Category Archives: Ranting

What Does A Slipped Disc (Herniated Disc, Prolapsed Disc) in Your Back Feel Like?

The pain of a slipped disc in your lower back is a pinching, sharp, burning kind of pain. I describe it as “high-pitched.” It’s not an ache, or a pulsing a pain, it’s more of an intermittent sharp pinch. You can tell it’s nerve irritation and not anything to do with bones or muscles. For me, the pain of a slipped disc can’t be relieved by changing position. It makes no difference if I’m lying down or standing up, the pain is just as bad, resting doesn’t make it go away. If anything, resting makes it worse. Walking and moving feels better, sitting down in a chair increases the pain.

I use a hot water bottle on my back but when the pain from the prolapsed disc is bad it doesn’t really do anything. I could use ibuprofen but I don’t want to drug myself. I don’t like using medication to dull the pain. The pain is there for a reason, and I’d much rather be treated so that the pain doesn’t arise in the first place. When a slipped disc doesn’t get better over years or decades (as in my case) what are the treatment options? I wish I knew. I wish I was under a consultant. I wish I was receiving treatment.

But of course, you can’t get anywhere near a doctor or specialist these days. GPs aren’t minded to refer anyone, and triaging means that you rarely get through to a doctor anyway. The excuse for not seeing patients and keeping them at arm’s length is coronavirus, which doesn’t make sense because there’s barely any around now and we’re all vaccinated anyway. The severe triaging that goes on at GP surgeries, ensuring patients aren’t able to see doctors face-to-face, is a national disgrace. The protracted battle to get an appointment is exhausting and stressful and must put so many people off even trying. Which is the case with me. I have three or four problematic things wrong with me that I would love to get treated but I’m not even trying to get a doctor’s appointment. It’s a waste of time. They won’t see me. It’s a telephone appointment anyway and that goes nowhere. Lets hope I don’t have cancer, like so many others, who aren’t getting seen by the medical profession. We just live in discomfort and wait for a time when GP surgeries are forced by the Government to be welcoming to patients again.

Peace of Mind

I am three weeks on from my first Covid vaccination jab. From this time forwards the protection is working. My body has learnt what to do with the virus if it gets into my system. It gives me a great feeling of confidence and security when I’m out and about. I still wear my mask and wash my hands regularly of course, but there’s the knowledge in the back of my mind that if I were unfortunate enough to contract Covid-19 again, it wouldn’t be severe and I almost certainly wouldn’t need hospital treatment. Isn’t that astonishing? The virus only came into the human population in December 2019, and 12 months later we have a highly effective, widely available vaccine. It’s truly incredible.

I wish to God that the world would work just as fast on climate change. In my mind that is an even greater disaster than Covid and we don’t seem to be doing much about it.

Trees (50 excerpt)

Today, as we walked along a river in the evening sunshine, I realised that the older I become the more fanatical I am about nature and beauty. I complain loudly every time I walk past a tree that’s been pollarded or ‘severed’ as I like to call it. It pains me to see how humans are always seemingly randomly hewing off tree branches, denuding and emasculating them, turning them from magnificent, sweeping, tangled structures into stubby, frilly amputated shapes unnatural in every way. It disgusts me. My eye longs for thick trunks to swell upwards and outwards narrowing gracefully into twisting squiggles, ever smaller and thinner until they naturally end in a leaf. Instead, we find thick trunks callously sliced off, and sprouting out of them like nasty, pathetic hair, lots of thin, leggy twigs where proud branches used to be.

“UGLY!” I’ll shout as I walk by, scowling and staring. “THAT’S THE UGLIEST THING I’VE EVER SEEN.”

My children don’t flinch in embarrassment yet, but I’m sure it won’t be long. Out of respect for them I’m trying to hold in my comments, but occasionally they blurt out, such as this evening when we came upon a once beautiful weeping willow that now looked like a human hand with five fingers, stumpy, stubbed, bare, and subjugated. No leaf or bud, no light green shoot, nothing. It looked like a dead thing. And this is spring!

I honestly can’t find enough words to express my outrage at this human interference, no doubt carried out solely for the reason of saving money, in case in the distant future an aging branch just so happened to fall on someone’s car and the owner sued the council (or whoever owns the land we walked on).

One of Those Weeks

It’s been one of those weeks. I’m plagued by migraines and battling with trying not to take too many triptans. Because OF COURSE, the medication to prevent the pain of a migraine causes severe headaches as a side effect. I mean, any other side effect in the entire world would be fine, but headaches as your punishment for trying to prevent headaches? Well that’s just stupid!

I had to have an MRI on my lower back and pelvis and my claustrophobia took over. I did warn the radiographers about the possibility I might freak out but they didn’t put me in the wide bore machine (I didn’t know there was such a thing until they told me AFTERWARDS). The tube I needed to be put into was so narrow and long that I cried and panicked and had to stop the procedure. In the end I did manage to get the scan done in entirety but it was touch and go and such a lot of drama and sweating and worry. And I got a migraine of course.

When I got home there was ANOTHER speeding fine waiting for me. I had been snapped doing 39 in a 30 on a lonely country road where they had inexplicably put up permanent average speed cameras. I had never driven that road in my life before (the satnav failed and I couldn’t see because I need glasses for the screen but no glasses for driving. It was a nightmare with the glasses going on and off every few seconds). I’m especially short of money this week, I’m not sure I even have enough to pay the rent. A speeding fine was the last thing I wanted. And I already have six points on my license.

Then I got an appointment through with the date I need to have a mole removed from my back: exactly the same day and time as my son is booked in to the dentist to get his mouth measured for braces. What can a single mother do? It’s LOCKDOWN but I can’t be in these two places at once, and changing appointments is not something you do these days. Appointments are like gold dust. If you cancel there won’t be another one for MONTHS. So I’ve had to ask my ex-husband to take our son, even though it mixes our two households. But I don’t have a choice. Single mothers rely on help from family and friends merely to get by and have a normal life.

The weather is awful. It’s dingy and GLOOMY and very windy and rainy all day long. Day light arrives reluctantly and vanishes as soon as possible. It’s 10:00 o’clock in the morning and yet we need the lights on inside the house. I need to do something to buoy me up so I might rifle through the garage to see if I have any fairy lights I can put up. Fairy lights are sparkly, cheery mood enhancers. And I’ve decided to put the Christmas tree up at the end of November. We need to do everything we can to keep our spirits up.

The Virus Has Mutated

17 million mink on farms in Denmark have been killed because a mutated version of Covid-19 has been found which could reduce the effectiveness of a future vaccine against the disease.

So because humans want to wear the fur of mink as a fashion statement, millions of animals spend short, miserable lives in prison before being murdered because humans want to protect themselves from a virus they gave themselves because of their cruelty to wild animals.

What do you call that?

One Million

One million people have now died with coronavirus across the world. This is a grim milestone – and yet it’s only the known and recorded number of infections. In reality it’s probably much higher than that. When I started writing 50 in July 2019, the virus that causes Covid hadn’t made the leap from pangolin to mankind yet. It was a different world. In December, in a town called Wuhan in China, it was first noticed that there was a strange pattern of deaths surrounding a particular wet market, and although there had already been many victims and hospitalisations the authorities were still denying there was any possibility this new virus could be transmitted between humans. The world should never forget Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist working in Wuhan Central Hospital, who alerted the authorities to a new and dangerous virus, but was told to stop spreading false rumours! He was summoned to the Public Security Bureau where he was told to sign a letter stating that he was “making false comments” and that he had “severely disturbed the social order”. Not long after, he himself caught Covid-19 and died (despite being only 33 and healthy). This shows the arrogance and ignorance of the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party. They would rather their citizens died than tolerate, or listen to, anything that sounds like a contradiction to their power. Now the entire world is severely affected thanks to Chinese cruelty to animals. Millions of people will probably die in the future. Vegetarians and vegans throughout the world can’t describe their frustration and anger. Environmental destruction, false beliefs about traditional medicine, and a total lack of compassion towards animals has caused covid-19 to exist. Human beings have to change the way they treat animals and the environment unless they want more of this in the future.

Home Schooling (50 excerpt)

Early April 2020

Question one of the first worksheet the school had sent us to was:

Write the factors of each number in the pairs: 24, 40

The problem with this question was that the children didn’t know what that meant. And neither did I. I don’t know what a factor is, or why there were pairs of numbers and not just one single number. Amy immediately got stressed and started thumping the desk and shouting that she didn’t understand. Jack, on the other hand immediately answered all the questions, wrongly, in about ten seconds flat, then stood up and loudly boasted he’d finished already, waving his paper in our faces. Amy screamed at him to shut up and go away. Confusion reigned. I looked up ‘What is a factor’ on Google, but I didn’t understand the information so couldn’t explain it to the children. Amy started crying and saying she HATED MATHS and was RUBBISH AT MATHS. Jack rubbed out all his work after I told him it was wrong (even I could tell his answers were just random numbers). His ADHD means that he’ll skim read a question and get the meaning wrong, then rush the answers which are themselves all wrong, before he realises he has to start all over again at the beginning by reading the questions properly. He doesn’t do slow and logical. He doesn’t do methodical and careful. And he doesn’t learn from his mistakes because he approaches his school work in this exact same way every single time.

At this point I decided I needed help so I phoned a friend. Lindsay very kindly attempted to explain the question to us via WhatsApp video call. I half understood, but neither of my children did. I then had another go at explaining it to them myself, expanding on Lindsay’s information (third time lucky?) but both children glazed over and interrupted saying it wasn’t making sense. I got cross and told them to keep quiet for GOD’S sake and LISTEN whilst I try to explain. In response Amy threw her pencil across the floor and shouted that she didn’t understand anything. Now I shouted for everyone to shut up and behave. Both of them again repeated how much they hate maths (even though at school Jack used to enjoy maths and do well). Everyone’s stress levels were sky high.

The twins attempted to answer the first question one more time — one crying, the other in a world of his own weirdness and confusion writing down numbers and circling random printed digits on his page (although I didn’t understand why on earth there were numbers printed in the boxes where he was supposed to be writing down the answers). After a few minutes Amy stopped struggling, tears running down her cheeks, and said she still didn’t understand it. But neither did I, so I couldn’t help her. I could only shrug. I noticed Jack was staring out of the window.

Forty-five minutes had somehow passed and it was the end of maths. I marked their ‘work,’ but when I looked at Jack’s paper I suddenly realised I’d accidentally given him the answer sheet instead of the questions. No wonder he already had numbers printed in the answer boxes, no wonder he was confused. I hadn’t noticed before because I thought those numbers were somehow part of the question. That’s how bad my understanding of maths is.

Everyone was unhappy and exhausted. If asked, we couldn’t do the same question again tomorrow because we don’t know how we got the (mostly incorrect) answers this time. How is that teaching? Amy sobbed and ran upstairs. This was the first lesson of the day. I’m simply not equipped to teach maths. I have no training, no ability, no understanding, and I can’t do it. I’m making my children worse at this subject. I never expected to have to be a maths teacher and would never set myself up to be one. I can’t do this alone without the support of school. Jack does have quite a good understanding, but I’m gradually confusing him and undermining his confidence. And with my assistance Amy is solidifying her block against it.