Sunday, 29 June 2014


An update from yesterday's post (and this is going to take some typing, as I've had a fair amount of wine - a huge thanks to my Dad). 

The Father-in-law has had a huge stroke - it has affected half his brain. He is paralysed on his right side and almost blind in that eye. We were allowed to visit him this afternoon, and he recognised us but was unable to talk. The doctors are saying he will not be able to lead a normal life again. 

The Brother-in-law was sent to a different hospital this morning, after having a fall and being unable to get up. The Husband pleaded with the doctors to give him a scan. (B-in L's doctor still insisting it is a mental health problem.) Result? He had a brain scan, had fluid on his brain and is now undergoing emergency surgery. 

We have never been part of the 'Sue them!' movement, but will definitely be making a complaint against that doctor, who set back B-in-L's treatment by a month, arguing with mental health teams and treating everyone with massive arrogance and condescension. (I apologise if this doesn't make sense, it was a very nice bottle of Shiraz...). 

It's been 'a funny sort of day' as they say. Oh, and the cat brought a rabbit home. A live, baby one, carrying it gently by the scruff of the neck, as if to say, 'Look what I found, wandering around in the field.' Hysterics and mad chasing followed, and the rabbit escaped unharmed. 

This is why I read a lot. 

Saturday, 28 June 2014

From 'Sesame Street' to 'Casualty'

Two more assignments are looming. One is the last module for my school RE course. Again, I chose an essay instead of lesson plans, as the class is concentrating on play practice, and RE and pirates don't really go together. Although... no, I don't think my tutor would go for that. Anyway, I had a list of questions to choose from. Loads appealed; I could have written pages on 'Is the world sacred?' but Pantheism and Paganism are not part of the RE curriculum, unfortunately, and I think I'd struggle to write much, having to stick to Judaism and Hinduism. So I chose 'Is there unity in diversity?', to which I shall write, 'There could be, if people were a bit more open-minded,' and include lots of quotes from Sesame Street

Okay, I wrote that paragraph a few hours ago, and since then, my life has been more Casualty than Sesame Street. The Husband got a call from someone who checks on his dad - he does a bit of shopping for him and takes him his morning paper. Apparently, my Father-in-law didn't answer the door, so he was worried. We tried phoning: no response, so we drove round there (he lives about 20 minutes away). He didn't answer, and the neighbour hadn't seen him that day, so we broke in. The Husband went first, and the relief when I heard him say, 'Hi Dad, it's only us,' (because you say that if you don't want to get shot by an ex-poacher) was huge. F-in-L was lying on the sofa, having had, we thought, a stroke. An ambulance was called and he was taken to a local hospital for assessment. (We're not allowed to see him yet, which is why I'm on here - I don't want you to think I'm that callous that I'd go home and blog about something instead of taking care of a family member.)

This caps a 'bit of a week', as The Husband calls it. His brother has a history of mental health problems, but has started wandering off and falling down a lot. Numerous doctor's appointments later, the GP is arguing with the mental health team, who say it is a neurological problem and that he needs a brain scan. The GP is arguing back that she knows best, and is refusing to refer him. Meanwhile, B-in-L is walking for miles, falling in rivers and losing his car. 

So now we are making endless phone calls and packing hospital bags. Sorry, boys, you'll be making your own teas tonight. I have emailed my RE tutor to say, despite what I said about getting my assignment done asap, actually, I won't be. 

I'm looking forward to getting back to work for a break. 

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

First aid, last resort

Ms Fab and I are now qualified first aiders. But don't call us if there's a problem, as we both managed to kill people in our exam. I killed myself, and Ms Fab killed the first aid instructor - both 'electrocuted' during an early nineteenth century train robbery, which was a bit of a puzzler. 

I have to admit I was dreading the three-day first aid course. It was held at our school, and was yet another one of those things I'd volunteered for.... Luckily, I also managed to volunteer Ms Fab for it (misery loves company and all that). I wasn't looking forward to it because I always feel such an idiot on first aid courses - there you are, bandaging non-existent wounds, breathing life into truncated plastic people and generally doing stupid things whilst others watch you to see how many mistakes you make. Thankfully, things looked up when trainees from other schools turned up. One was a woman I had done a reading course with and with whom, it turned out, I shared an aversion to infants. 'I'll help any child in any way,' she said at the course, 'but I ain't singing songs with a fuckin' toy frog on my head.' She gained instant approval from me. 

Over three days we learnt about breaks, bleeding, asthma attacks, poisoning, CPR, choking, bleeding and how men shouldn't do naked ironing (a true story from our instructor, used to illustrate (not literally) the lesson on burns). We got used to looking like idiots and regularly killed our casualties, but it was actually a hugely enjoyable course, made so by the other trainees and a particularly good instructor.

Forgot to check for danger. Dammit, 
another casualty. 

Other stuff: my RE assignment was submitted and has just been marked. The tutor said it was very good and a joy to mark, and then proceeded to tell me all the things I'd done wrong and how I should have done it. She criticised my referencing, by writing 'mostly' in the box next to: 'The student uses correct Harvard referencing.' Mostly? Mostly??! I've spent the past four year agonising over bloody references. I sent her three pages of meticulously checked references. I know I shall put a lot less effort into the next assignment, anyway. I wonder if I can put it on hold for the next decade? (Reading back through this, it becomes evident that I don't take criticism that well.) 

I also submitted my OU assignment on how the media portrays mental health. I'd been reading loads of complaints on the forum about how difficult it was to write, but I found it quite easy. So I've probably completely misinterpreted the question. Oh well, I only need 40% for a rather dodgy pass. 

And now I need to pick a focus for my second RE assignment. I think I'll just write: 'I see no point in doing this, as you so obviously hate me (Eyres, 2014)'. 

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Getting side-tracked

Why does 'using the internet for research' so easily turn into two hours of following links, checking emails, watching random videos on Youtube, ordering CDs from Amazon and being nosy on Facebook? I have found that the internet does not speed things up, it adds up to a whole lot of distraction. I know I have no willpower, so I have to bribe myself. When my assignment's handed in, I can order a new paperback, for example. I know I'm not alone in this. One girl on an OU Facebook group says she buys a huge bag of sweets when an assignment's due. Every time she completes a paragraph, she allows herself a handful of sweets. She admits that her paragraphs get very short towards the end of her essays. I read about her methods when I should have been researching Hinduism. 

 Something I found when I should have been looking
up information on religious guidance.  

I've not had any feedback on my RE assignment yet. The tutor probably has an awful lot to write and may have had several quiet moments, rocking in the corner. Meanwhile, I have started writing notes for my counselling course (on how mental health is represented in the media). Only 1500 words, I aim to get finished this week (well, I better had - it's due in next Monday). 

It's going to be a strange week at work. The class I usually work with are going to the Lake District early tomorrow morning, and Ms Fab and I have to do a three day first aid course. With a test at the end. Auntie Mo was meant to do the course, but got out of it due to a school trip with the infants. She's helping to take 30 children to the seaside on a steam train. Hopefully, she'll leave the right ones behind. Then I've got two days of supporting a member of staff who's already told me she won't need supporting, so maybe I can get some library work done, or make play props. The two oldest classes are putting on a school play next month. Thankfully, the props are fairly simple this year. In the past, we've made animal masks, a giant bird's nest, a time machine, a cardboard cow and the houses for the three pigs, amongst other things. This year, the play's about pirates, so that's fairly easily dealt with. Swords, beer barrels and fish, I think, are the main things. The cast can provide their own eye-patches and stripy t-shirts. 

Well, roll on tomorrow. Three days of first aid. With Ms Fab. I can't see that an awful lot of work is going to get done, somehow...