Friday, 13 August 2010

The air that you breathe...

Do you think that air quality makes a difference to TS sufferers?  You'd think the obvious answer is yes.  Yet I still meet people to this day who see my scars, they hear my coughing and wheezing and they still think it's okay to blow cigarette smoke in my face.  Quite often, you can't get through a doorway without having to first wade through a crowd of people who are happily destroying their own lungs and can't seem to resist destroying mine.  I'm not anti smoking, I don't subscribe to that bandwagon.  But I am pro breathing, so if the smoking interferes with my breathing, I get annoyed.

Even when I go to hospital now, this happens.  I go to a specialist hospital (The Royal National Throat Nose and Ear Hospital) in London.  They deal with a lot of really serious airway disease.  And you still see people outside, smoking.

My local hospital is the same.  I've actually witnessed people in PJs being wheeled outside in chairs, attached to oxygen.  They then disconnect their supply and spark up.  Now what is THAT all about?!!  There was, in fact, such a demand for smoking space (the hospital until recently operated a no smoking policy on site), that the health authority spent something like £60 000 on a smoking shelter.  Now if you ignore the arguments for and against people being allowed to smoke anyway, you should ask yourself what exactly all this money paid for?  It's basically a bus shelter and a dustbin.  What on Earth cost £60 000 out of that?  What's the bin made out of, gold?!

And while they're doing that, they're actually claiming that they don't have enough money to operate clinics and some theatres.  They cancel appointments for surgery regularly, and it isn't unusual to get three, maybe four cancelled dates before you actually get your operation.  This has happened to my brother, my mum, and also to me.  I see the pain specialist there, and despite my 'urgent' referral, I still had to wait two years for an appointment, and a further eight months for any treatment.  How long would they have made me wait if it wasn't urgent?  But I'm going off point here.  What I'm getting at, is that people in charge have their priorities wrong.  They would sooner allocate a huge amount of money for a plastic smoking shelter, than they would use the money to run more clinics or theatres.  Ridiculous.

I heard about this happening at a mental health trust in London.  They cover the smallest area of any mental health trust in England, yet they have one of the longest waiting lists (from what I understand, anyway).  There are a lot of people in real distress there who desperately need help.  Now, rather than spend some money recruiting and training more specialist mental health practitioners, this trust decided to rebrand themselves, for about the third time in five years.  Skewed priorities in action, yet again.

The only way that things like this will stop happening, is if people like you (and me) take the time to get involved in making the policy and decisions.  We need to have an input into out public health system.  There's no point moaning about it if we can't be bothered to make our views known.  I belong to two hospital trusts, and I have my input by answering the questionnaires they send me, and expressing my views.  I go to open days, when invited, and I meet and question the people in charge.  Sometimes, I go a little too far, but if you don't push the boundaries occasionally, then nothing changes.

On a lighter note, how many songs can you think of that mention air, oxygen and breathing?  So far I have:
1.  Harder to breathe (Maroon 5)
2.  The Air That You Breathe (Population 1/Nuno Bettencourt)
3.  Breathe (Kylie Minogue)
4.  Every Breath You Take (Police)

I'm trying to get to 100, lol...  Can you tell I'm bored?

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