This wasn’t the post I intended to write, but that is so often the way when you open your brain and dump its contents out in front of you. Much of it I nearly deleted, then thought again and decided to go with it. I’m not normally a political person, but I am a lover of history and two so often find themselves entwined. I guess the subject I had in mind will have to wait now until tomorrow.
There are things about our own bodies that we don’t discover until something odd makes us aware. We, I suppose rightly, wonder along through life in the belief that each side of our bodies is a perfect mirror image of the other. I knew thanks to TV that it wasn’t, but that belief still held on as it’s somehow logical that they are. For months I have been fighting with ear plugs, if you don’t get them correctly located in your ear, they simply don’t work. Nightly, I fight with my left ear, trying over and over to get the angle correct. My right ear, no problems, not once has it not slid straight in and stayed exactly where it should. Last night I got so frustrated with it that I decided to go totally against my own mantra about not sticking things that shouldn’t be there in your ears. I stuck my little finger tentatively into each ear and was shocked. Right ear, perfectly smooth and almost straight passage into my head. Left ear, a stupid cavern, that half way in has a passage that shoots upwards. I really don’t stand a chance of getting it right as it’s an almost impossible construction. It also explains why any time that a doctor has been looking at my ears, they have had to contort themselves into an almost upside down position to see anything on that side.
The more I find out about my body and the longer that I live in it, joking aside, I am completely sure there is something unknown that has cause a weakness in my left side before I was even born. Anything that goes wrong always goes wrong on the left. The worst pain, be it nerve or spasm based is always on my left side, along with the poorest dexterity and the most obvious twitches and tremors. The worst weakness and, of course, the only limb that has died and come back, again the left. Even the worst of the pain from my recent bowel issues is, yes, on the left. In fact, the only three bones I have ever broken are surprise, surprise, on the left side too. It just feels as though it is all more than a coincidence, and no wonder that I have for years been convinced that the left side of my body was created for no other reason than to keep finding new way to put me through hell.
Time seems to be rushing again. The phone just rang and it was the podiatrist, wanting to check that it was OK to come and seem me today. That means it four months since she was last here! It seems impossible that it is so long ago, especially as I have only asked Adam once to tidy my nails since she was last here. It’s another one of those things that you never really think about it. Not once when I was building a picture of my future post diagnosis did I ever think that I would need someone, anyone, especially not a professional to cut my toenails. I was born with deformed toes, it’s something that runs in the female side of my mother’s family. It means that I actually walk on some of my nails as some of my toes are totally turned in on themselves. Others they are twisted and nails grow into the sides of either their own toe or in the case of one, the toe beside it. I had learned over the years just how to cut them, but it required me to be able to bring my foot high onto my thigh, almost up to my groin to be able to see some of them. Clearly, I can’t manage that type of gymnastics any longer and my eyesight doesn’t stand a chance of seeing them even if I could. Adam just couldn’t get the hang of the odd process it takes to cut them. He was so scared of either cutting me or causing me pain, that it took ages and caused more problems than he usually fixed. I probably didn’t always help either, as I actually wanted to keep all of them despite their issues. I had to keep pointing out that the free side of the clippers were in danger of cutting into the neighboring toe. Once the podiatrist saw them, she said that Adam wasn’t to even try again, other than to take a nail file to them from time to time to keep them neater between visits.
It is all these small things that you never think about but are actually important to our well-being, that never enter our minds when looking at our future. When we are fit and healthy, we do so much every day, that 99% of I couldn’t even start doing any longer by myself. It doesn’t matter how much or how little of our lives have been spent in the company of either the ill or the elderly, we never see ourselves there. None of us needs to have a chronic illness to find ourselves eventually in the need of others to care for us. The day will come when we all need someone to cut our toenails, even those with perfect feet. Even our fingernails will be beyond us at some point. I used to think that I was going to be OK, that I was lucky, I lived in the UK. Even when something came into my head that I might need help with, I always found myself dismissing all worries, my care was guaranteed, I had nothing to worry about. It is a tiny example as the podiatrist is the only outside care I have at the minute, but it is an indication of the way things are changing.
She started coming to the house at the end of 2013 I think, on her first visit she told me she would be here ever three months and she was true to her word. It was the visit before last that she said due to budget cuts, she would only be here every four months from then on. It may not sound that much of a big thing, but just like diabetics, my feet are in danger and are a danger to me. I don’t feel them correctly, or at all at times. The possibility of infection from an ingrowing toenail is huge. That extra month is all it takes, I have been aware in the last few days that one of them isn’t happy. I say one of them as it often proves not to be the one I think, as screwed up nerves cause all sort of problems. They are issues that all podiatrist will know about and will have fought their corner over when it came to the changes. With every department now under pressure, I am sure that toenails are low on the list of conditions that need constant attention. As budgets are nibbled away at and more and more pressure being placed on the NHS, the future doesn’t look so secure. I do worry now just what the care I will receive at home will be like in 2, 3, or 4 years time or if there will be any.
When you grow up with the belief that all these things are taken care of, you never consider the possibility of private care unless you have a reason for it. I have always fully understood why those who have high-pressure jobs with high incomes have seen the need to have private health insurance. For them being able to pick and choose when they get treated makes sense. For the majority of us, it was a luxury too far, but now I am beginning to wonder. I don’t even know if the type of insurance product I am think of even exists, but if it doesn’t, it should. I honestly see the need for all of us to make not just provision for our retirement, but for the provision of the basic everyday care we can expect to need as we age or through chronic illness. It is clear to me that to expect the NHS & our local councils to keep providing it on a shoe string is madness. Unfortunately, it is those of us already here who will suffer, it’s too late for us, but not for those out there working right now. I also don’t think it is fair to blame the Government either.
We have all missed one major factor when it comes to the care of the elderly, fashion. Post-war, when the NHS and the care system was set up, women didn’t go out to work, they cared firstly for their children, then for aging relatives. It was the fashion. The number of none working women was huge, more than enough to be the unpaid army of carers. These days everyone that can, have to work and no one has the time, or the ability to be in two places at once. Suddenly all these elderly relatives are now in the care of councils and the NHS. Carers are dispatched daily to do all the basic tasks from dispensing medications, feeding. washing and dressing, then returning to repeat it all at night. It is a huge cost that wasn’t ever considered and has grown and grown since the sixties. Suddenly, the baby boomer generations, which I am one of, are finding themselves in need of care from a system that is stretched beyond belief. Add in the financial situation of the world and it can only get worse. I am lucky, I have someone who maybe can’t do everything I will even need, but can do a lot of it, but as I said, I am lucky. If you didn’t agree with my suggestion a few days ago that there was a need to educate our children about chronic illness, well maybe this might make you think again. You can’t plan for what you don’t know about.
Please read my blog from 2 year ago – 10/08/2013 – Permission to do what I want