Monthly Archives: January 2012

Cancer survivors can face poor quality of life

So please sign petition




This time it is the British Dental Health Foundation that is calling for help in signing a petition to ensure the NHS gives cancer patients proper care.

They say that  up to half of all head and neck cancer survivors face a diminished quality of life, even after five years of survival.

A recent study undertaken by the University of Iowa concluded that a large percentage of long-term survivors of head and neck cancer have poor oral function, resulting in persistent eating problems and long term depression.

  • 51.6 per cent reported problems with eating
  • one in four survivors still experienced speech problems
  • more than a third recorded low functionality after the five year analysis.

So not much difference there with long-term survivorship problems caused by many other cancers.

In Britain

Mouth cancer campaigners have recently estimated 6,000 people in the UK contracted the disease in 2011, and while early detection can transform survival rates to 90 per cent, without it one in two will die.

According to Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter, the study highlights the problems mouth cancer sufferers face.

But anyone analysing this research will find that the conclusions will apply to 99% of other cancers.  We are all in this together.

While Dr Carter suggests the results show patients need as much support from the health service as possible, a loophole in the NHS means problems may be compounded, as mouth cancer patients have no guarantee that their restorative dental treatment will be paid for by the NHS.

If this sounds familiar, more and more cancer patients across the board are reporting loss of care – time for follow-up appointments being stretched – or even ‘forgotten’ altogether.  Or patients are asked, “call us if you feel you want an appointment,”  knowing the average patient won’t want to make a fuss.  Tests to take longer to organise, etc.

So even if you have a different kind of cancer, it won’t take 30 seconds to support those with mouth cancer and sign the petition calling for inequality to be put right in the new commissioning arrangements for NHS dental contracts, to make sure that mouth cancer sufferers are exempt from dental charges.

Click through to

and with enough signatures this will  prompt debate of the issue in the House of Commons.

And next time other cancer survivors can ask for help with ensuring the NHS fulfils its obligations to cancer survivors.

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Starting up your own business after cancer

Getting an income

It couldn’t be a worse time to try and get back to work after cancer.

The only upside is that poor figure seen here in the middle is no longer YOU!  (with thanks to

Unemployment figures rise weekly, and what horrifies me is the lack of support given to cancer survivors by Dept. of Health, major cancer charities, etc .

Continue reading

Would you trust a Junior Doctor with your life?

Where was Sister

when patients were

made pincushions?


In our celeb. hunting culture, one would expect a hospital to offer  dignity and care to its patients.

But anyone watching the docusoap Junior Doctors, filmed at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, would have been squirming at the undignified and painful procedures it seemed to allow trainee doctors to inflict on its patients.

If these doctors are let loose at weekends (as seems to be usual procedure) this could explain the scary figures just announced by the NHS:

  • Patients are 11% more likely to die if taken into hospital on a Saturday than if admitted on a weekday
  • And a staggering 16% more likely to die if admitted on Sunday.

And watching the latest episode of the TV docusoap, Junior Doctors, the reasons why seem obvious.


Who allowed filming without demanding approval?

How Chelsea and Westminster Hospital allowed filming on its wards is  question that its Governors need to ask – but will they?

As the cameras followed these so-called doctors around, one squirmed at the pain they inflicted, without seeming to show any remorse.  Priya was told in no uncertain terms by one feisty lady that she didn’t want her – and to get the nurse (Priya seemed reluctant).

Having spent a year in an 0ld-fashioned NHS ward (when I had polio), us patients knew that Sister was always keeping a watchful eye on our care.  There is no way she would have allowed a junior doctor to take six goes at inserting a cannula.  But today’s Sisters were very absent when TV filmed in Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.

A charming Mr. Straw and young patient Alfie were subjected to appalling treatment – Mr. Straw just told the doctor he’d had enough – Alfie screamed blue murder, and can’t say I blame him.  Where were the nurses protecting their patient’s “dignity”?  Not to be seen.

Alfie’s mother had the right idea, snatching Alfie up and removing him smartly from the doctor’s presence.  Eventually it was shown that the painful cannulas could be inserted when Alfie was under anaesthetic – but why subject the poor kid to such trauma when it wasn’t necessary?  Or was a human pincushion needed for the doctor’s training tick box?

Chasing TV ratings instead of looking after patients

Now I am beginning to understand why modern treatment is so difficult to access, whilst my local hospital chases TV ratings, without any thought for dignity or comfort of the patients being filmed on their premises.

None of  these  scenes showed any nurse in evidence, even when Priya’s patient demanded to see a nurse.  But when I asked one of the Royal Colleges why this didn’t happen today, I am told it is not responsibility of the Sister who is supposedly in charge of that ward.

After the last programme, I am sitting up in bed, with thoughts of where and with whom I would like to use blunt cannulas.  And I wonder what patients about to be admitted for operations are thinking?  Bet they are even more scared.

What’s the alternative?

I’m off to the Vet when I have another medical problem.  At least they are properly medically trained.

I was reminded of the time a doctor spent 30 minutes trying to take blood from me.   I gritted my teeth (but ended up looking like a junkie with all the bruises).  Eventually she threw her tray of instruments down on my bed and rushed out the room.  Twelve hours later (at midnight) a proper doctor inserted the cannula without fuss.  But I had been sent in for 24-hour antibiotics and had to spend another day inside.

English: Picture of a female Border Terrier pu...

Image via Wikipedia

Shortly after I came out of hospital I had to take one of my dogs to the Vet.  Whilst there, Vet told me he would have to do blood tests, and I freaked out.  How was I going to keep a lively dog calm when being poked with painful needles?

A few seconds later, the Vet laid down a syringe, full of blood, with a happy dog lying on the examining coach.  I gasped, and explained to the Vet what had happened to me.

“Aahh yes”, said the Vet.  “But if we hurt our patients they bite us”.

Watch my teeth!

If you like black humour, read this critic’s story on the programme



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Massage is good for cancer patients – and part of treatment in European cancer centres

You get massage around the world

during cancer treatment –

 why not UK?

Connecticut Center for Massage Therapy

Most European and American cancer centres automatically offer massage to patients – NOT ‘Swedish’ or’Sports massage , but gentler forms such as aromatherapy, with a light touch. Continue reading

Fight cold winds with good skincare


Calendar Girls

Image via Wikipedia

Products that deliver care


It’s that time of year when we  need to make promises to look after ourselves, and in particular our skin.

The bitter cold weather that has hit Europe, Britain and North America is a reminder to protect – protect – and moisturise our skin.

As cancer patients, we have even more reason to do so;  if we don’t, we risk ending up with very dry, lined and peeling skin caused by side effect of our drugs, and in the worst scenario this causes splits, lesions and leaves us open to infection  – ughhh!

The Telegraph says the average British woman spends £483 per person on anti-ageing products (doesn’t mention men – but bet they are just as eager buyers).

Each day a new cream gets launched on the beauty counter,

But how do we know which and what to buy?

It’s all very well telling us how much we spend, but I bet a large amount of the £483 goes on products that promise the earth – but don’t deliver.  And unless you are a research chemist, it is difficult to know what is good for your skin and what is just advertising hype.

You have no idea what fantastic rubbish comes across my desk – whenever there is a launch of some ‘celeb’ product, suddenly I am the PR girl’s best friend.  But – I always insist on trying anything new on myself, knowing full well that if the product isn’t very good, the PR machine will do everything in its power to blind one with champagne and gifts, but never let you actually try out the product.

And now, with Valentine’s Day coming up, a lot of ‘cheap ‘companies are out to entice unsuspecting men into buying some very dubious ‘skincare’.  So if you are at all worried, I suggest you print out this page and ring round the products you think might suit you.

Here is a selection of the goodies that have been sent to me to try, and which I found actually did work on me.

REMEMBER – I am NOT medically qualified, so it is best to ask advice of your CNS, dermatologist or chemist first – and then do a test by rubbing a small amount on your arm – waiting 24 hours to see if your skin reacts – then if OK go ahead.


WELEDA Citrus Refreshing Bath Milk.  This is just the product to help counter winter winds.  Weleda are old and firm favourites with me, and I love their Bath Milk lotions.  Whenever I need a soak after a hard day’s work, or want to re-nourish my skin (or both), I pour in bath milk to replenish the moisture in my skin.  As its name says, this has a lovely Citrus scent (watch out the males don’t pinch it!) and first time I used it I just floated away.             £9.50  for 200 ml.


If Scotland is going to become a separate country, I do hope there aren’t going to be any stupid customs taxes.

Because if so, I would hate Arran Aromatics Angelica Body Lotion to cost any more!  Although for £12 for 300 mml it is very good value, especially as it is keeping my skin lovely and soft whilst the winter is doing its worst.

This company makes a lovely selection of goodies, all of which are reasonably priced.  And their products come in delightful soft, flowery scents, which shouldn’t upset any scent police!


If you have a cold bathroom, or just find it too tiring to spread on cream, try body oils.  These are lighter, and easier to ‘spread’, but are just as good as creams and lotions.  There are two types:  1.  Shower oils to use for cleansing, and 2.  Body oils to use after a bath/shower.

One of my favoourite shower oils is made by the French company, L’Occitane.  Currently I  am using their Almond (Amande) oil, but they also make a dreamy Citrus Verbena scent.  Buy these from the QVC channel online shop, as they often have very good deals.


Nature’s Inspiration Lavender Body Scrub is a gorgeous treat that does one’s skin an incredible amount of good.  It smells nice (which helps) because it uses Lavender, used also for antiseptics;  comes with a dinky measuring scoop (which is ideal for cooking), and it really smoothes off those rough patches that skin gets in the winter – as well as nourishing and moisturing skin.

I am a great believer in simple packaging, so as to save the trees.  But this company goes one further and says all its jars and packaging are from ethical companies.  Not only that, but for once, when I have finished a beauty product, I can use the jar for storing herbs and other cooking ingredients.

Cost £14 and can be purchased on or on Amazon.





A very pretty slightly scented cleanser wash, scented with Jasmine which has healing properties.  It conditions at the same time, and hydrates skin, but doesn’t leave a residue.

The bottle is all the right ‘eco’ things, and I liked its design – eco-friendly products don’t have to look ‘goodie-goodie’!

And the bottle lasted a long time;  when I came near the end I opened it up, put in some water and had at least another week’s washes out of the bottle.


From the same stable comes Clary Sage and Evening Primrose Oil contains what is says on the label, and both plants are good for skin.  It’s an anti-ageing facial oil, and works wonders in reducing those nasty signs of skin ageing.  With a clean herbie  scent,  the combined natural properties in the oils are powerful workers to help repair skin.  Use it every day, and you will soon find that your skin is much smoother.  £21.99

Tripping up the stairs to the local beauty salon, I noticed there were boxes of products from a firm called ENVIRON.  Talking to Joanne, as she gave me a massage, they said they were trying out Environ Advanced Skincare, and suggested I tried their Ionzyme C-Quence Cleanser.

As they say on their website,  “Environ® skin care products have been formulated to combat and relieve the harmful effects of the harsh climatic changes of today’s environment specifically pollution and ever-increasing doses of radiation from the sun due to the thinning of the protective ozone layer. Added to these are the modern-day effects of social and work stresses and poor diet”.

The cleanser certainly performed well, and not only cleanses my face, but leaves it soft and moist.  You need to have a personalised consultation with a trained Environ therapist before you can buy any environ products.  So call 0800 0433 365 for more information.

WEIL for Origins.

Part of the Estée Lauder giant group that does so much to help us, Weil have come up with Mega-Mushroom Skin Relief.

I did start to read the bumf – but was more interested that using this serum on my face twice a day, the ‘grey’ look disappeared from my skin, and it came alive.

The little bottle lasted a long time too – about three months –  so well worth the £56.

Once the mushrooms have done their best, you can change to a milder lotion, the Mega-Mushroom Soothing Treatment Lotion at £24.



If, like me, you dread washing your hair and having cold drips down your neck, there is a lovely ‘cheat’ product on the market:


Or you can use RICHARD WARD’S Couture Hair Optimiser Hair Reviver.  I spray this on my hair when my salon blow dry is starting to look past it’s sell-by date, and lo and behold, the waves bounce back. It’s a bit like a hair spray that gives my hair a lift, and saves my set for another day!

Richard Ward makes lots of different products, and all at reasonable prices under £20.  His website is worth looking at;  no hype, no false promises, just a lot of sensible wording to help you choose the right product for your hair.  And what’s even nicer, no mention that he does the Duchess of Cambridge’e gorgeous hair.  And the rest of the Middleton family.


Soap can be very drying, so I have tried out ‘soap in a dispenser’, that you just pump out – and am finding my hands are much less scratchy.  One of nicest I have come across is made by Neom;  Organic Handwash, in one of their lovely scents :  Moroccan Blush Rose.  I had thought that these handwashes would be better for my hands, but now I have come to the end of the first bottle, I wish I had discovered this before.  At this time of the year my hands were usually rought and sore, but now they are so much smoother.

Tip:  Keep a bottle or jar of hand cream by EVERY tap in your home.  And one by your front door next to the house keys, so you pop some on every time you go out.   You need this to protect your hands from cold winter winds and to re-moisturise whenever you wash your hands;  and it’s also useful in the summer if you choose one with an SPF number to protect from the sun.  Doing duty by my taps at the moment are:

Essie Intensive Recovery Hand Cream – which I love.  Not sticky, but I can feel it soaking in and doing my poor dry hands some good. It also repairs cuticles, so does double duty.  Essie make excellent hand care products, and I am about to try out some of their nail products to try and counter the damage that drugs do to them.  When I told them about the problems we face,  they came back with excellent advice, which showed their research chemists had looked into the harm that drugs do to our skin.  Nice people.   – if only the medical profession would work with Essie and similar companies to help find solutions to our problems, rather than the doctors looking down their noses.

Just under £20, and you can get it from umpteen websites, if it isn’t in your local store.

I now know why my girlfriends always want to ‘wash their hands’ when they visit:  they look to see what hand cream they can ‘borrow’.


Baileys Home

provides products for gardeners, one of which is their fabulour Citronella Handcream.  When you buy a jar, do get another one for anyone you know who is a keen gardener, because the quirky garden designs around the jar make it look less ‘girly’ than most.    They will love the list of ingredients, all written in the Latin names they are used to (in English as well!).  They also list ”not tested on animals’, whereupon a visiting dog immediately went to the jar I had opened to lick it!   Didn’t do him any harm though, but I snatched it back as it does my hands a lot of good.

And do have a look at their website:  it explains that “when we’re not rescuing and recycling, we design simple useful products with a subtle sense of humour and nice labels. We also source some things from small family run companies who have been making the same things for generations”.




Clinique has sent me a jar of their new REPAIRWEAR UPLIFTING FIRMING CREAM. This will be in the shops in a month or so, and well worth putting your name down to be the first to try this out.

As Clinique reminds us, as we age, natural processes in the skin begin to slow down. Skin begins to lose volume, collagen and elastin production decreases and the pull of gravity starts to show. All these factors lead to a loss of cushion that keeps the face looking plump and youthful.

But after trying out this Repairwear cream, my skin really is looking miles better.  It’s firmer;  its glow has returned and I can look at myself in the mirror without having to stare at lines and wrinkles.  Apparently the cream uses modern technology to help repair and rebuild the skin, and I was interested to see that the formula includes Mitostime, a botanical extract derived from brown algae harvested off the coast of France.  I have written elsewhere about the benefits that seaweed contains, and this is another product that is making use of age-old ingredients in a modern way. Clinique says it helps strengthen the foundation of the skin, providing the tension to support the collagen and elastin matrix.

Like all their products, this is Allergy Tested. 100% Fragrance Free. Oil-Free. Dermatologist Tested.
Ophthalmologist Tested.  For Stockist: 0870 034 2566.

RRP £ £50.00 / €68.0


Those helpful people at Flexitol have  come up with a ‘saver’ for our poor nails:  Nail Revitaliser Gel.  On the package it says it is ‘for discoloured and thickened nails’, but Flexitol suggested it might help with my nails that are literally crumbling away, thanks to side effects of one of my drugs (can’t find out which one).

I was having to file my nails two or three times a day, to get rid of crumbling and splitting tips, and use sharp nail scissors at least once a day to cut off split ends.   I have only used this Gel for two weeks, but so far I am down to filing my nails about every three days, and only once have I had a split I have had to cut off.

The gel comes in a small tube with a brush applicator at the end.  Very easy to apply to nails, and I have it sitting by my lap top so I can pick it up when waiting on the phone – then I am not wasting my time listening to so-called Helplines ringing.

It will take about two months before my nails grow out completely, so watch this space!

It’s available onliner or at most branches of Boots – and costs £6 – £10, depending on offers.

Enjoy – and let’s hope for warmer winds!



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Fun project for kids with cancer who love dogs

Inspire kids!I took these photos on 6 March 2010 at the cer...


Especially if they are doing projects in a Hospital School, or have adopted a cancer charity for a class project.

And especially, especially if they have cancer, and are wondering if ever they will be able to finish with treatment and do anything extraordinary.

The Iditarod Dog Sled Race takes place every year, run for ten or more gruelling days across Alaska.

It has followers across the world – including millions of kids that love the sight of cuddly husky dogs.

And – it has become a tradition for cancer survivors to take part in the race.  Several well-known competitors have survived cancer.

Cancer Survivor Lancy Mackey has won the race a record number of times – and will probably race again this year.

As will Mastectomy survivor Dee Dee Jonrowe, who kits out her dogs in pink boots.  Dogs have to wear these (much to their dislike) as the trail gets iced up with sharp pathways.

So kids can follow their ‘chosen’ musher (racer) and watch whilst they and their dogs battle across what is known as the Last Great Race on Earth.

And men and women take part – equally.  Some of most famous winners have been women.

Teachers – use the race as classroom resource

The race goes on 24/7.

Once racers set off, depending on weather and condition of dogs, they will race whenever the dogs want, so as the teams spread out there is something happening all the time.  This is ably recorded by race officials and put up on Internet.

It can become addictive to log on and find out just where ‘your’ favourite team is.

Included in race reports are vivid snapshots of what life is like for the locals – both native Alaskans and incomers who live there because of the way of a life well-away from commercialisation.

And, if teachers have the time, a class can take part in the preparations:

Message from Race Organisers

“Once again To My Favorite Teachers and all others willing to make this happen”.

Feb 12th is the last day you can get your School Class/Student/Scout Group
participating in the Iditarod Trail Mail Educational Project in the Mail.
Project site: <>

Time Ticks – But this year I am offering for anyone that can send a
list of those participants that they have gotten to join the fun of the
Iditarod Trail Educational Mail Project as first timers, a

Genuine Used on the Iditarod Trail Dog Bootie”

from an Iditarod Dog Team finishing the Race here in Nome.

We have already received 26 projects in the Mail.

Right Now we have plenty of snow and plenty Cold, Since the 23rd of
December no snow (we already have plenty) and the average temperature
has huddled around -25f with only a one day high of +12f briefly and a
2-day low of -42f.

Hope you’ll have someone, a class/group or more,
participating in the Iditarod Trail Educational Mail Project (ITEMP)?
Remember in the mail by the 12th of February.   LEO


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MP helps child with cancer get operation abroad

NHS funds cancer treatment abroad ~


After intervention by MP



Cancer patient Zac Knighton-Smith had surgery in Germany

when NHS cancelled two planned operations.

Luckily for Zac, his mother doesn’t hang around when something threatens her child.  She had managed to get Zac on a trial in Germany, funded by NHS.  The doctors there agreed that Zac would benefit from surgery, and he returned home for an operation.

After the NHS cancelled two planned operations, Zac’s mother Sam Knighton contacted the centre in Germany, who agreed they would carry out the surgery.  A week after Zac’s second operation had been cancelled by the NHS, he was in Germany being operated on.  He had four Lymph nodes removed in a life-saving operation for Neuroblastoma, a rare form of cancer.


Operation Postponed twice

Originally Zac was due to have an operation on December 22nd, which was postponed.

It was re-scheduled for January 4th, but again cruelly cancelled, half an hour before Zac and his family were due to leave for hospital to have the operation.  The reason given was the same as the first postponement:  a shortage of suitable Intensive Care beds.

By this time his mother was concerned that time was getting short, and decided to take Zac to Germany for an immediate operation without any delays.  The only downside was she had to pay around £8,000 for her son’s treatment.

MP’s Intervention

At first the NHS refused to reimburse Mrs Knighton Smith for the costs of the operation,  but after Rushden and Wellingborough Tory MP Peter Bone intervened, they climbed down.

In a statement, NHS Northamptonshire said: “We can confirm that the cost of treatment is being borne by the NHS.”

What had happened

The Knighton-Smith family, who flew to Greifswald in Germany for the operation last week, initially had an appointment for Zac to have the operation in the UK on 22nd December, last year.

Then, ” the surgeon’s secretary told us that the surgeon was unable to keep to the appointment due to a lack of paediatric intensive care beds,”said  Mrs Knighton-Smith.

Another appointment was made for 4th January, but this was cruelly cancelled 30 minutes before they were due to leave home for the hospital.

This time Mrs. Knighton Smith was “straight on the phone to the consultants in Germany to see if they could help.”  Zac had had treatment there before, and the Germans confirmed they would carry out the operation.

Meanwhile, whilst Zac was recovering, their MP was asking in the House of Commons  “Can we have a statement from the Health Minister on what went wrong in this country?”

And as a result of him highlighting Zac’s case in such a public place, this later led to the NHS agreeing to fund Zac’s operation.

Mrs Knighton-Smith said they were pleased to get their money back.

“This has made a huge difference to us because obviously we don’t have the pressure of having to worry about where the money is coming from,” she said.


Is this the time to do some sensible cost analysis on NHS treatment;  on the moral and also the monetary side?

Isn’t it time for the British public to accept that they might not be able to have their operation near home, where it is easy for friends and family to visit.  Instead, could it be more cost-effective to send patients further afield, even abroad, and save waiting times and cancellations?

After all, with hospitals trying to send patients home as soon as possible, often no sooner are you awake after a procedure, than you are told “you can go home”.  And with Eurostar and low-cost airlines criss-crossing Europe, it could be quicker to go to a French or Belgian hospital than travel to London from your home.

But the two postponements must have been an enormous strain on Zac and his family.

So, it would be interesting to know what would the cost have been if Zac had had his operation in the UK?  And how does this compare with what the NHS were charged by the German hospital?  One important factor is the much lower rate of MRSA and other hospital-acquired infections in Europe – a factor which is often not accounted for in NHS costings.

Talking about costs to Marion Schneider, owner of the 500-bed Klinic Bad Sulza in Germany,  she said if they had the same administration costs as the NHS, “insurance companies would not pay”.  In Italy the other day I was offered a DEXA scan (no waiting), for 50 Euros (about £40).  My NHS hospital would charge £120 if I paid privately.

It could be that the tax-payer paid less for Zac to be operated on in Germany, than it would have cost the NHS to carry out the operation in Britain.  And Zac and his family were spared as huge amount of anguish.

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Caring for elderly patients – hints, tips and stairlift

How to help when they think you are

still a ‘child’


queen 02

Did Princess Anne start her Royal Trust for Carers out of frustration? !!   Imagine trying to make this pair of pensioners listen to you.

Most Carers, looking after someone older than them, will find they have difficulty in getting them to follow their requests.  And however much you know, they won’t take advice from a ‘child’ (however old you might be).

When my brother was 35 ,  he and father started an argument over dinner.  Daddy eventually became furious as my brother was winning, so thumped the table and shouted “GO UPSTAIRS TO BED”.  And couldn’t see why we all burst out laughing.

So you have my sympathy – and a few tips gleaned from other Carers, and learnt whilst looking after two parents with cancer, who wouldn’t have dreamt of listening to me!


Our parents’ generation are often horrified at us spending so much on our faces.  Mother’s friends bought their skincare at Woolworths, until it closed down.  So they see no need to spend more than a fiver on a jar of face-cream.

When it became obvious that mother needed better skincare, otherwise her face would have become deeeply lined and painful, I took to sneaking Clinique and Elemis into her shopping basket when I had to go to Boots or John Lewis.  Provided I ditched the packaging going home, I could say that ‘”this was on special offer”.  And her face lost its dry, parched skin.


As we get older, our body skin gets parched.  Add cancer drug side effects to the equation, and you have a recipe for itchy skin.   Mother did complain about this, and it must have been painful as she actually asked advice.  As is usual, she had been prescribed E45;  her skin must have become tolerant, so I got her to change to Cetraben (on prescription) and her itching disappeared.  Again, most of her generation wouldn’t dream of using a body cream, but if you explain the problem to the Doctor they will prescribe Cetraben or something similar, then all you have to do is suggest that as the doctor has prescribed this expensive product, why not use it as it would be a shame to waste it.


Again, our ‘fads’ with eating fruit and veg – especially if we insist on Organic – are alien to many older people.  And all the newspaper comment about hospital food has made me question what’s in the ready-meals we buy for the elderly, out of supermarket freezer cabinets.  Yes, they are convenient. Yes, they can be popped into the microwave.  But – what do they contain?

OAPs are usually very patriotic, and can see the sense in supporting British Farmers.  Our local Farmer’s Market has stalls selling ready-prepared meals;  all dishes that the older generation love, such as Cottage Pie, Steak and Kidney, etc.  So I have done a deal with one of the stalls;  I order about three or four of their ready-prepared meals (each meal makes up two portions for an elderly appetite).  I provided the right-sized small containers (which they said they would provide next time), and each week I know the old people will get nutritious meals.

Jane, the farmer’s wife who makes the meals, says she is thinking up new dishes – so there will be plenty of variety.  And I am happy because we have talked over what goes into the pies, and Jane says she wouldn’t know an E-number if it came up and hit her.  She has a regular customer, and I know that every day a nutritious meal will be served by an overworked carer who doesn’t have time to make up a meal from scratch.  Jane has now started to provide ‘comfort puddings’, such as jam roly poly and ginger pudding – and these have been greeted with cries of delight.

P.S.  Sally has just phoned up to ask at which supermarket I bought ‘that lovely pie?  She doesn’t believe in  small shops – but always insists that I buy all her food at the supermarket “because they don’t make a profit out of customers”.  Bless!  Had to do some quick thinking to gloss over the fact the pie had come from the Farmer’s Market.


Mentholatum is a well-known name to most chemists, as they make all kinds of useful over-the-counter remedies, such as Deep Heat, Deep Freeze, Regenovate, etc.  If someone complains of painful joints, and the doctors don’t seem able to help, have a talk with your pharmacist, and more than likely they will suggest one of the remedies made by this company.

They are serious about research, and if you look carefully next time one of those precious mega-millionaire footballers pretends to fall on the pitch in agony, more than likely the coach/physio will come dashing onto the pitch and fish out a canister of Deep Freeze to spray on ‘where it’s hurting’.  So if it works for footballers, Grandad is bound to believe it will work for him.

And I use it myself on my drug-side effect joint pain – and it works for me.  And I am no over-paid footballer (more’s the pity).

Warning:  do discuss whatever medicines Grandad or Grandmother are taking, as there are a few conditions where these type of remedies might react.


If you are worried that a workman might be impersonating an employee of one of the utility companies, my invaluable gas engineer, Colin Blaize, says

1.  Get the workmen to phone before they arrive (they all have mobiles)

2.   Either go on the company’s website to see if they have their employee listed, and their photo posted.  For British Gas look under ‘operatives’ or similar headings for other companies (personnel, our staff, etc).  There should be a photo of the person who is visiting.

3.  Or phone the company to confirm that the person arriving is the right one.

4.  If police come to the door at night, get them to post their warrant card through the door – dial 999 and ask them to verify that the card hasn’t been stolen and it is right police officer.  And don’t forget to hand back the card!


Mother became very unsteady on her feet, and eventually we were horrified to find a new doctor had prescribed some very strong sleeping pills.  We tried to wean her off them – inducing tantrums.  So I took a sample pill down to the herbal remedy shop, and asked the manageress if she could provide something totally similar, but that wouldn’t harm an old lady.   Up she came with an idential object – which she said was a Vitamin supplement and wouldn’t cause any harm.

These were popped into the dosset box, and the sleeping pills fished out.  Next day, after the first night on the vitamin pills,  I innocently enquired “did you sleep well?” and was told “the best night ever”.




And, if you are at your wit’s end, and badly need advice and/or a helping hand, Princess Anne set up her Carer’s Trust to offer help.

To the public, she seems a very contained, self-sufficient and efficient figure.  But, when  The Queen found an intruder in her bedroom at Buckingham Palace, it was  the Princess who realised, under her mother’s dignified exterior, she was very upset and worried.  So she wouldn’t allow her mother to sleep without another member of the family in whichever residence she was staying, and often would fly to be with her for a night, when Prince Philip was away on official  visits.

Their website has a section about useful information for those Carers looking after someone with cancer, to a discussion on where to find lists of reliable tradesmen and workmen.


Washing an elderly person’s hair is often fraught with problems, but a company called Oasis has come up with a clever idea:  a Shampoo Cap.

Everything needed is contained in one hygienic pack.  Instructions are written on the outside, but basically you can put the pack inside the microwave to warm it up first, then place the cap over the hair, so it covers all of it.

Massage gently, making sure all the contents are spread through the hair, then take this off and discard.  And your patient has clean, hygienic hair.

Made by Synergyhealth who make simple kitsyns for giving patients ‘waterless’ bed baths, and other clever ideas.  01772-2999000 Enhanced by Zemanta


This is one of main aids that you have to fight to have installed – then once in, the elderly love using it to zip up and down.

Hertfordshire based company EMS Stairlifts has set up STAIRLIFT ANGELS INITIATIVE. Conceived by directors Jonathan Muir, Mick Armstrong and Thomas Sergeant, this philanthropically motivated initiative has been designed to give back something meaningful to the communities they have served for around the last twenty five years.

EMS Stairlifts is one the UK’s oldest stairlift specialists and has a wealth of experience in the sale, installation, service, maintenance of hoists, stair, floor, step and bath lifts. Based in Baldock Hertfordshire EMS Stairlifts serves the Home Counties region and owns Europe’s largest showroom of full size and fully operative stairlifts.

As Mick Armstrong says,  “While local authorities, housing associations and charities fund the cost of stairlifts for hundreds of people, unfortunately there are many others who, for a whole variety of reasons, are refused such financial assistance and it is precisely for this reason we have set up this scheme.We plan to donate one stairlift, inclusive of all fitting, service cover and warranties, worth thousands of pounds, completely free of charge every month to those applicants we consider most deserving.”

Head of sales Thomas Sergeant made it clear that the STAIRLIFT ANGELS INITIATIVE is not a publicity seeking stunt and said: “EMS is a very successful company that has grown substantially every year and this initiative has been embraced by all the staff, everyone is involved. We intend to honour this sizeable commitment for the foreseeable future, supplying free stairlifts around the region we operate in for many years to come.”

When asked about selection criteria and how the lucky recipients will be chosen, Jonathan Muir replied: “We hope to hear about people who have given much to their communities throughout their lives, perhaps having been involved with charitable endeavours or served their country and who now find themselves needing help but unable to afford a stairlift or obtain a funding grant. It is those people we feel are deserving of our help now.”

Visiting EMS Stairlifts for the first time, Oliver Heald, MP, remarked, “I was impressed that Baldock has the country’s major showroom for fully operational stairlifts. This is a huge advantage for customers and I spoke to one of my constituents who was very pleased to see and try the stairlifts in action.”

This constituent was Veronica Lee from Hertford, who, along with her son Chris, certainly got more than they bargained for during their visit to the showroom last week.

After visiting the EMS Stairlifts website Chris had brought his mother over to the Baldock showroom and was delighted to discover it was the best, if not the only, place to try a large number of fully working stairlifts.

However, neither of them was expecting a personal welcome from their local MP and an opportunity to discuss one or two constituency matters in addition to choosing a stairlift.

Picture shows Mick Armstrong, Thomas Sergeant and Jonathan Muir of EMS Stairlifts.                                                                Front: Veronica Lee and Oliver Heald MP

Cancer Survivors' event to be held in London


 Monday, March 26th 2012

 Kensington and Chelsea Town Hall, Small Hall

 3 – 7 pm

 Cancer Survivors often speak of feeling  ‘abandoned’ once they leave hospital.  This Event aims to show survivors that there are organisations, services and people out there willing and ready to offer help and advice’  improving quality and wellbeing of life for survivors after cancer.

This is a FUN event with a serious purpose – to show cancer survivors, carers, nurses, medical staff, doctors etc. just what is available in the Borough.

Local Companies have donated spot prizes and raffle prizes ~

first was Chelsea FC Foundation with a football signed by their players


Stalls on :

–       Rare Cancers         Prostate Cancer     Breast Cancer         Cancer Support centres

       Free Prescription information stall     Financial advisory stalls  –   Welfare Benefits department (DWP)

–       Citizens advice bureau            Macmillan               Cancer champions

–       Advocacy advisory groups (e.g. Age concern, Advice now, RBKC, Welfare directory)

–       Travel Insurance           Skin care products          Cook and taste demonstration session- Nutritionist

–       Reflexology         Equipment specialist          Lingerie           Health trainer and exercise advice

 –       Medical Tattoos. Wigs  – and more.    (Warning – due to other commitments if a stall can’t participate, we have others to take their pla

Organisers:  Verite Reily Collins,   Paula Murphy, Ijeoma Igwama, Gaenor Holland Williams

Information : or

English: Kenneth Ferrie's golfbag, detail: Flo...

Daffoidils spell Spring Wikipedia

Or contact; Ijeoma Igwume at


0208 969 4852


Or :  Verite Reily Collins 020 7351 4434









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Tut Tut – things are hotting up around the Health Bill





One way and another it’s been a pretty miserable start to the year.

Dave the Dormouse upset the nurses.

Now, somebody should tell him that whatever you think, you never criticise nurses out loud.  It isn’t polite.  What’s more, it’s political suicide.  Remember, the NHS is the biggest employer in Britain; so that’s a lot of votes.

The Mad Hatter (aka La La) wasn’t much help either – he flapped around behind the scenes, tripping over his health bill, and trying to avoid the angry nurses who turned up with bedpans outside his home  (aka known as Richmond Towers) for the end of Bevan’s March.

If you want to know what’s happening to this Health Bill,  try to contact  the Future Fandango (a.k.a  Steve Field’s Future Forum set up by Dave to deflect criticism);  you can’t.  He seems to have been taught at the same school as Dave and La La – and  has no manners either.  i.e neither he nor his ‘team’ bothers to answer questions from patients (they obviously aren’t important in the Health Bill scheme of things). calls the Bill  ‘the Future Fandango’s second phase report’ and says it deals, in part, with integration and was a re-run of the Nuff-King’s report of the previous week.  The Mad Hatter has proudly come up with  gems such as :

“Providers need to be able to work with each other to improve care”. 

Now I know why I don’t get the right care – no-one’s working with each other.

And…. “the NHS needs a decent IT system to share data”.

What a flash of genius!  Obviously came out of deliberations around the Tea Table (a.k.a Cabinet meeting).

Field is proving a worthy guest at the Tea Party, as his seventy-strong army (there are two pages of pictures of them all at the beginning of the Future Fandango report) proceeded to upset all the clinicians by telling them to

‘make every ‘contact count’.

Actually someone has sussed out that all those ‘meetings’ they are in whenever you phone, actually don’t say anything at all – so now they must be made to count!  Otherwise nasty journalists will use Freedom of Information Act to ask intrusive  questions such as “what has been discussed?”  (Mad Hatter is apparently scrabbling around trying to use fading ink to write up minutes).

And of course, doctors will have plenty of time (if they look up from their computer keyboard) to make contacts with patients count, and take some of their ten minute appointment time to lecture them about healthy eating. You go in to talk to your GP about nausea from your drugs, and you are given a chat about how important it is to eat healthily.  Not much use, when the only thing you can eat at the tea table seems to be scones – but you can keep these down so that could be why they are provided.

There’s stuff about the governance of LETBs and HEE.  Yet more NHS-speak.  And talking of NHS-soeak, do you know that those trendy GP surgeries now call Receptionists?

  ‘Navigators‘!   No, I can’t see sense in name-change either.  But they sure as anything are annoying the hxxl out of those who went to the USA to take the medical qualification to be a Navigator (and it’s not do with reception – rather how to help patients negotiate the cancer treatment minefield).

Field’s report mentions ‘education‘.  Didn’t someone called Blair put his foot in it by repeating this word?  So does this mean nurses being taught how to give a blanket bath?  Or that you have to bend down and push a cloth – it won’t clean up sick  on its own?

Or does it mean nurses will be taught how to place the right tick in the righ boxes, so journalists like me can’t go through reports and find holes.

If I were working for the Care Quality Commission, I would use my employer’s time to send round CVs to recruitment agencies.  The government has pledged that  patient experience of integrated care will be measured as part of the Outcomes Framework.   All part of the CQC’s remit.  So as they have been given something specific to do – must mean they are about to be made redundant.

Future Forum hides down a hole

Set up by Dave the Dormouse to deflect anger over Health Bill,  Steve Field and his Future Forum seem to have disappeared down the White Rabbit’s hole.

Key in NHS Future Forum into Google, and up come pages of articles by eminent journalists,  pointing out where La La and the rest of Wonderland have gone wrong.  But the actual website has done a disappearing act.  Probably down at No. 1,000,000 where it belongs.  No wonder I am still waiting six months after sending in a question.

So following Alice’s example, I start to ask questions.  The DH Press Office isn’t too happy, and does their usual “give me your question and we will reply” (this can take three months).  I insist.  Finally am given a very long web address to take me to the Future Forum site.

Of course that doesn’t work, but I cobble together info and come up with

Then in Search window write in Future Forum.  It’s works – but can’t say I am any the wiser.

DH are so overworked they are using our money to hire Freud Communications (run by Murdoch’s son-in-law).  So I go on their website to find out what’s happening in La La land, only to find they are so secretive they don’t post a single contact’s email address.

Alice – we need you to ask questions!   But you are going to need an appointment with the doctor to deal with massive headaches once the Tea Party is over.



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