Friday, 20 November 2015

Hospital scans, crazy benefits decisions and unsympathetic bosses

This wasn't me by the way!
I’ve seen in recent days that my post telling of my trip to the hospital back in September is currently one of the trending topics on my blog. A lot’s gone on since then, so there’s no better time than to give you all an update.

For those who don’t know I was taken into hospital last September suffering from severe chest pains. I underwent the full battery of tests, and while the doctors found no damage to my heart they found some damage to the area around my heart. They also found that I had extremely high blood pressure.

I was put on three different forms of medication, two for my blood pressure and one for my heart, and discharged from hospital the following day. I was put under the care of my GP until further tests could be carried out.

Since then I’ve been on a bit of a rollercoaster ride. Like many illnesses I’ve had my good and my bad days. The worst of theses by far were when I woke up and found blood on my pillow and my lips and tongue. My GP diagnosed me with a chest infection, brought on by my current condition, and put me on a course of antibiotics. An x-ray of my chest and lungs showed no further damage, and the drugs took care of the infection. Thankfully I have had any repeats of the oral blood-letting episodes since then.

This past Thursday I went back to the hospital for further tests. I underwent a procedure known as a coronary angiogram. It’s basically another kind of x-ray where you lie on a bed and they put you through a machine that looks like a cross between a doughnut and a Stargate. A chemical is then injected into you via a cannula so the machine can take pictures of your veins and arteries.

To be honest with you the procedure wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. There was a slight clerical error on the hospital’s part which meant that that scan took place about forty minutes later than it should have. The only real downer was a problem with my blood pressure. I was injected with a beta blocker to help slow down my heart so they could get a better scan, but the drug slowed down my blood pressure a bit too much as well, so they kept me in a bit longer until it went back to normal. Well, as normal as it is considering my current condition.

Now comes the hard part though. I’ve got to wait another seven-to-ten working days before I get the results, so I have no idea how things will turn out. I still have my good and bad days, and when I go out I feel absolutely exhausted for a day or so afterwards, so I expect that this will continue for the foreseeable future.

But perhaps the most frustrating and exhausting thing about my current situation over the past couple of months has been the way our beloved Department for Work & Pensions has treated my case. I had to claim Employment and Support allowance after my trip to the hospital, which meant that I also had to undergo a battery of inane questions at the hands of one of their experts at their assessment centre in Norwich.

Hour-long journeys on the bus really take it out of me at the moment, so when I arrived at the centre I felt like death warmed up. The examiner then asked me a ton of questions which were frankly irrelevant to my current situation, and he focused a great deal of attention on previous periods of ill health, most notably my bout with depression, which I recovered from all the way back in 2005, and the torn cartilage in my right knee, which I had operated on back in 2009.

To cut a long story short I failed their tests, and despite the fact that my GP has declared me unfit for work and told me to rest they have done the complete opposite. So I’ve been put back on Jobseeker’s Allowance and told to look for work.

To be fair the staff at the Job Centre here in Cromer have been pretty good. They advised me to appeal against the decision, which I’ve done. I am looking for work, and I’ve done a few applications, but who would give me a job, considering I’ll probably need time off for further hospital treatment?

It really is quite a mad situation, and you have to wonder just what the DWP’s thinking is sometimes, especially when they send you four letters telling you the same thing.

But now that all of that is out of the way, there is one little story I’d like to share with you.

Regular readers of my blog will know that prior to my illness, and after almost six years, I finally found a job, working as a Night Receptionist at the Cromer Country Club.

I quickly learned just how unsympathetic they were to my situation, because while I was lying in my hospital bed, scared out of my wits, not knowing what the hell was going to happen to me, my supervisor, a lovely young lady called Helen, telephoned my house three times.

At no point during these phone calls did she ask how I was doing. All she wanted to know was when I would be going back to work.

Now while I understand that she has to keep her department well-staffed, but her complete lack of compassion and understanding with regards to my health problems was shocking. She was basically telling my brother to get me back to work, no matter how ill I was.

Helen wasn’t along in showing a distinct lack of sympathy towards my illness. The company decided to release me from our verbal agreement on medical grounds, and it was during these letters and e-mails with the resort management that I found that they were just as unsympathetic as Helen. At no time did they ask me about my health, and when my release was confirmed they even sent me a questionnaire to fill out about my time with the company.

I filled the form out, and I was completely honest with them. Needless to say that they didn’t reply, and I’ve heard nothing from them since.

This is one of the examples of why I’ve preferred working for smaller businesses rather than larger ones. I always felt like I was lost in the shuffle as it were, and my experiences working for larger chains such as the McColls newsagents chain or Diamond Resorts always left me with a bitter taste in my mouth.

But that’s all in the past now. I’ve got more pressing things to worry about than a bunch of unsympathetic bosses who are more worried about their rotas being full than the health of their employees.

So to close this entry I’d like to thanks everyone who has shown me any support or concern over the past couple of months. I’m not going to name anyone in particular, but all of it is greatly appreciated.

And if anyone can think of a decent line to close this piece……