Tag Archives: nhs

Adieu 2019.


Well, it’s been an eventful year, to say the least.

I’ve been doing a lot more visual arts this year, so I thought I’d do a month-by-month, blow-by-blow, pictorial representation of my year. (Lucky you.)

Actually, the reason behind it is to see if/how the images/moods have changed over the course of the year. And how that might correlate to my mental health.

As some of you know, I volunteer for an arts charity called Arc, (Arts for Recovery in the Community), which works with people with mental health issues. I am an ardent advocate of the arts as a medium to treat mental health, and wellbeing in general.

Many years ago, I visted the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and you could see the gradual decline in his mental health through his work.

Whilst I’m no Van Gogh, I am trying to see if there are any similar patterns to my own work.

Let’s have a look, shall we?

And before I forget; Have a Happy New Year and an absolutely spectacular 2020.

JANUARY

Oh dear… that’s not a good start.

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FEBRUARY

That’s a bit more positive. Birthday trip to Haworth, West Yorkshire, (home of the Brontes’), with my daughters.

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MARCH

Pros: Part of an Arc exhibition. Cons: Became homeless.

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APRIL

Ee, it’s grim up north. Charcoal sketch of an L.S. Lowry.

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MAY

“Are you sure you’re all right?”

Rehomed.

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JUNE

Think I can see a pattern emerging.

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JULY

Rehab.

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AUGUST

I guess a lot of things are obvious in hindsight.

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SEPTEMBER

The road to recovery.

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OCTOBER

Signs of improvement.

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NOVEMBER

Apart from my volunteer work at Arc, I started facilitating a Creative Writing Workshop at The Wellspring homeless charity in Stockport.

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There are always reminders.

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DECEMBER

A change of outlook.

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As you can see, it’s been a tumultuous year.

I feel very fortunate to be able to experience the last day of it. That would not have been possible were it not for the actions of my dear friend, Siobhan Costigan, over in Australia. Her, and my friends, family, NHS, Stepping Hill Hospital, Pathfinder, AA, The Wellspring and Arc have all played their part in saving my life and helping me to recover. And I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

As of 31/12/2019, I am 140 days abstinent. I feel completely blessed that I have been able to experience 140 days on Earth with my daughters, family and friends that I might not have been able to. I am truly a lucky man.

I wish you all a magnificent 2020; may the forthcoming decade bring you everything that you hope and dream for.

 

Addendum.

If you, or a loved one, are going through a difficult time, there are organisations out there who can help. Reaching out isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength that you have managed to hold on this far. And remember, if things get so bad, go to your nearest A&E dept., they will take care of you just like any other patient.

The Samaritans call 116 123

NHS call 111 or 999

Alcoholics Anonymous call 0800 917 7650

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7 Nights in Rehab


I’ve been torturing myself about whether to write this post or not.

The primary reason for not posting it centres around ‘not airing one’s dirty laundry in public’, and hurting people close to me whom I love. Whilst the main reason for writing it is that every health and art professional I’ve shown my drawings to thinks I should.

For me, what it boiled down to is whether it will have a positive impact on people or a negative one. Particularly, those people who are suffering from that terrible physical and psychological illness – alcoholism.

I went into Smithfield detox centre in July of this year for 8 days, 7 nights. The staff there were amazing. And I came out of the place fully cured of my physical addiction to alcohol. (The problem upon leaving such a facility is coping with one’s mental and emotional addiction. But that, and a quite catastrophic relapse, is for another post.)

The following are a series of drawings I made when I was there to try and capture my emotional state each day whilst going through alcohol withdrawal with the aid of librium and a few injections in the bum! They are not self-portraits as some people think, just a reflection of how I felt.

I must add that not everyone’s experiences are the same as mine. For example, some people don’t have hallucinations.

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Withdrawal #1

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Withdrawal #2

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Hallucinations

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Torpor

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Fury

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Serenity

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The Awakening

Anyway, to any readers who are, (or think they might be), suffering from alcoholism, I would highly recommend a detox, so please speak to your GP or NHS alcohol service to see about accessing one.

Also, please feel free to message me privately if there is anything you would like to ask/tell me and I’ll do my best to help. My email is: thereisnocavalry@icloud.com

As of writing, I am 98 days sober and I feel like a new person. Four months ago I didn’t think a new life was possible. I had resigned myself to my fate. But, through the incredible support of friends, family, Arc, The Wellspring, the NHS and AA, I have a brand new, positive outlook on life. And, I can honestly say that I am happy.

A huge thank you to Pathfinder Stockport; Arc Centre; The Wellspring; Smithfield Detox Centre, Manchester;  Pennine Care Trust and NHS Stockport.

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Whoa, how’d that little rascal get in here?

 

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Happy 70th Birthday NHS…


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Nye Bevan

…Thank you for bringing me into this world. And thank you for keeping me in it.

Thank you for resetting all of my broken bones. And thank you for sewing me back together.

Thank you for operating on me when I needed fixing. And thank you for sending an ambulance when I couldn’t make it there by myself.

You have saved my life and patched me up more times than I care to remember. Without you, I would surely not be here.

Most of all, thank you for bringing my two daughters into this world. Thank you for taking care of them when they were sick and for vaccinating them from deadly diseases.

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To all the nurses, doctors, GPs, clinicians, technicians, auxillary nurses, dentists, paramedics, ambulance technicians, call handlers, midwives, radiologists, cardiologists, pharmacists, oncologists, scientists, anaethetists, surgeons, psychiatrists, counsellors, psychotherapists, physicians, administrators, managers, secretaries, receptionists, cooks, housekeepers, porters, Nye Bevan, the Labour Party and all the other staff of our National Health Service who I have forgotten to mention –

Happy 70th Birthday!

And, thank you.

(Have yourself a slice of cake. But not too much. Don’t want you getting diabetes.)

 

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Mark Coffey – Fine Art Photographer


I first met fine art photographer Mark Coffey at Arc, where we both volunteer.

If you don’t know already, Arc is an amazing place. It’s a gallery and centre for creativity, learning, fun and wellbeing. You should pop along if you’re in the Stockport area. (They do a fabulous job for the community and a mean cafetiere of fresh coffee.)

He teaches photography, photoshop and design. Whilst I just potter about making a nuisance of myself.

Anyways, he’s been helping me with a little exhibition I’m putting together at the Oasis cafe at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport. We were chatting away, as you do, when he mentioned his website, so I went over and took a look. There’s some great work on it, so I thought I’d share it with the class.

Some shots are fun and frivolous, whilst others are mean and moody. And some, don’t involve alliteration at all. (But, are striking images, nonetheless.)

Depending on which images you’re looking at, they are reminiscent of Saul Leiter, Martin Parr and Fan ho.

Have a mosey on over to Mark’s website for a more detailed look at his work.
After, you can nip down to Arc for a nice cup of tea and a Tunnock’s teacake.

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Ewa Konior, Polish, artist, Arc gallery, Stockport

Hey! How did that get on here? To be fair, Mark did take it. (When I wasn’t looking!)

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An impartial guide to the 2015 election.


If you live in Blighty you’ve probably been bombarded by Party Political Broadcasts and news media about the various main players in the upcoming General Election.

Blogs are a great way to get one’s personal views across, but rather than expound my own views, I thought I’d give you lucky readers an impartial look at what these nefarious Tory miscreants have achieved thus far. (Told you it would be impartial.)

FOODBANKS

The number of people using food banks has gone from circa 40,000 under Labour in 2010 to one million under the Tories, in just five years. (This graph is about a year out of date. Figures have now surpassed one million.)

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DEBT

Our National Debt has not reduced as the Tory charlatans claim but has, in fact, tripled under the Tories.

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IMMIGRATION

Britain has one of the lowest immigrant populations in Europe. The more the merrier I say. We’re all from Africa anyway.

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Foreigners living in the UK

Foreigners living in the UK

BENEFITS

I’m sick to death of that maleficent rapscallion, Iain Duncan Smith referring to people on benefits as scroungers.

Benefit cheats account for £2 billion whilst tax avoiders account for £32 billion.

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And let’s not forget, for most people claiming benefits, they are just claiming back a fraction of what they have put into it in the first place.

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LABOUR AND BIG BUSINESS

Read ’em and weep.

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THE GREAT DEPRESSION

The current economic catastrophe was not caused by the last Labour government. It was caused by the banks. Admittedly, Labour deregulated the banks more than they should have. But financial deregulation began in 1986 under, guess who… Thatcher.

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THE NHS

Don’t get me started… 70% of NHS contracts have been awarded to private sector companies since 2013. (Most of them with connections to ConDem politicians.)

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EDUCATION

Did you know, as part of the government curriculum, primary school kids do maths every day but art only once every two weeks?

Obviously, there’s no value in the arts.

No value in creativity.

No value in imagination.

No value in self-expression.

And there’s certainly no maths in art… no fractals, no Fibonacci sequence, no Golden Ratio, no geometry, no equations, no dimensions, no fractions, no angles or shapes…

That’s not a criticism of my daughters’ school, in fact, it recently got an outstanding from OFSTED, it’s merely a criticism of the curriculum handed down by the government.

I’d also have free tertiary education for all too. (Something which Labour have not put in their manifesto.)

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So, dear readers, as you can see, I have no personal axe to grind and have been as unbiased as I possibly can.

To recap:

Under the coalition the economy has stagnated,

the national debt has tripled,

the NHS is in meltdown,

1 million people rely on food banks,

3.5 million children live in poverty (that’s a staggering third of all children in the UK),

The Tories believe the people who should pay for our country’s debts are the poor rather than their rich benefactors to whom they give tax breaks and government contracts.

All-in-all, a successful term of office, don’t you think?

All you can do is evaluate the facts laid before you and then decide who to vote for. After all, that’s why we live in a democracy.

Just remember, a vote for the Tories is a vote for the Dark Lord. And a vote for UKIP is a vote for the Dark Lord’s imbecile sibling with xenophobic tendencies.

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I must give a shout-out to a few blogs from where I’ve filched most of the above stats, graphs and images. Although, I can’t remember what I’ve nicked from where.

So thank you to:

Tom Pride at Pride’s Purge.

Kitty S. Jones at Politics and Insights.

David Hencke at David Hencke.

Mike Sivier at Vox Political.

Thomas G. Clark at Another Angry Voice.

The Guardian.

The Independent.

Channel 4.

 

If you see something of yours that I have not credited just drop me a line and I’ll amend the post and give you the credit you deserve.

 

 

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Democracy – #358-363


Democracy was first invented in Yorkshire, in 1954, after three blokes, on a lads’ night out in Pontefract, couldn’t decide whether to have mild or bitter with their giant Yorkshire pudding and onion gravy. Instead of settling their differences the old-fashioned way – with a black pudding fight to the death – as was custom round those parts; they decided on a new, and novel way, to solve their dilemma: They put it to a vote, and lo, democracy was borne. (2-1 to bitter, in case you were wondering.)

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Cleisthenes

Actually, democracy is attributed to Cleisthenes in Athens in about 500 B.C. (There is also some evidence that certain types of democracy existed in parts of India prior to this.)

There are loads of different types of democracy, but the two main types are: Direct Democracy358, whereby everybody who has a vote actively participates in governing. This is what Greek democracy was all about. It’s not too bad when you only have a limited number of people who can actually vote, i.e. Athenian citizens, so – no slaves, no women, no foreigners etc. It gets a bit tricky when you have 30 million potential citizens eligible to vote. That’s why Representational Democracy359 was invented, whereby we elect people to govern for us. (Sort of like we have now in the UK, except we have a Constitutional Monarchy, which isn’t a true democracy.)

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If it wasn’t for democracy, plebs like me wouldn’t have a vote. In fact, if the Tories had their way, I still wouldn’t. Which brings me on to the Labour Party360. If it wasn’t for Labour, we wouldn’t have a National Health Service to look after our citizens361 or a Welfare State362 to care for the poor and the vulnerable in society.

But… we don’t have real democracy in Britain. When you can obtain power by having less than 30% of the vote – that is not true democracy. Personally, I favour Proportional Representation363. Seems much fairer to me. Over 70% of the population didn’t vote for these nefarious Tory scoundrels. That should be testament enough.

The Tories are selling off the NHS. They’ve ostracized anyone on benefits and they’ve made a shambles of the economy by feeding the richest 1% rather than the 99% who would actually kick-start the economic recovery.

True, there are benefit fraudsters. Apparently, they cost us £1.9 billion pounds a year. How much do corporate tax fraudsters cost us? £32 billion is the answer. Go and arrest your mates, Mr. Osborne.

Here are the numbers IDS and Osborne would prefer you didn’t see:

Benefit fraud: £1.9 bn.

Unclaimed benefits: £12.3 bn.

Benefit fraud accounts for 0.7% of the total benefits budget.

Put this into context next to the £32 bn in tax evasion and avoidance.

The last time the Tories were in charge.

The last time the Tories were in charge.

The fact is, George Osborne has got the economy completely arseways. The best way to reinvigorate an economy is to make sure the people in the middle and at the bottom have some money to spend. In his wisdom, Osborne decided to give the money to the people who lost it in the first place and take it off those very people who could turn the country’s fortunes around.

That said, I’m just grumpy because I didn’t get my way. Which, I suppose, is what democracy is all about.

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Things I am grateful for #15


Stepping Hill Hospital.

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Stepping Hill Hospital, in Stockport, is my local hospital and has come in for quite a bit of stick of late due to 5 patients dying as a result of saline contaminated with insulin. I’m not going to discuss that here as it’s had its fair share of media coverage.

The NHS in general comes in for a lot of criticism. Invariably, people don’t feel compelled to write in when they have something good to say. So, the time has come to put inertia to bed.

Both of my daughters were born at Stepping Hill Hospital and the care my (ex) wife and my babies received was exceptional. For that alone, I am truly grateful.

But, I too, have had call to frequent the wards of SH as a patient having had three operations there.

The first was a cholecystectomy. (That’s having your gall bladder removed to you and me.) I recall tossing and turning on my bed at home at about 4 in the morning, letting out a low incessant groan due to a pain in the right hand side of my chest. I called NHS Direct and they promptly sent an ambulance round. I’m sure the ambulance crew were very grateful for me throwing up in their rig upon immediate entry.

Once at the hospital, an Irish doctor asked me, on a scale of 1 to 10 how much pain I was in. Being a Yorkshireman, and of sturdier stuff than most, I whimpered – 11.

This kindly Irish doctor promptly administered some morphine intravenously. Within 30 seconds I was babbling away like I’d kissed the Blarney Stone.

I was taken up to a ward and, later that day, tested for a heart attack. (Yes, you can get pain on the right hand side of the chest with a heart attack.) In the afternoon, a surgeon made an appearance and asked me a couple of questions, felt under my ribs front and back and promptly berated the junior doctor for theorizing that it might’ve been a heart attack and prognosed cholecystitis.

Suffice it to say, less than 3 months later I had it all whipped out with keyhole surgery. Top job all round, for care and treatment. I do miss that morphine though.

Next up, was for corrective surgery on a broken pinky that Trafford General made a right balls up of. I broke it whilst playing five-a-side footy. Thankfully, they have a specialist hand surgery department at Stepping Hill and they made a very tidy job of straightening my finger and enabling me to bend it once again.

Last of all, was carpal tunnel surgery. They discovered I had this while I was being treated for my broken pinky. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is when a nerve that travels through a sheath in your wrist and connects to your thumb and fingers, becomes trapped, resulting in loss of feeling in said fingers.

I was in and out in less than a brace of hours. Tidy darts all round. On the downside, my wrist was out of action for two weeks. Man, that was a long two weeks.

And, do you know what? It’s all for Free! Gawd bless the NHS.

So, a very big thank you, Stepping Hill, you are all superstars. And, for delivering my two precious babies into this world, I am eternally grateful.

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