Saturday, 11 November 2017

Sylvia, Hemp Oil Balm and the NHS - The Final Part


It is with a heavy heart that I have to inform you all that Sylvia Veronica Snape, aged 95 years, passed away, peacefully on Tuesday 7th November. RIP. We will celebrate her life and she will be laid to rest with her father and her brother on Tuesday 21st November. Service 10am at St Mary's Church in Chorley. All welcome.

James, her son, had been caring for Sylvia at home with support from Lancashire County Social Care Services and the District nurses. Whilst Jim was grateful for this support he was still extremely frustrated that they still refused to let him take any part in the treatment of her arm.

Between the two of us we had managed to get her eating again and she was slowly putting on weight but caring for her was taking a heavy toll on Jim's physical and mental well-being and the Social Worker had suggested that Sylvia be placed in respite care, temporarily, to give him time to recuperate. It was a difficult decision for him to make as he had always promised her that he would never put her into a nursing home, but he eventually agreed that it would be for the best and arrangements were made for her to go into a home for a period of one month.(Read Part 4 here)

She went into the nursing home on Monday 23rd October. During the first week, despite being very weak and totally dependent, she was eating well and everything seemed to be going to plan. At the beginning of the second week the home's doctor telephoned to discuss her medication and suggested that she was in a lot of pain and that he was considering increasing the dosage of the pain medication patches from 10mg to 12mg. We explained that when on higher doses of medication, Sylvia's cognitive abilities were significantly reduced and he agreed to monitor her closely.

At the end of week two, we were advised that she had stopped eating and that she was staying in bed instead of getting up. We went to the nursing home to visit her on Monday 6th November and it was obvious that she was on the increased pain patch and we were advised that she was also on morphine as her pain had increased to an intolerable level. She was very agitated and unable to communicate but managed to tell Jim that she loved him. Jim suggested to the nursing staff that the reason she had stopped eating was probably because she was on high doses of medication due to the pain in her arm caused by the extremely tight dressing on it, but they said that, in their opinion, it was best to keep her on it. They advised us that she was at the end of life stage and would probably die within a few days. Jim was devastated! We called her family members in so that they could say their goodbyes.

On the Tuesday wes received a call from the nursing home suggesting that we go over quickly because her condition had deteriorated. She was very still and appeared to be quite peaceful but it seemed that she didn't know we were there. Jim spent over an hour holding her and talking to her and then she suddenly smiled and shortly afterwards she took her last breath.

She is now resting in the funeral home and we are making the necessary arrangements, amongst which was to pick up the medical notice for the death cert. It stated that she had died from the sarcoma on her arm – not natural causes, which seems a bit strange when the hosptial consultant had reassured us all that the cancer would not kill her. Old age, probably, but not the cancer!

What killed Sylvia, in our opinion, was the unwarranted interference from the local GP surgery, the unnecessary intervention of the Social Sevices “Safeguarding” Team, her lack of proper “care” whilst in hospital and finally, an overdose of pain medication in her final days!

Yes, there is no doubt that Sylvia wanted to die and had desired this since fist being diagnosed with the cancer five years ago. She is now out of pain and with her God in Heaven which is what, as a devout Roman Catholic, she truly believed in.

But please, let this be an alarm call to all of us. Hemp oil is a legal and highly effective nutritional supplement and it should be recognised as such by the Government and the NHS. The only reason it is not is because of money and profits.

More research needs to be done into its use as a medicine to ascertain correct dosage levels for specific illnesses but in honour of his Mum, Jim has vowed to take up the mantle and fight for the human rights of people like Sylvia to be treated with this amazing plant and to disseminate the knowledge of its healing properties.

Hemp, as a natural medicinal alternative to drugs, could save the NHS millions and also save lives!

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Hemp Seed OIL Balm - NHS Says No and Goes Into Meltdown - Part 4

In September, I wrote about Sylvia, a 95 year old with mild dementia and a rare muscle cancer on her arm. At that point, she had effectively been bed-blocking in hospital for 10 weeks and during that time her general state of health had drastically deteriorated. You can read all about it here.

After 12 weeks she was finally allowed to go home. It was agreed with the hospital that they would arrange transport for her. The Social Services had a Care Plan in place which was due to start at 5pm on the same day. We rang the hospital and were assured that she would be coming home but probably not until after 6pm. Her son, Jim, rang the carers to cancel the 5pm visit and was informed that they had been told that she would not be coming home until the following day!

Less than 5 minutes after ringing off, Jim received a phone call from the Patient Transport Ambulance driver saying that he had Sylvia on board and where should he go to drop her off! She eventually arrived home, in her hospital gown and two large plastic bags full of her belongings and prescribed medication and dressings for her arm. The hospital staff hadn't even bothered to dress her, even though we had left clean clothes with them for this purpose!

Whilst Jim was relieved to have finally got his mother home it soon become apparent just how far his mum had regressed whilst in hospital. She was unable to walk unaided, she was refusing to eat and very confused, thinking that she was still in hospital. She kept saying "I'll be glad when I get home".
Sylvia used to be very independent and physically fit for a 95 year old. Now, she couldn't even use the toilet without assistance. Her time in the "care" of the NHS had reduced her to an empty shell of a woman.

She had been prescribed health drinks by the hospital and at first it was a struggle to get her to drink them but slowly she started to improve and then we managed to persuade her to eat tiny amounts of baby food as well. As I write, some two months later, she can now eat softened "adult" food and continues to improve.

However, she is still extremely frail and completely dependent on Jim for all her daily needs. She still has the cancer on her arm and this is causing her a great amount of pain and distress. The arm is being dressed every other day by the district nurses and she has just gone into a nursing home to give Jim, who is 70, a much needed break.

He feels guilty about this but realises that, as his mother's main carer, he needs to care for himself as well. He was completely worn out after two months of non-stop 24 hour caring. The social services care package allows for up to three visits daily but he resented the intrusion and dropped this to just one visit a day to help get his mum up and out of bed. The rest, he says, he can do himself.

We don't know what the next step will be. Sylvia is in the care home for at least another three weeks and it may be that she will remain there, but only if she is happy to stay. Jim would rather have her at home, but, as an outsider looking in, I don't think he could cope in the long term - it is quite simply too exhausting for him.

He has made his feelings known to his GP practice and blames them for all of this situation. They have verbally apologised and stated that they felt putting her in hospital was for the best, at the time. They acknowledge now that they made a very big mistake and should never have stepped in. All they succeeded in doing was to hasten this poor old lady's end of life process and stolen the loving mother/son relationship that Jim and Sylvia had for the best part of 17 years sharing a home together.

My own feelings are still very much that there is a hidden agenda within the NHS to simply cast aside and "get rid of" old people. They believe that they are too much of a burden to maintain. Isn't it time to change this and put it right? (Final part here)

Please feel free to comment below.



Tuesday, 26 September 2017

WASPI: Labour Party Listening..but Not Hearing!

The recent announcement at the Labour Party Conference has gone down like a lead balloon with many of the WASPI ladies – and rightly so!

That's not to say that we don't appreciated the fact that at least someone is listening to our voices..all of them are agreed that something must be done, but to offer SOME of us the “opportunity” to take a reduced pension (for life!) from age 64 quite simply DOES NOT address the issues.

There will be a number of women, most of whom are living in dire circumstances and dependent on their relatives and food banks to make ends meet who will be sorely tempted to seize this with both hands if Labour get into government, whenever that may be. To do so would be to condemn themselves to a life of poverty and misery for an average of 22 years. They will simply not have enough to live on and many, I'm afraid, will not survive.

When we spoke with Jeremy Corbyn at a recent event in Cleveleys he appeared to be listening to us and took copious notes during our conversations, assuring us that the Labour Party would redress the balance and put right the wrongs of the Tories. Pension Credit from age 60 would go a long way to resolve our problems and I am sure thst many more women would be happy to settle for that.

However, the aims of the WASPI Campaign are to secure “fair transitional pension arrangements for ALL women affected by the rises in State Pension Age”.

The only acceptable solution, in my opinion, is Pension Credit, backdated to age 60 and compensation for all losses sustained in the meantime. The Tories are intending to steal up to £48,000 off every WASPI over the next few years and the Labour Party's offer of a pension from age 64 is a slap in the face for all of us.

Jeremy, please check your notebook and show us that you were not only listening to us...but that you were actually HEARING us! For the MANY, NOT the few!

Friday, 15 September 2017

Hemp Seed OIL Balm - NHS Says No and Goes Into Meltdown - Part 3

The saga continued...(Read Part 2 here)

Sylvia was moved into the Rehabilitation Ward at Royal Preston Hospital and we were hoping that she would soon be on her way home, but it was not to be. At this point she had already been in hospital for over three weeks and had contracted an infection for which she was put on oral antibiotics.

Despite a visit from the District Nurse and the Social Worker, it was clear that she would not be discharged until she was deemed to be fully fit. Having finally finished the course of antibiotics, Sylvia was then diagnosed with shingles and promptly moved, yet again, into a side ward because the infection can be highly contagious. She remained there for a further two weeks. During that time, because her hand was severely swollen due to excessive bandaging of the arm the staff were advised to elevate the arm in a suspended sling. One evening when we visited, the sling was hanging off her arm and the nurse, a Staff Nurse, admitted that she didn't know how to use it! If was left to me to show her how to fit it - she had been trying to use it upside down!

As it was by now becoming very expensive making the trip to and from Preston to Chorley every day, we were informed that there was a bed available at Chorley Hospital and that she would be moved there on the Friday evening. We asked Preston Hospital to ask Chorley Hospital to notify us as soon as she arrived there so that we could visit her there. By 8pm at night we had still not heard anything so I
rang the ward and was told that she had not yet arrived, but they would ring us as soon as she did. We never got the phone call, so that night Sylvia did not see anyone from her family.

The following day we went to visit her at Chorley and she was confused and disorientated but, having had personal experience of the ward she was on, (my father was there for 10 weeks and very well cared for), I felt that the care she would receive would be be of a better quality than at Preston.We managed to speak to the doctors who assured us that he wanted to be in a position to discharge her as quickly as possible in order to free up the bed and that as soon as he had run a few tests on her he would be happy to let her go home, so long as the care plan was in place.

In week six, a couple of days after being admitted to Chorley, for reasons unknown, Sylvia was again moved, this time into another side ward. We were told that it was because she didn't like the bright lights on the main ward. This has been an ongoing problem, partly due to her poor eyesight but it is also a symptom of dementia which appeared to be getting worse by the day. She had difficulty recognising her grandson and granddaughter and was insisting that she was eating her meals when it was plainly obvious that she was not. When she was weighed a few days later she had dropped from 6.5 stones to 5.5! When asked why there was no help with her feeding the response was that they would do so if she asked for it! As if......!

In week eight when we called to visit on the Saturday afternoon we were horrified to find her laying in her bed in the hospital corridor. She had been there for over an hour before she was moved again into the main ward, this time because they needed the side room for a more seriously ill patient. Less than a day later she had to be moved into yet another side ward because she had the runs and they needed to be sure that she wasn't infectious. As it turned out, she wasn't infectious but she spent a further two weeks in this isolation ward, completely alone, with the door closed most of the time. It was quite obvious that this was having an adverse effect on her mental health as she became more and more confused and her weight continued to drop because she was incapable of feeding herself and. more to the point, incapable of asking for help to do so!

In week 10, she was finally moved back onto the main ward, bright lights and all, where she was given the medical all clear to go home. A multi-disciplinary team meeting was eventually held and it was agreed that she would be released from hospital on the following Thursday week. At this point her weight was only 5 stones.

It is worth mentioning at this point the almost complete lack of empathy coming from the hospital staff. Whenever we had a question or needed to have an update on Sylvia's condition we always received the same response which was "I couldn't possibly comment on that". The other observation I must make is that in spite of the large numbers of "staff" on the wards, apart from the weekends, when in many cases there were only four staff looking after up to thirty patients, whenever we approached any of them we were given the automaton-like response "I'm sorry - I don't work on this ward".

Well, if they don't work on that ward, what the hell are they doing there using the equipment and tending to patients? Its almost as if they are pre-programmed automatons with no human interactive skills whatsoever!

One evening, when we went to visit, we witnessed one of the dementia patients answering the telephone on reception! The  number of patients with dementia taking up beds and the nurses' time is quite scary. There was a female patient in Preston Hospital who could not be left alone AT ANY TIME and she needed to hold hands with a nurse whilst wandering around the ward as if she owned it because if left to her own devices she would steal other patients belongings or generally disrupt their treatment. She should NOT have been in there, but where could she go? On another occasion a male patient with dementia kept trying to walk into Sylvia's room and when asked to leave he became abusive - one of the nurses later tol us that he had kicked her on numerous occasions.Then there was the lady who came into Sylvia's room and asked if she could escape via the windows! No wonder the NHS is in meltdown - too many otherwise healthy patients taking up valuable resources that could be better used elsewhere.

In Part Four I will tell you what happened the meantime please feel free to leave your comments below........Read part four here!


Friday, 11 August 2017

Hemp Seed OIL Balm - NHS Says No and Goes Into Meltdown - Part Two

In my recent blog, Part 1 of this series, I wrote about 95 year old Sylvia, who has a rare cancer on her arm that was being successfully treated with hemp oil balm by her 70 year old son, James. He had received a visit from the Social Services and together with one of his GPs they managed to convince James to take his mother to A&E with a suspected minor stroke. You can read Part One here). This is what happened next.....

As our local A&E in Chorley is closed overnight from 6pm due to the NHS cuts we had to take Sylvia to the Royal Preston Hospital which is a 20 mile round trip from home. There she was examined thoroughly, and after 5 hours and several tests and scans later we were informed that she was medically fit but that they wanted to admit her overnight for observation and further tests. She was admitted to the EDU ward around 11pm.

The following day James received a call informing him that she had been moved to Gynaecology. When we visited her later that day she was hooked up to an intravenous drip which turned out to be saline and were informed that she was dehydrated and anaemic and that she was to be given a blood transfusion overnight. Gynaecology Ward at the Royal Preston hospital appears to be used as an overflow ward and nothing to do with having babies! Sylvia was in a ward with five other ladies of varying ages and degrees of illness. While we were there we noticed that it stated on her records, "Safeguarding from son - dressing with hemp"!

Yes - you read that right! Safeguarding from her 70 year old son, her carer for the past seven years, who has only ever had his mother's best interests at heart and whose medical intervention had been containing the damage to her arm caused by the cancer! James was devastated and when questioned about this, the staff on duty promptly told him off for looking at the notes and his questions were met with a wall of silence!

He was informed that his mother would not be released from hospital until a suitable care package was in place at home with District Nurses calling three times a week and carers coming in every day to see to her needs like washing and dressing. When he asked how long that would take he was again met with the silent wall but given the impression that it would be weeks, not days, because they were under pressure and it was not something that could be sorted out overnight.

In the meantime, Sylvia, who is almost blind, extremely deaf and suffering from mild dementia, was left to fend for herself in a hospital bed along with a ward full of strangers, being nursed by an ever-changing supply of bank staff who knew nothing about her or her case, miles away from home and her son, who felt that he knew what was best for his mother and who wanted her home just as much as she did!

In the meantime, the hospital began to dress the arm every day with twice as much bandaging as James had ever used and at the beginning of week two, we noticed that Sylvia's hand had swollen to twice its normal size. No-one on the ward had noticed this even though it was plainly obvious to anyone who happened to compare it to her other hand. We also noticed that her ankles were swollen. The diagnosis was that this was because she was in bed most of the time and not getting any exercise, which James said she would have had if she had been at home with him! It was decided to put the arm up in a sling and to elevate it. They also provided a foot stool for her to put her feet up when sat in her chair.

At this point, we were also given the opportunity to see the wound on Sylvia's arm as we were visiting her when the dressings nurse came to change her bandages. It was a horrific sight! The wound was oozing and slimy and totally unlike it had been when James was tending to it himself. It was heartbreaking to see. It was also apparent that none of the staff on the ward had ever seen anything like it and that no-one really seemed to know what they were doing. At one point Sylvia was surrounded by six different nurses, many of them trainees and of course, James, who was trying to educate them as best he could on how best to care for the arm.

The next day when we visited she was hooked up to another IV and we were told that she the wound was infected so they were giving her intravenous antibiotics which would take at least a week to work. The arm was not elevated and the footstool was not being used. James went ballistic!

In week three, after repeatedly pointing out numerous failings of basic care for his mum, including the fact that the fingers on her swollen hand were becoming rigid due to lack of exercise and, in his opinion, tight bandaging, and pointing out that his mother was rapidly losing weight due to the fact that she couldn't feed herself properly, James gave the staff an ultimatum - either they discharge his mum by the end of the week or he was taking her home himself! Sylvia by now was constantly repeating that she hated being in hospital and wanted to die. She was obviously not getting the standard of care she would possibly have had in a Geriatric Ward where her needs would be better understood.

Something must have worked because the very next day a meeting was called between James, the District Nurse and a social worker and it was agreed that everything would be put in place for her to go home, probably within days. The very next day Sylvia contracted another infection and was back on the IV antibiotics. James called for a meeting with the senior doctor who explained that as soon as Sylvia was medically fit she could go home. The course of antibiotics would take at least another five days to work.and as soon as she could be put onto oral tablets he would be able to discharge her. When we asked why the fingers on her hand were going rigid like a claw, he explained that it was because although the tendons in the arms were still functioning, there was very little muscle left to open the fingers due to the cancer. Once again, James was convinced that if she had been at home, this would not have been the case.

At the end of week three we had still not heard anything further about the care package but we did hear from the hospital that Sylvia was being moved into the Rehabilitation Ward, a positive step in our eyes. Rehab was supposed to be a stepping stone to finally going home....wasn't it?

In Part Three I will tell you what happened can read it here .


Saturday, 5 August 2017

Hemp Seed Oil Balm - NHS Says "No" and Goes Into Meltdown - Part 1

We've all heard the rhetoric that the NHS is in meltdown and many would agree that the Conservative party has failed to protect this great institution that we all depend on for emergency care, but I have recently had first-hand experience of the problems that some non-emergency wards are having in simply managing to keep functioning.

I want to share what I have seen over the last seven weeks whilst visiting an elderly friend who was admitted to hospital with nothing more than a mild case of dehydration. Eleven and a half weeks later she was still there!

Sylvia is 95 and a cancer patient. She has myosarcoma, a rare muscle cancer, on her arm that is being treated palliatively due to her age and fragility. Six months ago it was suggested by senior staff at the hospital that there was no hope of a cure and that the only effective solution would be amputation.

Considering her age and fragility is was discussed at length and decided that any operation to remove the arm would be potentially life-threatening and emotionally devastating for someone of her age and so it was simply decided to offer palliative care and keep the arm dressed on a regular basis, for what will be the rest of her life, however long that may be.

For the last six months her son, James, aged 70, has been taking his mother to his local health centre for the arm to be dressed, three times a week. However, not every week because frequently there were no available time slots at the health centre and it was not possible to book these appointments in advance. So, on the numerous occasions when Sylvia could not have an appointment at the surgery, James has taken on the responsibility of dressing her arm himself. He has all the correct sterile equipment at home - dressings packs, gloves, saline solution, bandages which have been supplied, on prescription, by his GP.

Sylvia is amazing for her age - she has never smoked and hardly ever drinks and she has kept herself physically fit by taking a regular daily walk around the block where she lives. It takes no more than 20 minutes and she doesn't have to cross the road so it is quite safe for her to do on her own.

In the meantime, James, not ready to give up on his mum's arm and feeling that anything was better than nothing, went online looking for potential treatments for his mum's arm and came up with an alternative therapy known as hemp seed oil balm. According to the website it is a perfectly legal cannabis derived product that contains no hallucinagenics but does contain canabinoids which have been shown to have some good outcomes in reducing the symptoms of certain types of cancer, arthritis, diabetes, alcoholism, schizophrenia, PTSD, MS,epilepsy and chronic pain. It is an analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, and anti-nausea treatment.

As the only other treatment was amputation or simply waiting to die, James felt there was nothing to lose and, with his mum's blessing, he purchased some of this balm and used it on her arm. It worked! The swelling on the arm was gradually reducing. He was so happy with the results that he told the family GP and everyone he came across! His GP said he couldn't recommend it but "just keep doing what you feel is best".

Three months ago, James received a visit from a representative of the Social Services who explained that they were concerned to hear that he was dressing his mum's arm himself instead of using the local surgery. James explained that he couldn't always get appointments at the surgery and proceeded to show the visitor what he was using and how he was using it.

It was then divulged that the real reason for the visit was because he was using hemp with the dressings. James explained all about the benefits of the balm and explained the therapeutical effects on his mum of using it. He also explained that it was actually helping to reduce the swelling. It was agreed that the visitor would speak to the local health centre and try to arrange for James to show them what he was doing in order to gain their approval for him to continue doing the dressings himself.

Eleven and a half weeks ago, during a routine surgery appointment for Sylvia's dressing, one of the nurses just happened to notice that one of Sylvia's pupils was enlarged. (It had in fact been enlarged for some time due to previous eye surgery). The nurse insisted on referring it to the GP who in turn decided that it could be the sign of a mini-stroke and he recommended that Sylvia be taken immediately to hospital for assessment.

And so begins the story....! Read Part Two here

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Is the Grenfell Tower Fire Linked to Tory Austerity Cuts?

No-one can have watched the terrible events unfolding in the early hours of Wednesday morning without feeling the horror of what those poor innocent families have had to endure. Our hearts go out to them and to the amazing Fire & Rescue and ambulance services for many of whom this has been the worst ever they have had to deal with.

My first impression, at 3am in the morning, was of disbelief at how fast the fire had spread and taken hold. The whole building was alight apart from a small section on one side of the lower floors. How, in this day and age of strict building regulations and health & safety rules could this happen? Where were the sprinklers, fire doors, fire retardant floors and ceilings and alternative emergency exits? Apparently, sprinklers only need to be installed in new buildings and Grenfell Towers was built in the 1970's. Surely, commonsense should have made it obvious that this could potentially have saved lives!

According to tv news reports the building had only recently undergone extensive refurbishment and cladding had been added to the exterior to improve the appearance of the building. The Independent Online reported that this rainscreen cladding may have been partly responsible for the fast spread of the fire, acting as a chimney and conduit enabling the fire to creep up the outside of the building.

A few years ago, when Theresa May's new Chief of Staff, Gavin Barwell, was housing minister, a series of damning reports had been sent to him after a coroner's investigation into the Lakanal House fire in 2009 had revealed that the cladding on the exterior of the building had not had sufficient fireproofing, and he had promised to review part B of the Building Regulations 2010, relating to fire resistance and fire risk assessments. No action was taken. WHY?

According to the website of Rydon, the contractors who installed the cladding as part of an £8.6m upgrade, the improvements were intended to "improve thermal insulation and modernise the exterior of the building". There is no mention of improving fire safety.

Dr Claire M Benson, who is a fire scientist in the Explosion & Fire Research Group at London South Bank University has outlined some areas of the fire safety recommendations included in part B of the Building Regulations 2010 Act. 
  • Limiting igniton sources
  • Limiting fire spread opportunities - so the fire should not be able to spread through a building quickly. Materials have fire ratings and should be chosen specifically to prevent this. If reports of rapid fire spread in Grenfell are correct many questions will be asked about the materials used, and air flow e.g. were there gaps between floors or in the skin causing a chimney type effect that funnelled the flames upwards?
  • Enabling warning to building users as early as possible
  • Enabling safe and timely escape

  • Allowing emergency service access into to the building to rescue occupiers and fight the fire

In addition to the above, the Grenfell Tower managers had maintained a "stay put" rule in the case of a fire meaning that many residents had stayed in their flats rather than attempting to vacate the building. 

The Grenfell Resident's Asociation had been complaining that safety concerns had been falling on “deaf ears” having stated in 2016 that a serious fire in the tower block with a catastrophic loss of life would be the only was they could bring the management company to justice. They had also complained that the fire alarms were not working properly and that there had been power surges on previous occasions. Why was nothing ever done about this?

It will probably be some time before the authorities can complete their investigation into the cause of the fire and make anyone accountable for it but in the meantime consider the following:

The Tories, many of whom own multiple properties themselves, have consistently voted down tenants’ rights in the last few years, including a bill requiring that landlords make their homes fit for habitation. In 2016, 72 of these Tory MPs voting against the measure were landlords. 

Grenfell is in the borough of Kensington, which recently took the seat off the Tories in favour of Labour. In addition, we now have 7,000 less firefighters than five years ago due to the Tories austerity cuts and as a result fire prevention visits to homes have been reduced by 25%. 

So, if anyone is to blame for this dreadful tragedy, surely the answer is glaringly obvious. Let's lay these innocent victims of austerity to rest in peace first, but then its time to speak out and say "No more! This ends NOW!!