Hospital Appointment Regained

August 12, 2009 at 9:50 am | Posted in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | Leave a comment

No doubt, dear reader, those of you of a literary bent will no doubt have seen that post title coming – Hubby did – ten points to Hubby.

So … I tentatively answered my mobile yesterday … tentatively because it NEVER rings because all my friends know I never answer the damn thing so they email me instead, and I was expecting it to be some sort of sales call. But yes, as you know if you read the last post it was … dum Dum DUM … the Nurse Practitioner’s secretary.

‘We’ve got a cancellation – would you be able to come in on …’ wait for it … wait for it …

‘… this Friday afternoon’.

Well, I took a deep breath, decided that regardless of the fact that I’m going out Friday night and have a friend staying over the weekend who I’m not at all prepared for and I’m off Monday morning (due to said friend) AND out Tuesday mid-day taking mum to hospital (just a check-up, phew) and have physio today and really MUST get some work done at some point … I’d better say yes.

I figured that if they had a cancellation and I said no they’d happily just shunt me down to the bottom of the list and I’d never hear from them again.

So … wish me luck this Friday. And I wonder if I should post a poll on the blog – ‘Do you think the nurse practitioner is going to try to bully/sulk at me because I sent in a nasty letter – yes or no’. No, perhaps not …

You’ll just have to wait for the next thrilling installment to find out how it went … (and I’ll just have to wait until Friday … gulp) Silly thing is I don’t even NEED an appointment yet …and there’s probably someone out there who really does … but I just DARED NOT turn it down! She’ll probably try to make me feel guilty about that …

Hospital appointment lost …

August 11, 2009 at 9:01 pm | Posted in Me, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 3 Comments
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So, as I said in my last post, I got home from a cracking weekend away to find a letter telling me that due to my health professional being on annual leave, my hospital appointment for September 2009 was being postponed … for six months. Now it won’t surprise those of you who know me that I slightly lost my rag … it’s probably sitting somewhere with my marbles.

On Monday I phoned the hospital – the receptionist was suitably puzzled, perhaps even astonished, at the amount of delay, buy all she could do was put me through to the nurse practitioners’ secretary, and all she could do was add me to the cancellation list for September. ‘If you get to the top of the list, we’ll let you know and give you an appointment.’ She didn’t sound like she thought there was much chance of that.

So I asked her who I should make an official complaint to. She told me to contact the Patient Liaison Service and she put me through. This actually was NOT how you make an official complaint, but it was nevertheless a wise decision on her part as when I eventually spoke to the PaLS lady she was excellent – and sympathetic, unlike the secretary who had probably worked as a doctor’s receptionist before getting this job, and so I ended up NOT putting in a complaint…

But before I spoke to the excellent PaLS lady, I had to do the usual leaving of a message on the answerphone, waiting for a response, not getting a response, writing a stinking complaint letter and sending it off.

In my stinking letter I explained that not only was I having this appointment canceled, but in fact when I looked back at my diary it seemed that I had actually only seen the n.p., in April 2008. This is someone I am supposed to see every six months, interspersed with six-monthly consultant appointments so that I see a ‘rheumatology health professional’ every three months.

So … if I didn’t get to see her until March 2010, that would be a gap of just under two years in what is supposed to be a six-monthly appointment schedule!

I also pointed out that NICE guidelines state that a patient whose RA is not under control should be seen monthly. I didn’t hold out much hope for that argument, and I was right – ‘Well they are only guidelines, and we have to do what we can, but …’ but hey, when NICE are on your side you’ve got make the most of it! It doesn’t happen often!

Aaaaaanyway … the rather lovely PaLS lady (who turned out to be an RA patient herself) sent my letter to the RA manager, the nurse practitioner etc. and got a response back for me within 48 hours, and phoned me for a chat. She agreed with me that saying ‘your health professional is on annual leave’ when in fact what had happened was that yes, she was on annual leave but they’d also had one nurse leave suddenly and another drastically reduce her hours (and that from a group that was only four-strong in the first place), did nothing to endear them to their patients.

She explained that if I had a serious problem I could contact the helpline. I explained (again – it was in my letter) that actually things were pretty good at the moment, BUT the registrar I saw in June said that I should see someone in three months (i.e. September) to see if I needed to up my methotrexate if it was working. Now I wouldn’t see anyone until December (my consultant appointment) and I didn’t think that was good enough. Then she said that she thought the nurse p. could probably actually sort that out over the phone and up the MTX after talking to me if she thought that was the right thing to do.

Now that would suit me just fine – getting it all sorted over the phone without having to drag myself into Norwich and waste an afternoon … so I said that was really useful to know and that I would therefore not be making an official complaint at this stage … and then we had a nice, friendly chat about RA and the local support group etc.

So it all ended very amicably and pleasantly and I went off a much happier penguin … and prepared to give ‘em hell at the beginning of September when they told me that actually they couldn’t do it over the phone. Cynical? Moi?

But wait … is that the mobile I hear ringing … Yes … it’s the nurse practitioner’s secretary …

See the next thrilling installment for what happened next …

A wonderful weekend

August 8, 2009 at 10:48 am | Posted in Me, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 4 Comments
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Last weekend was almost perfect … it would have been pretty much perfect if it wasn’t for the dratted hospital … but more of that later!

On Friday I went to stay with a friend on the north Norfolk coast and in the evening we went nightjar watching … or nightjar listening at least. It really was a magical experience – imagine standing in a woodland clearing, near dark, with no one else around (except my friend of course) and hearing something like this recording on the Natural Suffolk blog. And we didn’t just hear them – we saw the male and female, and heard the male’s ‘wing clapping’ display flight. I’m not a bird watcher, even if my friend is proud to be a ‘birder’ and refutes the fact that she’s a ‘twitcher’ although that’s highly debatable, but that was just an unforgettable experience. I have dismally failed to convince either my mother or hubby about how exciting this was … I’ve probably failed to convince you too, but if you have a listen to the recording you might get some feel for what it was like!

It was slightly more successful than our afternoon jaunt to search for black darter dragonflies. Apparently they’re common’s’muck in the area we went and my friend never fails to spot them … with the exception of this time, of course. Clearly they were all shouting ‘Penguin alert, Penguin alert’ and diving for cover in the reads … that’s hubby’s theory, anyway. We still had a very enjoyable walk though, and saw many other dragonflies and damselflies and a number of other interesting things that we totally failed to identify, not helped by the fact that I’d left my camera at my friend’s house so couldn’t take pictures to identify later!

Saturday morning was a rather more successful trip to Holme Dunes, where I took some photos of six spot burnet and common blue butterfly on sea holly that I’m rather pleased with. I’ll post a couple here.

Common Blue Butterfly on Sea Holly

Common Blue Butterfly on Sea Holly

Six-spot Burnet moth, Holme, Norfolk

Six-spot Burnet moth, Holme, Norfolk

Needless to say really, having just described several walks and quite a bit of standing around, the RA is behaving itself rather well … and continues to do so. This weekend the same friend is coming here to go ‘damselfly twitching’ locally to me, where the rare Scarce Emerald Damselfly (Lestes dryas)
can be found. (Interestingly (I think) it’s common as anything in the US and is known as the common spreadwing, but here it’s really quite rare.)

Scarce Emerald Damselfly, Lestes Dryas, The Brecks, Norfolk

Scarce Emerald Damselfly, Lestes Dryas, The Brecks, Norfolk

I know this is an RA blog and not a natural history blog, but I’m celebrating the lack of RA (and the sunshine of course) by indulging in a much more fun interest than my health! One RA related thing though – the aforementioned hospital annoyance. I got back home on Saturday evening to find a letter from them – your appointment <which had been booked since March 2009 incidentally> has been cancelled due to the fact that the health professional you were due to see will be on annual leave. It’s been moved from September 2009 to … wait for it, wait for it … March 2010!! I will be posting separately about this when I have the time! In the meantime I shall just say Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr. And bloomin’ good job the RA’s OK right now!

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