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[Travel] Making a Car First Aid Kit

20160419_222832 Having a first aid kit in the car is a legal requirement for some European countries and it’s just a good idea in general. You can purchase pre-made kits (and we have a cheap one of those too just so we can fulfil the legal requirements) in Halfords that will comply with the applicable laws, but I have kept a personal first aid kit in the car since 2010 with things that we specifically need or use. Also, some countries have a weird rule that the first aid kit needs to be sealed, so this was just easier for us. And having it has come in handy on multiple occasions! I decided to get our current kit out of the car in preparation for our road trip to Austria to check the expiration dates and give it an update before we go again. No surprise, a lot of it had expired as it was put together in 2010! So now it’s updated, and here’s a video about putting together a first aid kit:

The nice thing about making your own first aid kit instead of buying a pre-made one is you can create it around your needs and your likes/dislikes. If you have products you like better than other for first aid, if there’s a pain relief product you like better than another (or tummy remedy!), or if there’s a product you know you’ll need based on your own medical needs…it can go in your own personalised first aid kit. The type of box you use doesn’t matter, but it should be sturdy and waterproof. Alternatively, you could keep everything in a zippered bag (and it would probably squish better). I took a cardboard box we had waiting for the recycle bin and I covered it with clear contact paper. You also could use clear packing tape if you don’t have any contact paper and I added a red cross to the front to make it easily recognisable as a first aid kit. We also always keep it under the front passenger seat so it’s always in the same location and can easily be grabbed or we can tell someone else exactly where it is.

The total cost for putting this together was probably around £20. I bought all the value range first aid items from shops like Tesco, Wilkinson’s, and Asda…and they work. You don’t NEED fancy brands for first aid. Or if you’re really attached to having a certain brand, you always have the option of buying those. Probably the priciest item was the 4head stick!

When I first went to make the kit, I solicited advice from my friends who are first aiders, EMTs, and nurses on what they felt were important things to have on hand in a first aid kit, so this list is medical professionals approved!

Our first aid kit contents in no particular order:

-Box of plasters/band-aids
-Blister plasters
-strapping tape
-micro-porous tape
-gauze pads
-elastic band
-paracetamol
-ibuprofen
-diarrhoea medication
-soap box for above medicine to keep it dry
-gaviscon
-antiseptic wipes
-antiseptic ointment
-sudocream
-medical scissors
-tweezers
-antibacterial gel
-rubber gloves
-burn ointment
-spray on plaster
-4head headache gel
-duct tape (I fold over a piece several times to have a small bit, not a whole roll!)
-nit comb
-sanitary towel

And don’t forget to check with Halfords or the RAC or AA what other requirements are needed in each European country you will be driving through, as they can vary. You also should sign up for temporary European breakdown coverage (we got the highest level of coverage that not only will bring your car back to the UK for you, but give you a rental car to finish out your holiday and provide a way to get you back home at the end. Pricey, but worth the peace of mind) as well as additional coverage through your car insurance. For example, our insurance only automatically covers a few days abroad, and adding coverage for the three weeks only cost £42. Also make sure you have signed up for your EHIC card as well before you go (this is subject to change depending on the terms of Brexit). If you are not a UK or EU resident, make sure you get travel insurance before you go, because you never know! We have a multi trip world plan that costs us around £100/yr, but you can get single trip plans for as low as £8. You can read more about other requirements for driving abroad in my previous post from 2011.

I also always try to carry a mini first aid kit in my backpack when we aren’t in the car just with a few plasters and some antiseptic wipes to clean and cover a cut until you get back to the car.

Obviously, this first aid kit isn’t going to fix all medical problems that arise, but it should cover enough basics until you can get somewhere else to get proper medical attention. And I think the Halford’s ones even include a thermal blanket, but you also could pick one up at the pound shop if you wanted to include one of those for emergencies too.

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This post has not been endorsed by any of the products mentioned in this post and I have not received compensation for writing this post or making any videos.

The contents of this post, including personal images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

For full Copyright and Disclaimer, please read http://www.blog.beccajanestclair.com/copyright/

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24 Hours in Lincoln County Hospital

hospitalinstagram Thursday to Friday last week I was on the Shuttleworth Ward at the Lincoln County Hospital for what amounted to 24 hours. The care I had in hospital was excellent, and the staff there even waived the visiting hours rule for me since I was brought in as an emergency case and my status was unknown for large parts of Thursday evening and Friday afternoon. But before I get to that, let me explain what was going on with me, in a sort of diary form as that’s the easiest way for me to get everything out.

30 December 2013
I woke up with a very large, very painful lump/bump on my neck. A call to my regular GP yielded no available appointments, so a trip to the Monk’s Road Walk-In Centre was made. At the clinic, the nurse diagnosed me with an Abscess and prescribed Flucloxacillin, with instructions to seek medical help if the pain or swelling got worse.

31 December 2013
I was wheeling around Waitrose and started to feel ill in general. I don’t even remember going through the tills, but I did stop in the cafe for my freebie cup of tea (Peppermint, I thought to calm my stomach) and a sandwich. Well, I wasn’t able to eat my sandwich and only could sip at my tea because the pain was getting worse by the minute and the pain was spiking up into my head and across my shoulders to the point where I was holding in tears. After talking to my husband, it was decided that I needed to get to A&E and my options were waiting for the bus, going home and waiting for Tim to get home, or asking someone to take me. Fortunately, Tim works with someone who was coming on to relieve Tim and he happened to live near to where I was, so he gave me a lift to the hospital.

While there, I was sent straight up to the ENT Clinic and the doctor there diagnosed me with Cellulitis and prescribed a higher dose of Flucloxacillin and some Codeine for the pain. He set me an appointment in two weeks, where it should “be the size of a pea” and he would be able to easily cut it out. Oh, if only we had a crystal ball…..

1 January 2014
I woke up completely disoriented and didn’t even know where I was. A text message full of gibberish went to Tim who was at work, and I eventually got it together enough to ring 111. 111 sent me to the After Hours GP at the hospital, where it was determined that I was having a reaction to the codeine and was prescribed Naproxen (Alieve! Hey, I know that drug!) instead. The after hours GP also told me this wasn’t an abscess or cellulitis, but was a sebaceous cyst.

2 – 4 January 2014
The cyst got bigger.

5 January 2014
Just as we were getting ready to welcome friends to a garden railway party, I started to feel amazing. No pain whatsoever, but…what’s that smell? I went all over the house trying to find the source of this smell before I said to Tim “I think it’s me” and he looked at my neck and sure enough, the cyst had exploded. It wasn’t a burst, so much as an explosion. Friends came to the rescue once again and our local friend Sue took me into A&E so Tim could stay with our guests. At A&E they drained it….which was really painful and told me I “wouldn’t need to be seen again” for this issue. Again, where’s that crystal ball?

6 January 2014
Yep, it got bigger again.

7 January 2014
I noticed hives on my arm and back, and just assumed it was from the dust we kicked up cleaning the workshop earlier in the da, so I took some antihistamine and went to bed.

8 January 2014
I had a routine appointment with my dermatologist and showed her my neck. She was alarmed at the size of it and said I needed to see an ENT urgently (good thing I had the appointment already booked) and made noises about plastic surgery on my neck to remove the “capsule”. Yikes. She also refilled my flucloxacillin, but when I told her about the hives, she advised that it could be the flucloxacillin and to keep an eye on things and if the hives got worse to seek medical attention or come in to see her.

Later that night, the hives came back. I wound up ringing 111 and going into after hours to get my prescription changed to Erythromycin, and the GP there advised that I have my GP office add an allergy to Penicillin to my record.

9 January 2014
Despite being off the flucloxacillin, the hives got WORSE. Painfully worse. My fingers were swelling, my wrist were swelling, and my hands were painful. I rang my GP office as it was still during their open hours and I was told to come straight in. I saw Dr Nellist who took one look at me, measured the abscess (which had grown and started to weep), took my vitals, and said “I’m ringing the hospital and sending you there”. eeek!

I got to the hospital around 7PM. We had no idea what was going on, but then Tim saw my name up on their board that shows who is in what bed and we both said “uh-oh”. Tim stayed with me and I was seen by the ENT within an hour who prescribed an IV antibiotic and an IV anti histamine. The plan was to drain the abscess, but at this point they weren’t sure if it would be that night or the following day. They finally decided to wait until morning, and told me I could eat until 3AM. At this point, Tim went home to get me some things for overnight (pyjamas, a blanket, entertainment) and some food. He came back around 11PM and helped me change (hard to do with an IV stuck in your arm!) and I got into bed. The nurse offered to bring me toast and tea around 230 in the morning so I’d have something in my stomach in the morning just in case. They also added an IV drip around 6AM of what they called a “meal in a bag”. You might recall the last time I was in hospital I had to ask for this, so I was happy to not need to ask!

10 January 2014
A very nice trio of doctors came to see me and the consultant wanted it to be drained that morning. However, the junior doctor didn’t feel comfortable doing it since she hadn’t done it before on a neck, so I had to wait for the other doctor to be free. After finding out it wouldn’t happen in the morning, they decided to feed me Lunch, but I was advised to take it easy on the food just in case, so I just had a salad.

The surgeon came past just as I was walking to the loo and told me he was going to do it now, so I hurried back. The whole procedure took maybe 20 minutes under local anesthesia, but it still was really painful. Tim arrived partway through and I told him to stay away because it was really gross! After he was done, the surgeon advised for me to stick around for another hour but he didn’t see any reason why I shouldn’t be able to leave as long as I had no complications and to keep it dry for 48 hours.

Of course, there were complications. They came in the form of a lovely ring of hives on my back and across my chest. Crap. So, more anti histamines and IV antibiotics and I needed to see a doctor to determine if they needed me to stay another night. The anti histamine worked, so the doctor decided to release me into the care of my GP if the hives came back and they gave me prescriptions for Clindamycin and an anti histamine.

10 – 11 January 2014
I was okay, but the dressing came off so Tim had to help me apply a new one. It was bleeding a little, but nothing to be concerned about.

12 January 2014
I decided to take a bath, and Tim and I had a date night, a lovely meal out at Ask! Italian followed by the latest Hobbit film. I only had a small plaster over my neck and all was well, so we went to bed.

13 January 2014
This morning, I woke up with my hair covered in blood. At some point overnight my movement caused it to burst again. A phone call into my GP had me going in to see the nurse, who gave me some dressings with stronger adhesives and took a look at it. She discovered that there is still a core inside my neck several inches long and I would need more antibiotics, so I was given some Erythromycin again, and a follow-up appointment for Thursday. Tomorrow I see the ENT (the original appointment given to me by A&E way back on the 30th), so we will see what happens. Like I said, the dermatologist wants me to see a plastic surgeon, so we shall see what happens.

But let’s sum this up…in the past two weeks I have been to:

-a walk-in clinic
-A & E 2x
-seen an ENT doctor 3x
-After hours appointments 2x
-admitted to hospital for 24 hours
-on-call/emergency GP appointments 2x
-seen my dermatologist

and been prescribed:

-Flucloxacillin 3x
-Codeine
-Naproxen
-Erythromycin 2x
-Clindamycin
-Chlorpheniramine
plus 3x antibiotics via IV and 2x antihistamine via IV

as well as had minor surgery.

Because I have a pre-pay prescription certificate the total cost out of pocket to us for all of this care? about £10 in parking fees.

Who exactly thinks national healthcare is a bad thing again?

PS: Yes, I have photos of my neck day-by-day but they really are too gross to post!

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The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

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[NaBloPoMo] Pre-Pay your Prescriptions on the NHS

ObamaCare has been in the news a lot lately because it’s finally starting to go into effect in January (I think). As an American who resides abroad for more than 335 days per year, I don’t need to sign up for a plan. From what I understand, this isn’t trying to restrict Americans abroad to only visiting the US for 25 days each year, but it is restricting us to calling a visit to the US a visit. As in, we can’t call an address in the US our “home address”. Which sounds a bit odd since they use your last lived at address in the US as your “home address” for voting purposes, but at least I don’t have to sign up for a healthcare plan in the US I’d only be able to use occasionally. Instead, I have traveler’s insurance. But this isn’t the point of my daily post today. It’s just an a way of explaining where my train of thought wandered to today.

The point of my post is to tell you all that I love the NHS and their pre-pay certificates. No, really. I live in England, where we still pay for our prescriptions (Scotland and Wales get freebies), but we have a pre-pay scheme where you can pre-pay for 3 or 12 months in one go if you are on long-term prescriptions but don’t yet qualify for free ones. I recently switched from a 3-month certificate to a 12 month one for a little over £100 (single prescriptions cost £7.85) as I refill my Metformin every 28 days, my Zineryt every 5 weeks, and my Hibiscrub usually every other month. I switched because recently, after visiting a Dermatologist, I was given two new creams and a wash and I also have been on prescription pain relievers for my knee. Those 7 prescriptions would have cost me £54.95, or more than HALF of what my pre-pay certificate cost. I pay for my pre-pay certificate in monthly installments of £10, so it’s slightly more than the cost of one prescription.

Again, this isn’t an option for everyone, in fact it only becomes valid if you know you will be on at least 14 prescriptions in the year. Since no one can predict if they will need 14 in a year, I would say go with if you need 2 or more per month. The three-month pre-pay certificate costs just under £30, so that is a good option if you will be on more than 4 prescriptions in a 3-month period…and here’s the beauty of it. You can BACK DATE your pre-pay by up to 30 days. So let’s say you visit your GP and find out that you have a skin infection. You get handed a prescription for antibiotic pills, a cream, a daily scrub, and some sticky pads to cover it with. You can walk into your chemist and request a “blue” reciept when you pay, go home, apply for a three-month pre-pay certificate, have it valid as of yesterday, and then once it comes in the mail go back to the chemist with your card and blue receipt and get your money back. Brilliant.

It’s just one more reason why I love the NHS….

[Please note I do not get compensated for talking about the NHS. I just honestly love it that much!]

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The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

For full Copyright and Disclaimer, please read http://www.blog.beccajanestclair.com/copyright/

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Adventures with A&E

I know I haven’t updated in a while, and I’m hoping NaBloPoMo in November will jump start me, but in the meantime I thought I would write a post to expand on what I’ve been posting on Facebook.

Last night around 2 in the morning I had to go to A&E for my knee, but let me backtrack and tell you what happened….

My knee had been hurting for the past few days. I was chalking it up to the change in the weather (quite literally we went from the upper teens/lower 20s to single digits overnight) or maybe I was developing arthritis (I joked on FB that I was too young for arthritis), but while we were in the US we went to a train museum and when I was getting down off one of the engines it had a particularly high step and I remember telling Tim after I climbed down that my knee hurt and I wasn’t going to climb on any more trains. It might have hurt the following day and on-and-off for the rest of the trip, but it was never anything really horrible that a hot shower or regular pain relievers didn’t take care of.

Yesterday, the pain seemed to increase throughout the day and I actually wound up in bed with the bedwarmer as a heating pad earlier in the evening. I had plans that included getting up and showering before Tim got home from his overnight shift (because our boiler is in a closet in the same room as the bed is currently if I use the hot water while Tim is sleeping the noise of the boiler wakes him), then going back to sleep for an hour or two before being picked up for my chorus’ open workshop that took place today. That didn’t happen. Instead, when I went up the stairs to go to bed, my left knee completely gave way from underneath me after I turned the corner (we have a tight spiral staircase that turns back on itself on a landing 3/4 of the way up). I managed to pull myself up on the banister, and limped down the hallway and managed to get onto the bed, where I texted Tim and told him what happened.

Tim wrote back and asked me if I was in pain and I told him that the pain was making me cry, so he suggested ringing 111* to ask them for advice. The first guy I got was a call centre person with no medical training and he asked me all sorts of weird questions that had no relevance and in the end told me that since I wasn’t bleeding or feverish that I should wait and go see my GP on Monday. I asked him what I should do about the pain because it was making me cry and he transferred me to a nurse. The nurse advised going to A&E as soon as I was able because she suspected a torn ligament and said I would need an X-ray and strapping up. I rang Tim back and told him what was suggested and he said he would get home to take me as soon as he was able to get someone to take over where he was.

I think we got to A&E around 2AM. Surprisingly, the waiting area was pretty empty and I was told there were three people ahead of me after I went through triage and it wouldn’t be a long wait. But then we started hearing screaming coming from behind the door and a nurse came out and asked the receptionist if the police were at the hospital and then three carloads of police showed up! Yikes. Still don’t know what that was about, but when I was finally called back two police officers were stationed right near the entrance to the examining area.

The doctor I saw was an intern and he admitted to me that he had no experience with orthopedics. He bent my knee this way and that way and sideways and based on the crunch and crackle (seriously, my knee sounded like walking on gravel does) he determined that it probably wasn’t a ligament, but was a meniscus tear (cartilage) and that an x-ray wouldn’t help since cartilage doesn’t show up on an x-ray. So he told me to make an appointment with my GP on Monday because I would need physio and to stay off it for about a week….but he didn’t give me a brace or anything to keep it immobile. He also gave me a prescription for Diclofenac but told me the hospital pharmacy was closed for the night and I would have to take it to an after hours.

We left and headed for the Boots at the Carleton center only to find it completely dark and no afterhours window open. Puzzled, I fired up google to find out that at that particular time (nearly 5AM) there was not a single pharmacy open in Lincoln. Nice. So we headed home and I took some Naproxen I brought back from the US.

I tried to get comfortable in bed and immediately put myself in pain when I tried to get into my usual sleeping position (knees slightly bent). I still had my knee brace from 1998 when I had surgery on my right knee, so I had Tim get it out for me and I stuck in on my left knee. I was asleep, finally, by 7AM. I woke up around 10 to go to the loo and with the knee brace the steps were a piece of cake. When I woke up again around 3PM I took off the brace (since the hospital told me I did’t need one) and I was in a ton of pain going down the steps. I think I will be asking my GP for a brace on Monday. While the one I had worked, it wasn’t designed for the left side so all the fastenings are on the wrong side.

So I’m pretty immobile for the weekend until I can get in with my GP on Monday. I’m going to go back upstairs now and get into bed. I have my laptop and my kindle, both with BBC iPlayer and LoveFilm to keep me company.

Oh, and PS to my American friends – My trip to A&E didn’t cost me a cent. I’ll only have to pay for my prescription, but I pre-pay for those (unlimited prescriptions for about £12/mo) so I won’t even have to hand over any cash when I pick it up, either.


*111 is a service in the UK that replaced NHS Direct. Basically, you can ring 111 when your GP office is closed for advice and they will help you determine if you need to go to A&E, an after hours GP, or wait until the morning when your GP office is open. For more information: http://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/AboutNHSservices/Emergencyandurgentcareservices/Pages/NHS-111.aspx

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The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

For full Copyright and Disclaimer, please read http://www.blog.beccajanestclair.com/copyright/

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Myths about the NHS as related to ObamaCare

I was reading the thread on We Survived Bush about MissM’s photo, and this gem of a comment about life in Europe popped up:

Have u been to Europe? If u consider greater quality of life living in places that are old, outdated, everything is compact and not to many modern conveniences, I guess maybe u should move there. Sorry, I like my new house, granite counter tops, having a new car every couple of yrs, etc..

And I can’t help but laugh. I think she watched Lord of the Rings and thinks we all live in dirt huts and dig holes to go to the bathroom. Or maybe she watched a film that takes place in East Germany in the 1960s. Or does she think we all live in massive, sprawling estates like Downton Abbey or in a castle like Hogwarts? I mean, seriously? Define modern conveniences. I have running water in my house, I have electricity. I have a phone line and I have a TV. I have a washing machine (that’s a combo with a dryer) and an electric shower. I also live in an 1840s farm house, but there are plenty of new builds popping up all over the place.

I also happen to have a coal-burning fire place and a coke-burning stove, but that’s also because I live in an 1840s farmhouse and we actually LIKE having a coal fire (don’t talk to me about the stove).

You can have central heating if you want, you can have dish washers, satellite TV, video gaming systems (we have a Wii), computers (writing this on my netbook, which is next to the desktop and I can see my husband’s laptop bag, too), mobile phones – sorry, cell phones…even iphones if you want ’em.

We have more brands of cars than are available in North America and hey – modern cars like Jaguar, Audi, Volvo, and Volkswagen are all made in Europe. All that AND a decent public transportation system. From my house, I can get to Germany in about 5 hours via public transit from London. Unless you live near the Canadian or Mexican border, can YOU get to a foreign country by train in 5 hours? Or drive through 5 countries in one day?

All that AND healthcare. The rest of the European Union will be much the same.

Tell me again how Europe doesn’t have modern conveniences?

Another comment I frequently see states that we have long waiting lists in England and they don’t want this happening in the US. Below is my reply.

The “waiting lists” here are no different than waiting in the US for your insurance to approve a specialist (which as I remember, can take months), but if you are faced with a life-threatening emergency, you will be put at the top of the queue. I needed non life-threatening emergency surgery in 2010. I was send to A&E (that’s the UK term for ER) by the after hours GP I went to see and stayed in the hospital for 3 days waiting for an open slot for surgery because I *could* wait. If it was life-or-death, they would have rolled me into surgery at 2 in the morning. The longest I personally have had to wait for an appointment has been one month, and I chalk that down just to availability as I received the appointment within one week of being told I needed it.

The thing you have to remember about the British society is that as a whole we tend to like to complain more than praise things. But I can tell you firsthand that the NHS works. My husband still has his father alive thanks to the NHS and his family has never had to worry about where the money was coming from to pay the bills from his kidney transplant. My husband’s best mate had his leg amputated due to an accident over 20 years ago, and he has to go to a special hospital to have a new leg fitted every two years or so and he never has to worry about not being able to feed his family because he has to have a stay n the hospital and a new leg so frequently.

I’m a housewife and an immigrant and I receive the same level of care as anyone else….and I’ve even contributed to the cost of the NHS as the NHS is partially funded through VAT (sales tax).

It’s such a relief to know that when my husband and I decide we are ready to start our family that we do no need to worry about the costs of giving birth or being able to afford doctors if there are complications during the pregnancy. So many of my friends in the US give birth and then are faced with thousands of dollars in hospital bills.

And birth control? FREE. No matter if you are a visitor, immigrant, or citizen.

Th NHS might not be perfect, but it’s a hell of a lot better than my options ever were when I lived in the US, including when I had HMO care through my job at a bank. Even with monthly premiums of over $300, I still had to pay loads out of pocket for a spinal tap to determine if I had MS (I don’t, thankfully), not to mention the follow-up care and subsequent ER visit when the pain relievers didn’t work!

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The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

For full Copyright and Disclaimer, please read http://www.blog.beccajanestclair.com/copyright/

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The Return of the Face of Obamacare

This is MissM:

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Once again, her photo is in the media. My guess is because of the upcoming election in the US.

Most recently it’s been on the “We Survived Bush, you Will Survive Obama” page on Facebook and then re-shared on the “Democrats Abroad” page as well as 4,500 other facebook users. nearly 30k have “liked” the photo (as of the time I’m writing this) and it has over 3,500 comments.

…and yet….out of that 30k, has anyone looked at the watermark on that image and gone to the URL? http://giveneyestosee.com/blog. It’s not even that hard to remember while you open up a new tab on facebook. I’ve also re-posted the links in the comments MULTIPLE times, as well as links to M’s interview with CNN and my previous posts about Miss M (each word is a separate link).

If EACH of those 30k….hell, if Half of the 30k donated a dollar to M’s fund, she would be able to completely pay off her medical bill debt.

Has anyone donated anything? Nope. Has anyone bothered to look at her online shop to purchase ANY of the gorgeous items she has there?

Nope.

And really, how sad is that? How sad is it that we as a modern society can feel the need to look at an image of a person in need, share it with our friends, and not bother to look into the full story? Or those who decide to JUDGE Miss M based on…nothing. I mean, I’m not going to quote comments on here, but some were downright hateful and made reference to things that simply were not true…some even called this image a lie or photoshopped and had claimed they had seen “this girl holding up other signs” (in which case, those must have been photoshopped).

I’ve been trying to comment every page or so with a link back to M’s blog, facebook page, or shop. Will anyone click on it? Will people get off their high horses long enough to actually do something to help out a fellow American in need? Hell, I bet my British friends have contributed more to M’s cause than ALL those people liking this photo put together.

Ways to Help
I am NOT asking you to donate money to aid Miss M, but if you’re in the market for some jewellery, please visit her site or Etsy shop. Christmas is coming, and I can vouch that her pieces are stunning. I myself own two trees of life and snowman earrings, my mom has a custom bracelet, and my mother-in-law received a nestlace (bird’s nest pendant) that Miss M personalized with an un-heard of SEVEN birthstone pearls for her children and children-in-laws. I also have many one of a kind pieces Miss M has gifted to me over the years, including some lovely purple earrings I wear all the time and a red and gold beaded bookmark.

If you do want to donate, you can do so via both PayPal and GoFundMe.

Other links you might find useful:

Her Blog: http://giveneyestosee.com/blog

PhoenixFunds: http://PhoenixFunds.etsy.com

PhoenixFireDesigns on Etsy: http://PhoenixFireDesigns.etsy.com

PhoenixFire Designs: http://www.phoenixfiredesigns.com

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The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog.]

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Sharing a Secret – The Resuts of my Blood Tests

There’s been something weighing on my mind for the past several weeks and at fist I didn’t want to tell anyone — not even my family — but then Tim convinced me that I should tell my mom and his parents and then I branched out and told a few local friends who I thought could help me, I told one of my cousins, and I told a close friend who knows what it’s like to deal with this. I haven’t told any of my other close/best friends, for which I apologize. I should have come and told some of you sooner than now, but I just didn’t know how to word things and I didn’t want pity, and even with just the small group who know I’m already being given loads of (often conflicting!) advice.

When I went to the GP a few weeks back for the results of a blood test (done for unrelated reasons), my glucose level came back high. Dr Howard wanted me to do another Glucose tolerance test (the last one had been done in August 2010), so I had that the following Monday, and my results appointment with Dr Howard the following Friday.

My glucose level was 11.4. Under UK guidelines, I have diabetes (Type 2) (the cut off is above 11.1).

I had to wait over a week before I could see the diabetic nurse, and it was an AWFUL week. I didn’t know what to do and I spent the week cutting out as much junk from my diet as possible, and switching a lot of my habits around. I eliminated all white flour from my kitchen (my MIL got a huge bag of things), most of the white sugar (I left a little for guests who need sugar in their tea!), and anything else I knew was now on my “nono” list. I researched and picked up a few diabetic cookbooks and talked to my friends. A plan started to form.

On Monday, I saw the diabetic nurse. She confirmed that I was “barely” diabetic, with my Hb1ac level at just below 50 (which I understand is about 6.7%). If it was above 50, I would need medication, but as it’s just under, I’ve been advised to work on controlling my diet for the next two months when I’ll go back in again for another review. While it’s not possible to reverse diabetes or never have it again, it IS possible to eliminate actively having it provided I change my diet and stick to it.

I have decided to go low-carb and have eliminated bread from my diet. I now have lots of wholewheat wraps for my sandwiches and no longer have toast in the morning. I do my best to have breakfast every day – Weetabix, yoghurt with fruit, or an Atkins bar.

Baking is going to be the toughest thing to handle, but I’ve found low-carb flour (Carbalose and Carbquik) and I’ve also replaced my white self-rising flour with whole wheat self-rising flour.

I’ve also had to eliminate potatoes from my diet, which has been really rough!

So that’s where I’m at right now. My primary GP would like me to lose 2 stone (28lbs) in the next 6 months, but then he mentioned August to me, so who knows? I have managed to lose about 5 pounds so far in the two weeks since being diagnosed, so at least I’m on a good start.

Advice, products to get, and recipes are more than welcome, but if I start getting conflicting advice, whatever the GP and nurse say will always win.

The above will be cross-posted to my blog, facebook, and LJ. Anything appearing below this paragraph is specific to that page.

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The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

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The Face of ObamaCare

This is MissM:

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Lately, Miss M has been gaining attention all over the internet for this photo (even though she posted it months back). And every time I read some of the comments, I can’t help but jump in and talk about Miss M, because she is my friend.

When I call her my friend, I mean it. She is my friend. She is not an “internet friend” (though we did meet via a community on LiveJournal years ago!). Miss M and I have met-up on several occasions. I have been to her house, I have met her fiancé, and I have fussed at her kitties. My husband, mother, and one of my cousins have also met her. We call each other on the phone (thank you Skype!), we text (when it’s working), and we keep in touch via email, facebook, and twitter when we’re not commenting on each other’s blogs. I helped her start up PhoenixFunds, and I continue to support her and search for help for her. Therefore, when I comment and say “Miss M is a friend of mine”, I really do mean friend. And yes, I know what the M stands for. No, I’m not going to tell you. While Miss M appreciates all the support she is given, she does not want her full legal name out there on the internet, and I respect that.

As a long-time friend of Miss M, I know what she’s been through. She’s not kidding when she said she tried all other avenues for assistance.

But here’s the sucky part for her. It’s not over. Sure, she had her surgery in October, but the thing with major surgery is it takes ages to get over. Heck, I only had minor surgery on my armpit and it knocked me down for months afterwards. Miss M had major surgery and is looking at at least a year to a full recovery. On top of the months she already was ill. So by the time next October rolls around, she will have been out of work for a year and a half. And while she’s in recovery, she needs to see her doctors. Her insurance costs $250/month. This is on top of having to pay for the part of her surgery that wasn’t covered by the insurance. She owes around $10,000 for the surgery, and for her ER visit before she was able to gain insurance. She’s in a bit of a catch-22 — if she doesn’t pay $250/mo for her insurance, she has to start paying out of pocket to see the doctors. If she doesn’t pay back on the $10k, it goes into collections and puts her farther into debt making it impossible to afford the $250, and if she pays out of pocket to see the doctors, that adds even more to the $10k, never mind the fact that the doctor will want some of that money up front. And if she misses a month of paying $250, she goes right back to the beginning in terms of her deductible, which means shelling out $1000 up front before it starts to cover things.

And then you hear the “advice” – cut out Starbucks, drive a less expensive car, get rid of satellite TV, get rid of your iPhone, etc etc….but the thing is….Miss M doesn’t have or do any of those. She’s not a Starbucks junkie, her car is an older model (which means it needs to be repaired more frequently, which costs money…see? Catch-22), she doesn’t have satellite TV, and she doesn’t have an iPhone. She has an iPod touch that her fiancé gave to her several years ago because it was given to him at work as a Christmas gift, and he knew she wanted one. Her mobile phone is not snazzy, but she can’t get rid of it because since she drives an older car that is prone to breaking down, she needs to be able to call for help when she needs it (catch-22 again). And honestly? Cutting out a $30 bill isn’t going to magic $10,000.

I also know for a fact that Miss M participates in as many points sites as possible and earns points she can cash in for other things, like meals out, Amazon gift cards, her Disney pass, etc. Nothing that this woman does is done for the hell of it, and if she has any “disposable income”, well, I know it goes towards supplies for her business, food for her cats, or other necessities (you know, clothing, toiletries, food…).

It hurts me when people on other websites that have picked up her photo and story make nasty comments about her. I know I’m preaching to the choir here, because if you’re reading this entry, you are probably a friend and have probably read my other posts about Miss M, but if you’ve googled for more information about her, I hope you’ve stumbled upon this.

Ways to Help
I am NOT asking you to donate money to aid Miss M, but if you’re in the market for some jewellery, please visit her site or Etsy shop. Valentine’s Day is coming, and I can vouch that her pieces are stunning. I myself own a tree of life and snowman earrings, my mom has a custom bracelet, and my mother-in-law received a nestlace (bird’s nest pendant) that Miss M personalized with an un-heard of SEVEN birthstone pearls for her children and children-in-laws. I also have many one of a kind pieces Miss M has gifted to me over the years, including some lovely purple earrings I wear all the time and a red and gold beaded bookmark.

If you do want to donate, you can do so via both PayPal and GoFundMe.

Other links you might find useful:

Her Blog: http://giveneyestosee.com/blog

PhoenixFunds: http://PhoenixFunds.etsy.com

PhoenixFireDesigns on Etsy: http://PhoenixFireDesigns.etsy.com

PhoenixFire Designs: http://www.phoenixfiredesigns.com

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The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog.]

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Moving Forward (An Update on Miss M)

Miss M has had some great news recently. She was approved for a pre-existing condition insurance policy which will help her pay for the bulk of her surgery, AND she has finally been given the all-clear for surgery and will be going in on October 5. She will have a long recovery after this, and so she still will be unable to work for quite some time. Miss M also still has to pay off $600 before the surgery, as well as maintain her insurance premium ($250/month), try to make some headway on her previous hospital bill (while her insurance covers the pre-existing condition, it will not cover previous medical care), and well, be able to live for the next few months.

So, we’re asking for one last big push to help her get through the next few months. Please consider purchasing an item from her – handmade, one of a kind jewellery makes great holiday gifts – or making a donation. Also, if you could please pass on the links to her sites or my site, that would really be appreciated!

Her Website: http://giveneyestosee.com/blog

Blow-by-blow: http://giveneyestosee.com/blog/hysterectomy/

Donation Storefront: http://PhoenixFunds.etsy.com

Her Storefront: http://PhoenixFireDesigns.etsy.com

Her Website: http://www.phoenixfiredesigns.com

Direction Donations: http://tiny.cc/hysterectomy

http://www.gofundme.com/hysterectomy

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Germs, Germs, Germs

After my post last week, we went away for the long weekend down to the South of England to visit Tim’s best mate, to go to Bath, and to spend a day in London. And of course, I came back with a cold. Last time we spent the long weekend with Nick, I came home with a cold. When we went to see BNL in Glasgow, I came home with a cold. When I went to visit J in Southamton, I came home with a cold. I even brought a cold back from our Austria trip. My music director commented on Thursday that I always seem to pick up colds easily and she wondered if I was okay. When I was living in the US (for 30 years of my life!) I think I had a cold maybe once or twice a year.

What changed?

Moving to another continent. No, seriously. Now, I’m not a scientist, so this is in the most basic terms, and probably horribly inaccurate, but — when you are born, you are practically immediately exposed to germs and bacteria. As you grow, you become immune to some of the germs that are local to you. And then you move. 30 years of immunity to NY/NJ/PA germs means NOTHING when it’s up against UK germs. Those UK germs will fight your immune system, and fight it hard. I know some ex-pat friends who told horror stories of spending their first few years constantly getting sick with colds. I thought they were exaggerating. Now I get it.

A friend of ours suggested that I start using local honey because he thought it might help me with building up an immunity to the pollen/germs/etc in Lincolnshire. And, I think it worked. The trouble is, I travel to other parts of the UK and then wind up with a cold or worse. Visiting the Southern part of England I even get digestive problems because the water is different than the water here.

So since Tuesday I have been battling this cold. I’ve gone through an entire box of tissues as well as 2 rolls of toilet paper with the constant nose blowing. I finally can breathe a bit, but my upper lip is rubbed raw from blowing my nose, and I still don’t have much of a voice. I’ve had to cancel on visiting Tim’s dad for Father’s Day and Tim’s grandad on his birthday because of this. I hope I get better soon!

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The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, or the RSS feed(s), please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users can comment directly on Facebook.]

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Update on Miss M (or US Healthcare Sucks)

Here’s an update on my friend, Miss M. She’s received the bill from the hospital for her ER stay, and including a 40% non-insurance discount, the total for that bill is over US$8,000. This means Miss M now needs to raise over US$10,000 before she can even schedule her surgery. The goalpost just jumped by over 375% (Tim says about 384%). Again, this doesn’t include ANY of the fees/charges involved with her eventual surgery or interim OB/GYN visits.


[photo above © M. Turner]

I know you’re probably getting sick of seeing me post about this, but M is one of my nearest and dearest. I won’t beg for you to help her, but new items have been added to PhoenixFunds, including some photographs I have submitted. Please take a look at either Miss M’s shop, PhoenixFunds, or her direct website. Again, if you are a crafter or artist and would like to donate an item to be sold for Miss M’s benefit, please contact me in the comments..

Her Website: http://giveneyestosee.com/blog

Blow-by-blow: http://giveneyestosee.com/blog/hysterectomy/

Donation Storefront: http://PhoenixFunds.etsy.com

Her Storefront: http://PhoenixFireDesigns.etsy.com

Her Website: http://www.phoenixfiredesigns.com

Please pass these links along, re-tweet them, put them on Facebook, write a blog entry about Miss M, pass along my blog links…anything we can do to “boost the signal” and to help get M the help she needs. Especially if you’ve got any crafty friends because we are in need of crafty items!

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The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, or the RSS feed(s), please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users can comment directly on Facebook.]

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Help Raise Money for Miss M’s Hysterectomy Fund! ** Donations Needed **

I blogged about my friend, Miss M, last week. She’s had a few updates since then, and in her own words:

You can follow the progress of visits, current health, etc on my blog with my hysterectomy tag but this is just a summary of the situation. The full details can also be found here: http://giveneyestosee.com/blog/hysterectomy/

Memorial Day Weekend [Note to UK readers: US Memorial Day weekend is the same weekend as our bank holiday -R] I went into the ER after two days of non-stop severe pain. Many tests and an overnight stay later, it turns out that my uterus is full of tumors.I have multiple softball and multiple baseball sized fibroid tumors and equally large cysts. The total mass is approximately the size of a basketball.

I was on a fast-track for a hysterectomy when my OB/GYN discovered that it was worse then initially believed and I’m too high risk for surgery. High risk is 250 grams of tumors. I’m at over 1,200 grams. I am now on a shot to induce medical menopause in order to attempt to shrink the tumors prior to surgery. The larger the tumors, the more complicated and lengthy the surgery, the more time I will be under anaesthesia, the more complications and blood transfusions I will need. So we’re trying to get them shrunk at least half.

I work a part-time job that does NOT give me insurance. I also do NOT get paid for any time off period. So I’m already out two weeks of pay with many more to come. (When I do have surgery, I’ll be out 4 weeks in unpaid recovery as well.) I have already applied for and been denied financial and medical assistance by the state. I’m asking anyone who can help for your support as a result.

I need a total of $2,600 just to pay my OB/GYN, $1,400 of which must be up front before the surgery. This does NOT include the hospital, anaesthesiologist, radiology, etc. It also does NOT include the fees for the office visits and tests pre-op. (I’ve already spend $463 on those as of June 7th)

How can you help Miss M? Several ways —

First, you can make a direct donation to Miss M via this link: http://tiny.cc/hysterectomy. Link will take you directly to PayPal, the safest way to send money online. If you’d prefer, Miss M can provide her PO Box for a physical cheque.

Alternately, Miss M could use some help with her groceries while they are down to one income, and I’m sure gift cards for Wal-Mart or Target would be well appreciated! Or to Michaels, so Miss M could get more crafting supplies to make more things to sell. Miss M lives in Tampa, FL, so please check before sending other store gift cards to make sure she has one local.

Second, you can take a look at her Etsy shop, PhoenixFireDesigns, or her Website, PhoenixFireDesigns. Miss M makes beautiful jewellery, and like I said in a previous post, I have many items made by her including a Tree of Life necklace, a personalized Bird’s Nest necklace, snowman earrings, and several custom pieces. I always look at Miss M’s site first when I need a gift for someone!

Here is just a small selection of items Miss M has for offer:




[all images above are © PhoenixFireDesigns and used with permission]

Third, you can take a look at the items donated by her friends over on PhoenixFunds. Currently, there are some children’s items, chocolates, and accessories listed, with more being listed as they come in. I plan on donating some 8×10 photographs and a few pieces of jewellery this weekend.

Forth — If you are a crafter and would like to donate an item for sale in PhoenixFunds, please let me know in the comments. We are looking for anything handmade, as well as craft supplies and vintage items (basically, anything that can be sold on Etsy. This also includes patterns for things). You can either send your donated item directly to Miss M for listing, or email detailed photos/description of your item. If you choose to hold onto your item, you will be responsible for shipping the item when it sells. If you sell on Etsy or on an external website, Miss M would be more than happy to link back to your site as a thank you.

Fifth….Promote this. Please re-post this post or a version of this post, post the links to the shops, post a link to my post here or to Miss M’s blog at giveneyestosee. Miss M is also on LiveJournal, and can be found as memoryanddreamover there.

I have been friends with Miss M for years, and we have met in person several times. I have been to her house and met her partner and her kitties, so I can vouch that this is 100% legitimate. Miss M prefers not to use her real name online, however I assure you I do know her real name. Out of respect for Miss M, I will not refer to her as anyone other than Miss M on my blog.

Thank you for reading, and I hope you can help in some way!

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The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, or the RSS feed(s), please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users can comment directly on Facebook.]

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Another Update on my Arm….

It’s not yet been a week since my surgery, but the nurse I see at the GP practice is amazed at how well it’s healing up. There’s barely any packing in it at all today, and she thinks that by the end of the week I’ll be able to just change the dressing on my own.

There is no sign of any infection either.

From the amount of packing pulled out last Thursday, and the results of my ultrasound, I know the infection ran really deep, so it’s quite a relief to have it all out. The fact that I’m healing super fast just goes to show how much better it was to finally cut out the infection instead of keep on shoving various antibiotics down my throat. I don’t blame the GP at all – I know surgery is always the last option, but when I had been dealing with this problem since December 2009….seems to me like surgery should have been obvious to the GP. But anyway. It’s happened and it’s gone, so that’s all that matters.

Since December 2009, when I first saw a doctor about this problem, here’s the breakdown of meds:

10 weeks of various antibiotics, each one getting stronger than the previous one
20 weeks on a combination antibiotic/steroid cream (used it every other week though, so I suppose only 10 weeks)
9 Months + on Zineryt (5 months to get rid of initial infections, currently using it to keep infections at bay)

I have an open office document about to spill onto it’s fifth page documenting everything related to the armpit infections, including every single visit to the nurse or GP. Since December 2009 I have had 16 GP appointments because of this problem and 30 nurse appointments (and counting). 4 visits to the After Hours GP, and one visit to A&E. It took the visit to A&E to get the problem sorted out once and for all (at least, we hope!).

If I get another infection in the other armpit, I think I’m going to just ask them for surgery right away. A week or two of recovering from surgery is so much better than constantly being on antibiotics and creams and having ugly colourful goo coming out of my armpits — I ruined MANY shirts in the past year and a half thanks to this mess!

Also, for those of you in the UK – don’t forget about prescription pre-payment. I just filled out the forms and paid for three months for £29 and with everything I had to pick up today I nearly broke even. (there’s also a yearly option for £104) It’s a good option if you have to pay for prescriptions and know you will be put on several at once.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users can comment directly on Facebook.]

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The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, or the RSS feed(s), please notify me.

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Healthcare Costs

First, I should explain – The NHS is not free. We do not pay for GP visits, specialist visits, or hospital stays out of pocket, but we do pay for prescriptions (at least in England), eye exams, dental exams, and a few other things. Even with few out of pocket expenses, it still does not make healthcare in the UK free.

The NHS is funding through taxation, which is paid by most residents automatically through their employer via paycheck deductions (similar to SS contributions in the US). You need to be an “ordinary resident”* of the UK in order to access the NHS for “free”. Visitors are limited to not being charged for a visit to A&E (but you will get charged if you have to be admitted), treatment for communicable diseases, and family planning.

I was recently in hospital for three days (two nights) following a visit to A&E. Technically, I was admitted and discharged while I was sitting in A&E since I was finally sent home to sleep and come back. The following day, I reported to the EAU (Emergency Assessment Unit), which is a branch of A&E. I do not know if the five hours we spent in the EAU would count as an A&E visit or as part of my hospital admittance. I also had the following:

-IV drip of paracetamol (3)
-ultrasound
-blood tests, urine tests, MRSA test
-saline drip (3)
-“meal in a bag” drip (2)
-anaesthesia
-oxygen
-anti-nausea medicine
-paracetamol (16 doses of 2 pills)
-dihydrocodine (1 dose)
-“meals” – cups of tea, sandwiches, biscuits. (no hot meals)
-sponge bag kit (shampoo, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, comb)
-surgery/abscess drainage (with dressing after)

To my knowledge, I saw 7 doctors, 3 junior doctors, 2 ward sisters, 1 nurse constantly (i was assigned to her), and about 12 other nurses sporadically, including the ones at my surgery.

And the only thing we had to pay out of pocket for was £10 for two days of use of the telly/phone/internet.

It’s absolutely shocking that once I started to google around for the “average cost of US hospital stay” I found astonishing figures….

-$85 for an IV
-$5 per pill of pain relief (Tylenol in the US, but is the equivalent to paracetamol)
-$150 just for the use of a bed
-$45 for a “wash bag”

And one site suggests that I might have been charged $16,000 for my three-day stay, based on their figures they posted for the average cost of a five-day stay. Of course, I would assume that if I was in the US, I would have had insurance to cover some of that, but I also know US insurance companies are shady and won’t agree to pay for certain things and will just make up the rules as they go along, so I can’t even begin to estimate what out of that $16k we might have had to pay.

Would I have had the surgery if we were living in the US and I didn’t have insurance? Probably not. I can still remember my ER bill from when I broke my foot in Michigan (and had no insurance). I was only in the ER for about 30 minutes because it was empty and had 2 x-rays done and I received a bill for $1000. I have relatives who with insurance received bills for hundreds of thousands of dollars. I know some people who would have just taken a pin or knife to the abscess and attempted to drain it themselves because of a lack of insurance…or even if they had insurance because insurance doesn’t cover everything.

I’d have to look at one of Tim’s paystubs to find out how much we contribute in taxes, and then I’d have to try to figure out how much of that goes to the NHS, so I won’t bother. But people who hate the idea of socialized medicine and think the US shouldn’t do it need to take a step back and look at the solid facts – a socialized healthcare system means that anyone who needs care will receive it when they need it. Yes, I was stuck waiting in a hospital for three days for my surgery because emergencies came in that took priority, but if this had been a life-threatening emergency, I’d have been at the top of the queue.

Websites I looked at while writing this post:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Health_Service_%28England%29
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acute_assessment_unit
http://www.wehct.nhs.uk/index/your_care/wards/emau.htm
http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Healthcare/Entitlementsandcharges/OverseasVisitors/Browsable/DH_074374
http://www.cancercompass.com/message-board/message/all,5782,0.htm
http://www.georgiainjurylawyerblog.com/2010/03/outrageous_hospital_charges_ex.html
http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/health/2004-04-13-rising-hospital-costs_x.htm

*“Ordinarily resident” is a common law concept interpreted by the House of Lords in 1982 as someone who is living lawfully in the United Kingdom voluntarily and for settled purposes as part of the regular order of their life for the time being, with an identifiable purpose for their residence here which has a sufficient degree of continuity to be properly described as settled. (http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Healthcare/Entitlementsandcharges/OverseasVisitors/Browsable/DH_074374)

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Addendum

[X-posted to blog, facebook, and lj. Again, apologies if you see this multiple times]

There were a few things I left out in my last post (Can you blame me? Typing at 4AM! LOL)

I wanted to add –

-Moving me to the ward where I’d be with “women my own age” was a bit of a joke. I was the youngest there. The woman across from me was the same age as my mom, the woman in the bed next to me the same age as my aunt, and the fourth woman was in her mid-80s. Monday we did little talking, but on Tuesday when 2 of the ladies were discharged, Sue (the one my mom’s age) and I became chatty so it was still a good move to move me, as the ward I had been on previously was full of all mid-80s women in various stages. The first ward also was very large and this one only had 4 beds in the room, so it was fairly quiet.

-As I said, the food I was given was awful. The biggest problem was, the NHS serves the hot meal at Lunch time, and since each day I was on “Nil by mouth” for Lunch, I had to skip it. The person serving the food always put aside whatever was cold from the meal for me to have when I was allowed to eat, but somehow the night nurse couldn’t find it so I was given those crap sandwiches. I can’t properly judge on the quality of the food, since I didn’t really eat NHS meals.

-The nursing staff….lovely. The daytime ward sister and Vicky were both amazing, as was the other nurse we had on Tuesday (Trina or something like that?). The night time ward sister also was amazing, but there was one night nurse who wasn’t very friendly OR encouraging. On Tuesday night when we were crossing our fingers that I’d still go, her only words to me were “you might not. There could be an emergency”, when all the other nurses were crossing their fingers along with me and telling me “I’m sure you’ll go”. I mean, way to be supportive of your patients! Not to mention, she kicked Tim out the one night before I knew if I was having surgery or not….something I found out later she wasn’t allowed to do as he is my spouse! Random visitors have to stick to visiting hours, but spouses are given all-access. Very annoying. But I loved Vicky. She really pulled out all the stops on me and really was hounding the surgery department to get me in or for them to make a decision. I plan on sending a letter of thanks to her and the hospital as soon as I can hold a pen again!

-Being able to be mobile, even while attached to an IV was great. I never once had to ask for a bedpan/commode, as I was able to always walk to the loo. On Wednesday, I was even allowed to take a shower to wash my hair (before being re-hooked to the IV). We dubbed my pole “Fred”. I haven’t been in a US hospital in years, but the last time I was in one (1998), the nurse forced me to use a bedpan even though I could walk.

-Wearing my own clothing was even better. The last time I was in a hospital in the US for a surgery (1998), I had to immediately change out of my clothing and put on a hospital gown. Here, I only had to wear the gown for the duration of my surgery. I was allowed to wear pajamas (or whatever I wanted, really) the entire time I was waiting, and about an hour after the surgery I was told I could change back out of the gown to be more comfortable. Nice. I also was able to keep my knickers (US: panties) on the entire time, including under my gown. When I was in hospital in the US, I was told I had to remove everything under the gown.

-I really can’t compare services received in the US vs. the UK. I never spent a night in a US hospital other than when I was born, and was a day patient 3 times (4 if you count the spinal tap). The only thing I CAN say is that I don’t think we’d have been able to afford a three-day stay in hospital if we lived in the US.

-As far as US Emergency Room vs UK Accidents & Emergencies go, I think the care was about the same. In the US, you’d have to wait if someone “worse” than you showed up just like you do in the UK. I was seen by triage about 45 minutes after arriving, and was called back to see a doctor about an hour after that. The long wait was only for a bed. In the US, I think the wait between triage and seeing a doctor might have been longer, but again, it always depends on the reason you are there. If you walk in and you are bleeding with something sticking out of you, I expect you’d get immediate care in both the UK and the US.

As far as an update on me goes –

I have a constant pain. The painkillers make it bearable, but it’s still always a dull pain. I found out yesterday from the nurse that I need to see a nurse every single day to have the dressing changed because they need to pack the incision. This really messes with our plans as it includes having the visiting nurses come see me over the weekend to change it on both days, and the visiting nurses cannot guarantee what time of day they will be able to come. During the week, I can easily get to my appointments if Tim has to work, as the practice is only a mile down the road. It’s walkable, or if I don’t want to walk, the bus costs 50p and goes from 3 houses down from me with a stop right opposite the practice.

Yesterday, I had extreme nausea after my nurse appointment. I will make mention of it to the nurse today, as I’m not sure if it was from the pain of being poked, finally coming down from the anaesthetic, or something else. I also might ask for a stronger pain reliever, but I DO NOT want morphine, which is what they almost gave me at the hospital. Thanks, but I don’t fancy being loopy for the next three weeks.

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The Past few Days (or, My NHS Hospital Experience)

[x-posted to blog, lj, and facebook. Sorry if you see this more than once, and apologies for the length. I can use the “more” option on the blog directly, but I don’t think it will cut any length for those of you reading it on an RSS reader.]

For some background –

I have Hidradenitis Suppurativa and was diagnosed in July 2010 after a year of misdiagnoses (2 in the US, 2 in the UK). Basically, what it means is that I have (very persistent!) infections in my armpit sweat glands. The disease hits females more than males (Though apparently men tend to get them more in their groin, women more in the armpits) and there really is no known cause or cure. There are loads of things that “might” trigger it, and loads of things that “might” cure it. Basically, I’m stuck with it until they decide to go away. Treatment (for me) has included loads of different antibiotic medications, a topical steroidal cream (at one point), and most recently, scrubbing with Hibiscrub and then applying Zineryt, a bacterial acne medication.

I have a file 4 pages long that describes my entire history with this problem, including all treatments. I won’t post it, but if you really are that curious, ask me to email it to you.

The Zineryt was doing it’s job, and while my armpit is scarred, the infections themselves were clearing up. And then I got a really bad case of flu that knocked me down for two weeks. At one point, I couldn’t get out of bed and skipped showering for three days. I was drenched in sweat several times each day…and a HS spot developed in my right armpit. (previously, everything was in left). I kept putting Zineryt on it, but on Wednesday or so of last week, I noticed a new spot developing – this one was about 2 inches long, and very narrow, but it hurt a lot. I called to make a regular appointment with my GP, but he was all booked up so I got an appointment to see one of the other GPs in the surgery. Told it was a HS flare up, and given a week of antibiotics with the instructions to come back in a week if it wasn’t healed or got worse.
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A Call to NHS Direct

Recently, my husband was ill. It started on a Friday, and we thought he hit the worst of it on Saturday, but by Monday, he was still feeling under the weather and he began to feel worse overnight on Tuesday. Scary worse. To the point where I wondered if I was going to need to wake my in-laws at 4AM to take us to A&E (I don’t drive).

I went online and filled out the NHS symptom checker. The online service told us that because he had been ill for more than 48 hours, medicine wouldn’t help at this point, and that a nurse would call us to evaluate the situation.

We got the call around 5AM and it was determined that Tim did not need A&E and shouldn’t go to the GP, either (due to spreading the illness). We were advised on what he should eat/drink and what kinds of medicines he could take. At 5 in the morning, when most people who are ill would probably think to head to the hospital if they were feeling as bad as Tim was.

We had to call back an hour later when Tim started showing other symptoms (we were told to call back if things changed). This is the point where if there wasn’t NHS Direct, I would have suggested A&E or After Hours. The nurse on the line, however, told us we didn’t need the hospital, which put my mind at ease.

According to the Telegraph, calls to NHS Direct cost £25.53, and a GP visit costs between £20-25. There are those who call for the closing of NHS Direct, sighting that it will save money. Sure, it just might save 53p-£5, BUT you need to then consider how many more people will be calling the after hours GP service or showing up at A&E. How much does an After hours visit or A&E visit cost the taxpayers? Probably a lot more than £25.53!

An article in the Guardian claims 1/3 of all calls to NHS Direct still result with a trip to A&E or the GP and this is a sign that NHS Direct doesn’t help….but what about that other 2/3 who get answers to their questions? If NHS Direct receives 27,000 calls on a daily basis (again, what the article claims), that means there are 18,000 LESS people each day crowding A&E, After Hours, and their GP office. Surely, you can’t scoff at that!

I don’t think the government should get rid of NHS Direct. The new plan, to create a “111” information number won’t be as effective for one glaringly large reason: the operators answering the phone won’t be trained nurses. Plans are to give operators 6 hours of “anatomy” training and basic first aid, and then have ONE nurse on staff. I don’t like that. How will it be any better than someone going to Google and entering their symptoms and then finding a website that tells them they have something far worse than they actually do? When I put in my husband’s symptoms, the number one result was Swine Flu (which he didn’t have). If we hadn’t already spoken to a nurse directly, I probably would have been panicking! The second illness it kept telling me he had was Meningitis (again, he didn’t have that). Both are really scary and a LOT worse than what the nurse said. I can just picture calling into 111 and being told that you have a life-threatening illness when you really don’t. Something like that could cause further problems for someone just from panicking.

I sincerely hope the government decides against closing the NHS Direct number. If they’re worried about staffing issues, why not only have it open in the evenings,on weekends, and holidays? During the day, people could call their GP office if they had questions, but I think having NHS Direct is crucial for emergencies in the middle of the night.

News articles I mentioned:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/3253245/Every-call-to-NHS-Direct-costs-25.html
http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/aug/27/nhs-direct-health-phone-service

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NHS After Hours

I have had the misfortune to require a doctor after office hours twice this week. In the US, if I needed my doctor after office hours I would have to call into the answering service, leave a message, have my doctor (or the doctor on call) paged by the answering service, then wait for a phone call back from a nurse or secretary to tell me what to do (usually wait until the following day or head to the ER as those were the only options). Here in the UK, you call your regular GP number and if it’s after hours it will connect you automatically to the after hours operators. They will take down your information (I needed to provide my NHS number and tell them a bit about my problem plus give a phone number I could be reached at) and you’ll get a call back from a nurse a few minutes later. That nurse will ask you more questions (obviously, their first goal is to try to diagnose you over the phone and to make sure it’s not a true emergency). In my case, it was determined that I did not have a life-threatening emergency requiring A&E (Accidents & Emergencies, AKA the Emergency Room in the US), but that I did need to see an after hours doctor. Fortunately, we live only about 6 miles away from the county hospital that provides this service.

The after hours GP at the county hospital is located right next to A&E. For being after hours, it was surprisingly fairly empty both nights. The first night, there was one person waiting to be seen and 2 waiting for test results. The second night had a few more people, but it still barely made a dent in the waiting room seating areas!

The first night I went in, I saw a GP. He was able to access my NHS files to see what I was being seen for by my GP and what prescriptions I was on. After giving me an exam, he decided I needed to be put on more antibiotics and a heftier pain killer than regular paracetamol (closest US match: Tylenol/Acetaminophen ), so he wrote up a prescription and the nurse directed us to an “all night” pharmacy.

The pharmacy turned out to be the local Boots store we visit on occasion. They have a walk-up window instead of you actually going into the store so it was a little chilly while waiting!

But we were soon home and only spent £14.40 (the visit to the after hours was, of course, free and included in my NHS care).

The following day when I called, they did their best to reassure me and calm me down (I was having a problem related to the previous night), but in the end it was determined that I needed to see the Nurse Practitioner at the after hours just to be on the safe side. My visit with the nurse took 10 minutes or so, but it was enough to assure me that I was okay, and enough to assure the nurse that I wasn’t in any danger.

This is just one more reason in a long list of reasons why I really like the NHS and wish a similar system existed in the US.

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A Day Out

I took the bus into Lincoln today because I had a few errands I needed to run.

I got off the bus at the “top of the hill” near the Cathedral, as my original plans were to talk to the people at the pub we want to use for the reception in person, but that didn’t work out. As I was walking down Steep Hill (yes, it’s called that) I happened to spot a volunteer sign in the window of the Cancer Research charity shop. Since my application for OxFam must have been rejected (never heard back from them!), I was still looking for some place to volunteer, both as something to do, and as part of the new requirements for seeking citizenship in the UK. I walked in, asked about volunteering, and 10 minutes later I was “hired”. I’ll be working every Thursday from 1-5PM, which goes nicely with my other activity on Thursdays – an all-female Barbershop group (part of Sweet Adelines).

After landing the “job”, I went to Primark to replace some of the items I accidentally shrank in the wash* and then to Boots (drug store) to use some coupons that expired at the end of the month, and to place an order for photos to be printed to go with my insurance claim form. Then, it was the trek over to the other side of High Street to Argos to make a return. Right as I got to the barriers for the train, they went down, so I sent a text to Tim. He called and played “big brother” on me by looking at me through his CCTV! Item returned and new item purchased (I needed a new small crock pot), I walked back only to get to the crossing right as the barriers were going down again.

I met up with Tim and we went shopping for Mother’s Day cards and Birthday cards and then decided we’d just go look at eyeglass frames at one of the discount stores. I found frames for both regular and sunglasses that I liked (and they were only £70) and so we asked about making an appointment, and there happened to be an opening right then, so this afternoon I had an eye exam and got new glasses and sunglasses! I pick up the glasses on Thursday.

We also did our weekly run at Tesco, and now I’m busy (at midnight) finishing roasting a chicken so I can use it tomorrow in a stew I’m making for Tim’s grandad.

I just need to keep my eyes open for another half hour….

*Last week when I did the wash, I forgot that temperatures were in Celsius and I set it for 60…..60C is a hot water wash, not the lukewarm water wash I thought it was.

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One Month!

I’ve officially lived in the UK for one month, as of….well, right now, since my plane landed at 530 in the morning on the 21st of January. I’m settling into married life and life in the UK, and things are starting to get sorted –

*I’ve been added to Tim’s bank accounts and have received my debit card
*I have my NHS number and card and have been in to see the GP several times
*I have an EHIC card, so I’m covered if Tim and I jaunt into the rest of the EU and I need a doctor
*I have my NI number, so I can open savings accounts and get a job (if we decide I should)
*I have a library card, which has proven to be quite useful
*We joined the co-op and started earning a small bit for dividends
*I’ve been contacted by a local choir and have been invited to attend rehearsal this week

….the only thing left is for me to sort out the Provisional License, I think. As that requires sending off my passport for a month, I wanted to make sure I got everything else taken care of first.

It’s been a wild and crazy month, but I do love it here. I love being with Tim and we’re slowly getting the house sorted (and re-decorated) and everything is falling into place. We’ve even got most of the reception here planned already!

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