Prescription Schism

“Pay £10 to see your GP…” today’s Daily Mirror exclaims, reporting the Royal College of Nursing’s vote to back charges for GP appointments. Beyond the understandably provocative headline, lesser informed cynics such as I aren’t surprised that this has come to pass. Not only because we’re under a Conservative administration, but because the state of the NHS has long emulated the level of basket case.

In England, as of April 1st 2014, the NHS prescription charge stood at £8.05 per item. My repeat script requires coverage for both lithium carbonate (Priadel) at 800mg per day and lamotrigine (Lamictal) at 200mg twice daily . Were it not for my Medical Exemption certificate I would be paying £16 per month for medication that has, arguably, kept me alive.

Curiously I’ve managed a kind of “3 for 2” deal – Lamictal was prescribed for my idiopathic epilepsy, but its often used to alleviate depressive episodes in bipolar affective “disorder”, for which I was prescribed Priadel many years after. In November 2012 Dr Sri wrote a script for an atypical antipsychotic, olanzapine. A third medication addressing the white noise paranoia hissing away in the background, and ultimately a fridge too far in terms of my pharmacotherapy.

That I declined to take the olanzapine is besides the point. My circumstances permit the expense of £24.15 a month, but chronic means chronic, and circumstances can change. I am grateful, I am humbled by the generosity of the British tax payer and, speaking as one of them; I am happy, I am proud that my taxes help provide coverage for others in turn.

But as noble as the National Health Service is, contemplation of its future is likely promote instances of immeasurable terror. I no longer see bipolarism as a disorder, a disease. Living with this disposition, and all of its nuances, I’m inclined to consider it more an immune response than a disease entity in its own right. Dr Sri and I disagree on this point, but his decency and intellect enabled us to work together for my benefit. A calm, reasonable and charismatic man; but also one who – in a stark moment I will never forget – expressed a morbid despair at the limits of the care he was able to provide.

To paraphrase comedian and practising GP Phil Hammond: the best thing the government can do is get out of the NHS. Dr Hammond has turned his hands to many things over the years, including a joint investigation into the disturbing treatment of NHS whistleblowers. Private Eye has, passim, reflected on the disastrously wasteful National Programme for IT – the biggest civilian IT of its kind anywhere in the world, and one reported to have squandered in excess of £12 billion or (as Mail Online noted) ‘…the salaries of more 60,000 nurses for a decade.’

I won’t calculate how many prescriptions that amount would cover. One wonders what Nye Bevan would make of the NHS today, especially since his party, of which I’m a lifelong supporter, has steered it into so many walls.  One expects a Conservative government to screw with the NHS, but its legacy as a force for the greater good is a jewel in Labour’s crown. Tony Blair’s grasp on the NHS suffered a snowballing degeneration, much like his sanity; and after Gordon’s reign of inanity the duty of care and restoration resides with David Cameron.

Or more specifically Jeremy Hunt. A Health Secretary who wanted to exclude celebrations of the NHS from Danny Boyle’s Olympic opening ceremony, has confidence in homeopathy, takes conspicuously ideological positions on abortion and privatisation and was – in the greatest Freudian slip in British broadcasting history – rightly identified as a cunt.

The NHS is in crisis. Depressingly, I cannot remember a time when it wasn’t in crisis. However I can also recall the many acts of dedication and professionalism and kindness that have shined through when it mattered the most. The rapid response of paramedics last week when I suffered one of my worst seizures. The home visits and mobility improvements my grandmother enjoyed. The extraordinary palliative care my aunt received last year as she was consumed by cancerous tumours.

There are practical benefits to the RCN’s considerations. For my part, however, I cannot escape the feeling that such a notion will afflict those the vision of a National Health Service best serves. Those of the most limited means, the poor, the disadvantaged, the disregarded. Those with mental health concerns can require a greater percentage of visits to the GP often long before any diagnosis is forthcoming.

Thankfully a follow up on the Mirror website reported the overwhelming rejection of the proposed motion. The cynic rises in me yet again. What comes next?

Rightfully, Bevan deserves the last word:

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Black Eyes

Here I am treading carefully. Trying not to stroke that much-thumbed fetich (paranoid psychosis) in the context of what I’m typing about; although I do have an almost preternatural focus on any tenuous form of synchronicity, so I guess this effort has already faltered.

Let me start again.

As a child of the 1990s, many of my formative years took on a paranormal hue. The X-Files had captured the popular imagination, and pre-millennial tension encouraged a resurgence in “New Age” philosophies and practices. Many people, frequently well-meaning and credulous, took such things to heart; and fostered enduring fascinations within their sons.

Their son recently encountered the ‘Black-Eyed Children.’ Not literally of course, because this rather delicious urban legend is tenuously weighted in reality. Often what repels or intimidates us births our keenest curiosity; and so it is with me and home invasion tales. Alien abduction was my greatest fear as a child; the certainty that I would be teleported from my room the second the lights went out.

Mysterious children, sometimes teens, arriving at your door and attempting to gain entry to your home. “Just let us in. This won’t take long” is a classic gambit, delivered in a hypnotic monotone. The intentions or actions of BECs remain unclear, should they ever cross your threshold. Similarly the rationale of two teenage girls, stabbing a third to appease the entirely fictional Slenderman, is desperately unfathomable.

Fox News took statements from locals regarding the normality and seeming balance of the attackers and their families. With little explanation or justification or causal links, we are again bereft; stranded with the knowledge that sometimes there are no reasons. Or that reasons defy anything rational, anything quantifiable. True horror comes out of sight, and I feel enormous sorrow for all of these children; victim and perpetrators.

Anthony Cotton, attorney for one of the attackers, remarked: “She’s 12 and she has mental health issues,” […] “There’s no questions that she needs to go to the hospital.” Those of a more Icarus bent might frown at the apparent self-evidence of this point. Clearly intervention is necessary, but such tragedies have occurred before and will unfortunately occur again, and it is foolish (dangerous even) to attempt to tie things off like this. No neat bows will get this done, though naturally Mr Cotton’s evocation was far more strategic.

I’ve been distracted I’ll admit, but the backlash against sites like Something Awful and Creepypasta has been relatively muted. And to their credit, Creepypasta posted this heartfelt, sympathetic and dignified statement on June 3rd which I urge anyone concerned about freedom of speech, net neutrality, self-expression or basic goddamn humanity to read:

Statement on the Wisconsin Stabbing.

 

Idiogenic

Well this hasn’t been the worse week ever. It hasn’t been starshine and handjobs either, but there’s plenty more suffering going around and try as I might, I just cannot feel sorry for myself. My week took dual skanas to the midriff – a morning in A + E followed by a day and a half of sleep. Limping, left arm left weak and the most hilarious part: my tongue is riddled with painful ulcers where I was chewing on it mid-seizure.

And yet I cannot feel sorry for myself.

I do not look after myself. Drink too much, smoke too much; though I do eat reasonably well. Exercise isn’t unfamiliar to me, but study my file and one word may come to mind. Balance. And balance isn’t necessarily a good thing. Weighed against an effort to be a responsible member of a team of dedicated and talented people are instincts and individual tendencies towards skull-fucking chaos.

It. Just. Happens. Even with a restful day and a full night’s sleep, I can still wind up on the ground, convulsing with blood pouring from my mouth. Within the past 6 months I’ve gone on all night benders with consequences limited to mild hangovers. Idiopathic Generalized Epilepsy is the largely redundant descriptive – emphasising the underlying genetic bases while simultaneous shrugging and moving onto something else.

Given that its Father’s Day tomorrow, its tempting to put a bullet in this week and move on. A selfish, childish aspect of me wants to bitch and whine and cry and scream and shout; but I don’t feel like I’ve been dealt a bad hand. A demented one perhaps, but on the ranking of human misery I barely register. I just know that I’m not living a life I want to be living, but my head isn’t hammering on the ground so things could literally be worse.

 

Anderson takes part in an experiment to help understand how people live with mental illness

A decent fascination – Anderson Cooper hearing voices…

Anderson Cooper 360

Mental illness often makes headlines after tragedies like last week’s deadly shooting at Seattle Pacific University. A number of mental illnesses, including schizophrenia, can cause auditory hallucinations. It’s important to know that only a tiny number of people who hear voices engage in violence of any kind. Anderson took part in an experiment to help people understand how others live with mental illness experience everyday. Anderson wore headphones that simulate hearing voices while trying to do everything from puzzles to simply interacting with people in the street.

Clinical psychologist Pat Deegan designed the experiment. She was diagnosed with schizophrenia as a teenager.

[cnn-video url=http://www.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/bestoftv/2014/06/10/ac-deegan-on-schizophrenia-experiment.cnn.html]

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Meat Free May: Continuance.

And so to you, the first day of June. At the start of Meat Free May I would’ve anticipated things to resemble 30 Days of Night by now.

Truth is, I’ve really enjoyed this whole vegetarian thing. Correlation don’t always equal causation; but I do feel better, and I haven’t missed eating meat in any way I might have expected. So many things have changed in the last few months, and diet is always one you need to look at. I’ve been looking at mine and I think the less animal parts the better.

The month may have ended, but the donation page will be online for a little while longer. Thanks to everyone who’s supported this, one way or another.

Namaste.