirety and I genuinely hope that raising awareness in Parliament will add pressure to get things moving on publicly funded Group B Strep testing for pregnant women.  

It's time and past time.

You can see his speech on Group B Strep Support's website here:

Sunday, 9 October 2016

What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger....

You know how many people say, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger"?  

I'm coming to despise that phrase.  Because while it may be technically true, it proves the universe has a very dark sense of humour.  

Any particular reason why I'm saying that?  Why yes, as a matter of fact, there is.  Currently, this is my leg:

You may have noticed that one side is slightly different from the other as it's encased in a neon pink plaster cast from the knee down.  Yes, that's right just two years after breaking my right foot, I've now succeeded in breaking my left foot.  

Was I doing some kind of spectacularly adventurous activity or even a really stupid trick?  Nope, nothing remotely interesting like that.  I was walking.  Yup, just walking.  At college in fact, from the dining hall to the classroom to start the first lecture of a two-day residential training course, as part of my curacy training.  Chatting to a friend and colleague and as we walked I felt something go PING in my foot - akin to an overstretched elastic band snapping.  

Although the pain was immediate, I honestly thought I'd just strained something and it would fade so I limped into the classroom, took some painkillers and sat there for the next hour and a half of lectures.  But every time I so much as touched my foot to the floor, it felt like I was being given an electric shock, the pain was so intense.  Finally, at coffee break, I owned up and asked for help at which point my lovely tutors and friends swung into action, getting me first into a wheelchair, then a taxi and with a tutor to escort me, to the Queen's A&E department just round the corner.

Thankfully, the wait was minimal and I was cycled through triage, an examination with a doctor and then a hellish x-ray.  Hellish because sadly while the radiographer was very friendly, he didn't seem able to give me verbal instructions on where he wanted me to position my foot, instead he insisted on pushing and pulling it into position.  And despite my pleas that he stop, at one point he dug his thumbs directly into the part that I later found out was broken.  I screamed and burst into tears at which point, he started effusively apologising but by then, the damage was done.

In the end however, the Xray showed that one of my metatarsals is broken and so a full plaster cast it is.  The initial temporary cast (a half cast to allow for swelling) was replaced at Shrewsbury the following day by a long-term full cast and to add insult to injury, I'm non weight bearing so have to hop around on crutches.  

Oh, and let's not forget that because my mobility is suddenly vastly reduced by being on crutches, I have to inject my tummy with tinzaparine every day to prevent blood clots and DVT - something I'm now at high risk for.  One of the side effects of tinzaparine can be a feeling of excessive itchiness either localised or generalised across the body.  I'm so glad in my case that it's the latter...I was beginning to fear I had fleas.

This of course means I can't drive (so I can't work) and I also can't be alone with Adam.  It's not safe for him or for me as I can't react the way I normally would do in order to keep him safe.  The added complication is that he alternates between curiosity about foreign objects in his environment to aggression towards them and so "exploring" my cast could very quickly translate to hitting it.  Hence the need for another adult to supervise him.  He's already managed to make me scream once when he poked the cast and announced, "PINK!"

Thankfully, for this week we've managed to get Carer's to cover a majority of Adam's school runs and after school care, and a couple of lovely friends have stepped in to cover the gaps so Chris will still be able to work.  Next week?  Well we'll take that one as it comes.  

After first lot of surgery.  He has rather less fur now...

So not content with a seriously ill cat who has had two lots of surgery in the last month, is currently on four types of medication - over objections, hence the hole in my thumbnail left by his teeth, and having cost us over £2,300 which the insurance has yet to reimburse - now the universe grants us this.  

What doesn't kill us makes us stronger huh?  Well fantubbytastic!  Sigh....