About this Blog

This blog started as an online diary and place for me to rant about annoyances in my family.

However since July it has become a place for me to catalogue and express my views and opinions on the treatment I have recieved following the diagnosis of a potentially cancerous tumor in my bowel.

On 3rd August 2011 I was told that it was cancerous. In April 2012 I was given the all clear.

October 15th 2013 I was diagnosed with peritoneal disease and liver metastases. The cancer was back and this time it is inoperable.

It is a little bit out of date as the NHS doesn't tend to have a WiFi connection in hospital and I can only post when I get home and posts take a while to write.

It is NOT about individuals or the nursing profession. It is about some of the inadequacies in the system and the way the NHS is failing some people.

For more inane ramblings, follow me on twitter

To see my crafty loves follow me on Pinterest
Follow Me on Pinterest

Why not like my new Facebook page
http://www.facebook.com/thepoohstickqueen" data-layout="standard" data-action="like" data-show-faces="true" data-share="true">

Or follow my photographic craziness on instragram

Thursday, 27 September 2012

51 weeks on & some reflections

51 weeks ago, I knew I had cancer, that the tumour had been removed and was about to start the gruelling chemotherapy regime that consumed my life for 6 months.

But looking back and reflecting on what I went through last year has really made me reassess not only my priorities but also take a look at something else you never really think about, and that is financial provision.

When I heard that the Mumsnet Bloggers network were looking for people to blog about income protection and what's available to employees I was interested.

When I was admitted to hospital I was lucky, I wasn't working so I didn't have to ring my boss at 3am in the morning saying I won't be into work tomorrow. I didn't have to have those difficult conversations about returning to work during chemotherapy and following surgery. I, also, did not have to worry about not being paid for 3 days because generally you don't get sick pay for the first three days of any period of 'sickness'.

I have been through the 'sickness system' before. During the summer of 2007 I had a nervous breakdown and was signed off work sick for 6 months. I remember the worry then about affording things & the stress about speaking to mangers and HR and arranging doctors appointments and finally return to work interviews and phased returns and all the faff it entailed.

Sorry, I digress slightly.  I started thinking about how we would cope if it hadn't been me who had been an emergency admission to hospital but Tony. 

I don't work, so there would be no option to increase my hours to cover the loss of income we would have suffered. If Tony didn't get paid for his first three days of sickness then we would probably have lost somewhere around £450, maybe even more. 

Then there is the length of time that you receive sick pay for - most large companies only pay full pay for 6 months. Lets look at my timeline.

Initial hospital admission - 8th July 2011
Discharged from hospital - 13th July 2011
Readmitted to hospital - 18th July 2011
Abdominal Surgery - 21st July 2011
Discharged from Hospital  26th July 2011
6 weeks recovery from surgery - 1st September 2011
Chemotherapy Start date - 5th October 2011
Chemotherapy End date - 14th March 2012

That's a total of 8 months potentially only 6 months of those at full pay. So what can you do?

I asked Tony to talk to Sainsburys about what they would offer.

This is what we established he would definitely be entitled too. 

Sainsburys offer 6 months full pay, with the possibility of early retirement if there is no possibility of improvement in your long term health prospects. There is no income protection policies available & it is unclear how flexible the 6 months is. For example, in my specific case would I have been able to take one week sick for the first week after chemo and then go back to work for 2 weeks without it affecting my pay. 

I would like to see more employers considering the flexibility of the sickness benefits they offer to cancer patients & survivors. Cancer is not a finite illness. Once you have had cancer you live with the ever present fear that the cancer will return & also the side effects of chemotherapy can be cumulative so although they may be relatively mild after the first treatment, following treatments 3,4 or 5 you may be considerably worse.

So what are we doing to protect ourselves in case the worst happens. Actually, we can't afford to do anything. When we took our mortgage out and we were both working full time we were paying about £85 a month for decreasing term assurance, Critical Illness cover and Income Protection. When Isaac was born, we should have been increasing this protection and adding him in. Instead we looked at our financial position and decided we couldn't afford it so we dropped the Critical Illness Cover & Income Protection and kept our decreasing term assurance, which reduced our bill to just shy of £20 a month. 

Do I regret this? In hindsight yes, but you never think it is going to happen to you. I am proof. It happened to me and it could happen to you. Are you covered if the worst happens?

Rest assured that when I manage to secure employment, one of the first things I will be looking at is if I can get cover and what kind of cover we can get to protect our family.

I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network, a group of parent bloggers picked by Mumsnet to review products, services, events and brands. I have been asked by Mumsnet and Unum to blog about income protection. I have received a voucher for this blog post but I have editorial content and retain full editorial integrity

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

from 0 to, well only 2 actually

I promised I'd update you on the jumper saga and here it is. 

Honestly, I can't fault Ray. He has gone beyond his job description to ensure that Isaac has a jumper to start school tomorrow. 

He is a man who understands the power of social media and the mum in her living room (watching Great British Bake Off) writing about her experiences. 

I gave him about 40 minutes this morning then gave him a call. He had to call me back once he had spoken to someone and came up, not trumps, obviously I wanted logo'd jumpers for Isaac, but with a solution. 

He offered to personally deliver a sample plain jumper at some point today. 

And at approximately 17:30 today he did. I have a maroon plain sweatshirt for Isaac to wear to school tomorrow.

However in the meantime news of my plight had spread, again thanks to the power of facebook & twitter and I received a phone call from  a friend whose middle daughter goes to the same school. She had mentioned my dilemma to her next door neighbour who reached into the charity shop bag by her front door and said 'here, my daughter hardly wore it, it's now to small & I was going to send it to the charity shop. Give it to her'

As I write this I do have a tear in my eye, because I am overwhelmed by the generosity of a women I have never met who has given my son a like new school jumper.

So the jumpers, polo shirts, trousers & shoes are named. The lunch box is packed and in the fridge.

And tomorrow morning at 8.40am my eldest son will start a brand new adventure, who knows where it will take him?

Monday, 10 September 2012

Warning, May contain irrational ranting (mostly about school uniform)

This week marks what should be one of the most exciting events in Isaac's short life. On Wednesday he starts infant school.
I should be preparing by ironing/sticking/sewing on name labels and fretting about lunch boxes.
Instead I am doing battle with yourschooluniform.com.

Following parents evening back in July we were informed that we had to order the school logo'd sweatshirts/cardigans from the above mentioned website. There were non available from the school (or if there were then they were limited sizes) and the school do not run a second hand uniform shop.

I finally ordered the sweatshirts at the start of August when funds permitted. The confirmation email confirmed the sweatshirts would be delivered within 21 - 28 days. Fine, I though that still gives me a week before Isaac starts school. They'll be here in time.

So we waited, 21 days came and went. I logged onto my online account to find out that they were still in production. No problem as long as they are dispatched within 28 days they'll be here. 28 days came and a card for a parcel through the door. Oh good I thought the jumpers are here.

Imagine my disappointment (& horror) when the parcel was not school jumpers but more NCT things, which I do not need nor want & am not entirely sure why I am being sent other than being the treasurer or toddler group coordinator.

So straight away I log on and see 'In Production'. Sorry, still in production, no surely some mistake the email says delivery within 28 days this is day 30 surely there is a computer glitch.

So I trawl their website looking for a phone number - 22 minutes on hold later - while being told by the annoying american autovoice 'Your call is important, the queuing time is one minute' I get through to a real person.

No, its not a mistake my sons jumpers for his only first day at school are still being embroidered due to a delay with their supplier. 

I start off quite rationally:

  •  Why have I not been emailed to tell me there is a delay?
  • Why is there nothing on your system to tell me that there is a delay with my order
  • More importantly what are you going to do to make sure that I have a jumper for my sons first day at school?
Well, she says, It's not our fault it's the suppliers. No not really. You can email/put a message on affected accounts/make sure your paying customers know that they might not get their orders on time.

I realise that I'm not going to get anywhere here, so ask for a manager to call me back. I have worked in enough call centres & customer facing roles to know that you can't get anywhere speaking to a call centre operative you have to go to the top.

So later on Ray calls me, he is the area manager for the account. He understands, the school know about the problem and are aware children might not be in correct uniform, he will contact the warehouse and find out the exact situation with the orders. Here is his mobile number, I can call him on Monday and he'll be able to let me know what the situation will be.

So I spend a pleasant weekend. It's our 10th wedding anniversary, so we have a family meal, and a long lie in on Sunday and I prepare myself for battle on Monday.

I give him the morning to find out what is going on. I also have a look in Sainsburys to see if I could buy a plain one. This will be a problem as the school has chosen Maroon which is not stocked by Sainsburys & my stubborn streak tells me I shouldn't have to buy a plain one when I ordered my 3 logo'd ones.

Come lunch time I give him a call & voicemail, so I leave a message. Still no contact so another call and another voicemail. 

I'm getting quite cross now, come 4.30 and still no call I call him again. This time he picks up. I am not determined to be awkward, but I haven't thought to get my order number to hand, I am trying to cook tea for the children and they are playing happily on the iPad where the email is easy to access.

He isn't so friendly this time. The 'system' says that the jumpers will be dispatched early in the week. Have they been sent today I ask? No he says. Well then they are not going to be here in time then are they. 

He then brings out the 'have you spoken to the school'

Well, technically I haven't, but I'm not going to let on. I have friends who have told me that the school have no uniform to sell. It has to be bought from yourschooluniform.com

The school told us in July that they didn't hold the uniform in stock. I have no reason to believe that this would have changed. 

Then 'Have I looked into getting a plain one' Actually Ray, I have and they don't stock them & why should I have to buy another jumper when I ordered 3 from you to be delivered in time for school to start.

Then my gem & final piece

I only get to experience my sons first day at school once and you are robbing me of the chance to remember it

Really all I want is one jumper for Wednesday, I don't need all three. 

So I tell him, I want you to arrange for a jumper (don't actually mind whether it is logo'd or plain) to be couriered to me tomorrow so that Isaac has a jumper to wear to school on Wednesday.

I told him I use social media and blog and that I would be writing about this.

So loyal readers I shall let you know what happens tomorrow when I call him