Mirror, mirror

IMG_2694The pillow’s kind of in the way, but I doze off for half an hour. My face feels squashed somehow. I wake to find I’m prodding some padding beneath my cheekbones, and have ditched the pillow. In the mirror is a harvest moon, where once was my face.

Ten years younger, lines plumped out.  People pay a fortune to look like this. I peer into the speckled glass.

Mirror mirror on the wall, whose is the fairest face of all?

I prod and note the bulges beneath my eyes and the pads filling what was once the gap between cheekbones and jaw. Ah, the jaw. There’s a chin there, but on either side hang rococo swags. A further, more generous arc of whatever this is curves and wobbles like an oedematous granny in a hammock slung between the angles of my jaw.

The whole is coloured in a spectacularly healthy-looking windburn shade of the type sported by mountaineers striding over crags. No fading Victorian maid for me then, no romantic drape of wan helplessness across a velvet chaise longue (Mum actually has one of these which I had been planning to put to good use later on).

J and A arrive; “Don’t you look well!”

Bloody steroids.

We head off for a walk down the Walkham, me wobbling slightly but feeling quite good, were it not for the nausea that keeps returning today and the Hunt headache. I wonder whether it’s related to biscuit consumption, which has, in the past couple of days, been high. I decide to avoid sugar for a bit, it’s certainly not a good idea to OD on it with steroids. But it’s so comforting.

Bun fossicks in the woodland and swims with J & A in a gorgeous, green-tinged river pool. This one features a chalybeate spring, where iron colours the otherwise palest blue-grey rocks a dramatic rusty red. I examine the spring, and the tumorous galls on a sapling rooted next to it, feeling a connection. I’d love to leap into those lush bubbles, but the chill of winter river temperatures (perhaps between 5 and 7 degrees) is hard to counter when you can’t forge through in a strong and warming way. Plus, I’d most likely have emerged looking like Adam Walker.



Buck passing

“I understand you have a problem with Derriford Hospital?”

The call is from Geoffrey Cox MP’s office. I’d though I’d been pretty clear yesterday that I have no problem whatsoever with Derriford Hospital, but this of course is the mindset of our political class. Where does the buck stop?

“No, I have no problem whatsoever with Derriford Hospital, nor with anyone else in the NHS. I have been treated amazingly from the first visit to my GP till now. I have a problem with government cuts to social care which is the prime reason that Derriford is being forced to cancel urgent neurosurgery.”

“So what would you like Mr Cox to do?”

I explain again, far more succinctly that I did yesterday, that I’d like to know Mr Cox’s thoughts on the situation with the social care crisis. I’d like to know what the government is doing to solve this crisis.

I would like to know who in government will take responsibility for the situation with the NHS and social care.

I would Mr Cox to ask Jeremy Hunt to take responsibility for the current state of the NHS, and to identify the issues and address the funding gap and the bed shortage. This is his job. I would like him to manage the situation without blaming anyone else, whether that’s trusts, or junior doctors, or nurses.

“I realise this is a political point, but it’s a key political point. My personal situation is the direct result of the failures in government health and social care policies since 2010.”

I tell the aide that I’m not doing this to queue jump, to kick up a stink about my own situation. I’m doing it for all of us waiting for urgent neurosurgery this week, and next.

I can expect a letter, the woman says.