Thursday, 21 May 2015

You View, He Views, She Views, They View - but I don't View

I've had an intense  (and tense) relationship with BT  - formerly known as British Telecommunications - recently. 

I have my phone line, broadband - which is working fine at the moment touch wood - and You View TV with them. The TV package was "sold" to me a good while ago, on a day when I had persuaded myself that £7 a month for a service which not only gives you lots of  TV channels and "Catch Up" but also has the magical ability of recording live television while you go and make a cup of tea and can play it back without you missing any of the "live" bits.

Now, I've never been a particularly logical thinker, or technological master. I mean, the remote control itself is a mystery to me apart from the on/off button. My son and son in law will tell you with glee about the time I couldn't get the television in the bedroom to work, only to be told that this was because I had the aerial plugged into the power socket of the freeview box. Pause for general mirth, here.
Maybe it's me and televisions that don't see eye to eye, but I didn't seem to have a problem when there were only 3 or 4 channels available. Perhaps it was the introduction of Channel 5 that threw me completely. 

Anyway, back to the You View box.

I've not got around to recording anything on it and don't know how to even if I did. My main viewing is the news and the only thing the service was really used for was for the grandrd
I did tell BT that on reflection I wasn't bothered about the service for £7 so they lowered it to £2 and added Sport !  I can't

Then, over the past few months the service decided to only work when it felt like it.
I've not been that bothered about watching anything on the downstairs telly of course, it's the fact that I can't  that irritates me . 
Which probably shows what a spoilt, impatient person I am.

So, for your amusement and while I await the engineer's visit between 12 and 3 today, here is the online conversation with a very nice chap from BT yesterday.

"Please cancel my You View TV and refund last 3 months payments. I am tired of it not working and have already had a replacement box. The day an engineer was booked it miraculously worked - for that day only. AJAY KHARWAR: Hello. I'm AJAY KHARWAR. Thanks for that information, I'll check it and get back to you in a moment. Brenda Gunning: ok thanks AJAY KHARWAR: Hello Brenda,  Good Morning AJAY KHARWAR:  Ok. I'll quickly go ahead and check it for you , Your issue is my Responsibility. Brenda Gunning: ok AJAY KHARWAR: Brenda, May I know what is the problem you are facing at the moment. I can try to get it fix for you. Brenda Gunning: I am sick of trying to get the same problem fixed. I spend half my life resetting the box and unplugging leads ! Brenda Gunning: I dont want it anymore. I may as well just have a Freeview box AJAY KHARWAR: I do apologise for the inconvenience caused to you. I understand even after the Engineer visit you are having the same problem. But what is happening now on your TV. Brenda Gunning: it just gets as far as "Nearly Ready"  then stays there AJAY KHARWAR: Ok. And as I can check my records even before you were having the same issue. Brenda Gunning: yep ! Brenda Gunning: I dont even use the facilities on it like record etc AJAY KHARWAR: Give me a moment Brenda, While I check what best I can do for you now. Brenda Gunning: My broadband is working fine at the moment - so please dont mess it up ! :) AJAY KHARWAR: Brenda, But did the Engineer came at your property or you have cancelled the appointment ? Brenda Gunning: I cancelled it before he came because it was working on that day !! The next day it wasn't working again AJAY KHARWAR: OK. Give me a moment. AJAY KHARWAR: Brenda, As it is not working now I can sent out an Engineer to come at your property to get it fix for you. Brenda Gunning: I told you I dont want it anymore. Waiting for engineers and talking to  BT every day is not my top priority in life ! AJAY KHARWAR: I understand your concern but to get it fix I need to sent out an Engineer Brenda Gunning: I DONT WANT IT !  I am unplugging it right now. I am not wasting anymore time waiting for engineers AJAY KHARWAR: So Brenda, What you want now me to do. Brenda Gunning: I told you at beginning.Cancel  You View and refund me lat 3 months payments AJAY KHARWAR: Brenda, It wont be possible for me to cancel the your TV Service as I'm from Technical Team. 
To get it cancel need to speak with Customer Options Team. 
If you want I can get you connected right now or else I can give you direct number
Brenda Gunning: Connect me now then please AJAY KHARWAR: OK. AJAY KHARWAR: They are not available on Chat. I need to call you and then transfer your call to that team. AJAY KHARWAR: Give me a number on which I can call you . Brenda Gunning: oh ok AJAY KHARWAR: Brenda, Now you have been connected to Customer Options Team. Please disconnected the Chat now. AJAY KHARWAR: Hello Brenda, Please let me know if you need any other help, or else I need to disconnect the Chat if I dont hear from you in next two minutes. "

The Customer Options person told me that it would cost £20 to cancel the You View and as I am only paying £2 per month for it now I might as well keep it until renewal date in 6 months time.  Ajay phoned me and arranged for another engineer to call today. 

Maybe I will be watching will You View tonight - or not :) 

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

The One Where the Mother Feels Useless

Post cycle 3 chemo - Day 6

We are half way through the chemotherapy - and when I say 'we' of course I mean Jane, who is as strong, amazing and more beautiful than ever. 
With each session of drugs so far, it seems to take longer than last time to feel normal again, though of course real "normal" won't be for a while yet. 

The drugs in the chemotherapy treatment so far are 

The side effects include risk of infection, bruising, feeling or being sick, diarrhoea, sore mouth, anaemia, loss of appetite, taste change, hair loss, sore eyes, skin changes and of course,desperate tiredness and aching bones. 
This is what I am watching my daughter suffer, and this is why I feel useless. It's past the time of trite comments of "why her and not me ?"  and wishing that I could take it from her - any parent feels this when their child is suffering. 

I follow Lisa Lynch's BlogI've read the book The C-Word and I've watched the BBC adaptation
I follow Kristen Hallenga at coppafeel and marvel at her charity work and enthusiasm.
I have read so many blogs and articles by so many brave and incredible people diagnosed and living with cancer, that anything I dare to write seems irreverent and unworthy of being read by anyone. 
Each of us experiences cancer and it's effects differently, whether we are the person diagnosed or the family and friends, I know that.
But I don't read about mother's who cry uncontrollably, have nightmares and panic attacks about not helping their child, and who run to their own ageing mother to unburden themselves of the feelings of grief, guilt and shame at the helplessness. (Added to this is the fact that my daughter has been through this with her own child years ago when he was three years old - and coped)

So, this is for those - if there are any, other than me - who aren't handling the situation of a loved one with cancer too well. Perhaps there are others who are not only feeling useless but keeping those feelings to themselves too. 
I am not able to do that, but maybe it helps someone somewhere to know they are not alone in their feelings.  

Monday, 27 April 2015

Cancer - Just "one of those things" or something more sinister ?

It happens to most of us at some point in our lives. We, or a family member or friend becomes ill and we begin to analyse our life style, desperately searching for an answer to how this could have happened and even more desperately hoping for a simple solution to the problem. There has to be an antidote to all the "bad" things that we have knowingly done to our bodies up to now and if we stop doing some things and begin doing others, all will be fine, we think. We sometimes conclude that it's "just one of those things" and we were unlucky to have this happen to us. It was no one's fault and nothing could have been done to prevent it.

Fortunately, many of us recover from the illness with no lasting side effects. Whether this was from the medical intervention we received or the changes we made in our diet and lifestyle - it is likely to be a combination of both - doesn't concern us too much. The illness that blighted our life has gone and we are thankful and relieved at that.
Unfortunately, many of us slip back into the old habits that we took such care to change. It's almost an instinctive reaction to push to the back of our minds that we ever had the illness in the first place and carry on as before.

When I had a heart attack way back in 2001 (completely unexpected, but then most things like that are) my family soon had me using skimmed milk, olive oil based margerine and every other "healthy"  food we could find. I had eaten healthily prior to this and had no history of heart disease, raised cholesterol or blood pressure, but was keen to adopt anything that would prevent my children becoming motherless too early.

Then my eldest grandson was diagnosed with Non Hodgkinson's - T Cell Lymphoma at the age of three, in 2003. What was originally thought to be a chest infection resulted in an emergency rescusitation followed by a harrowing chemotherapy course on our baby boy.
What had we fed him, washed him with, cleaned the house with or generally exposed him to, to have caused this monstrous invasion of his little body ?
We didn't find out, but we were fortunate that the treatment, though difficult, worked well. A strapping, stroppy, beautiful teenager with an "attitude" is the result, and we are immensely thankful for this.

And now his mother, my eldest daughter with breast cancer, diagnosed in March this year and onto the third round of chemotherapy this week.
Of course we were shocked at the diagnosis. Why her when she had already gone through this awful scenario with her own child ?  But that question becomes irrelevant once the initial feelings of devastation lessen and we find that there are so very many people in the same situation, even within a fairly close social circle.

The question to be asked then is - how is it that so many people are getting cancer ?
Is it that with the incredible technology and diagnostic procedures that we now have, it appears to be more prevalent to the average person who is not medically trained ?

The treatment for cancer is advancing at a very fast pace. In the 12 years since our family's experience of T Cell Lymphoma the progress and success in treatment of cancers is pretty mind blowing. What then involved lengthy stays in hospital is now, in general, day visits for targetted treatment.

I'm not producing statistics and data in this post - these can be found here -  but there are at least 34 different identified cancers, affecting all of the human body.
It should concern us all as to what is causing these cancers and how we can prevent them - if we can in fact, at all.  

The list of  "Things Which Can Cause Cancer" grows increasingly longer and the advertisements for many on the list continue to bombard us from all directions. 

Too much sun, fake tan, Coca Cola, 'diet' drinks, 'diet' anything. Microwave popcorn, canned tomatoes, canned anything - the lining of almost all canned foods are made with a chemical called bisphenol-A or BPA which has been shown to affect how genes work inside the brains of rats. 
Tomatoes apparently are particularly dangerous due to their high acidity which can cause the BPA to leak from the lining of the can into the tomatoes themselves. 
Processed meats - bacon, sausages, burgers to name but three contain numerous chemicals and preservatives, such as sodium nitrates, which make them look appealing and fresh but are well known carcinogens. Smoked meats are particularly bad as the meat picks up tar from the smoking process. Yes, thats the same deadly ingredient that cigarette smoke contains. 
Salmon - the farmed type as opposed to wild that is, are fed unnatural diets contaminated with chemicals, antibiotics and pesticides so that what we thought was a healthy food, is anything but.
Crisps. Potato chips are fried in high temperatures to make them crispy but this also causes them to make a material called acrylamide, a known carcinogen also found in cigarettes.
Vegetable oils. Oils can't be extracted naturally like butter so they are chemically removed from their source and often coloured and deodorized to look and smell good.
Processed white flour which is often bleached. Some brown flours that aren't wholemeal are dyed to the appropriate colour. 
Refined sugars, so that also means cakes, biscuits, pies, cookies, sauces, cereals.
Artificial sweeteners. 
Red meat.
Non organic fruits... and so it goes on. And this is before we even consider GMFs (genetically modified foods.)

So we try to buy organic foods, which are of course, very expensive and most of us can't afford to do that with everything. We grow our own vegetables and fruit and try to persuade our children that things are so much better like this. But it's already too late as the taste of chicken nuggets and fizzy fruit juices is seemingly implanted into their genetic make-up.

Perhaps we will come full circle soon, and return to a time when food and other basic necessities are just that - necessary and natural. Though what is "natural" anymore is beyond me and what is necessary is clearly a subjective view.
I wonder at the irony of chemicals pumped into people's bodies, to destroy cancers that may have been brought about by other chemicals ingested in the first place, knowingly or not.

To all those affected by cancer in any way, keep positive and good luck.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Jeremy Clarkson's Insult to Cancer Patients

Two days before assaulting a BBC producer, Jeremy Clarkson was told by a doctor that he might have cancer and that
being given the warning was one of the most stressful experiences of his life.  He has attempted to explain his state of mind at the time of the attack by saying 

"Two days before the “fracas”, I had been told, sternly, by my doctor that the lump on my tongue was probably cancer and that I must get it checked out immediately. But I couldn’t do that. We were in the middle of a Top Gear series. And Top Gear always came first.’
Clarkson said he had now been given the all-clear, but wrote in his column in The Sunday Times: ‘That was the most stressful day I have ever had in 27 years at the BBC.
It was beyond-belief stressful, everything was gong wrong, and then you know... there you go. But everyone has stressful days, and they manage to cope better than I had."  The Sunday Times

Well, yes. We do all have stressful days and we all have different coping strategies - and sometimes we don't seem to be coping at all. But to physically attack someone and blame it on a ( fortunately for Clarkson, clear )  medical diagnosis ? 

No. That is not a reasonable excuse or reason. To me, that is a sign of a person who believes himself to be beyond reproach because of his "celebrity status" and obviously agressiveness is second nature to him when he doesn't get what he wants, immediately.

Am I more touchy than usual about this due to my daughter's illness ? Probably, though I make no apologies for that. I have not physically assaulted anyone and have no intention of doing so, no matter how difficult it is to watch your children suffer. Many in the media spotlight have had cancer and other illnesses that they have got through graciously and inspirationally.

Grow up Clarkson. The world does not revolve around the likes of you and your ego.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Easter, Eggs and Looking for a Broody Hen

Easter  is the oldest and most important Christian feast, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day after his crucifixion, as described in the New Testament.
It is preceded by Lent, a forty-day period of fasting and penance.
Easter is a moveable feast and is celebrated on the first Sunday after the first spring full moon. In Western Christianity (including Catholic and Protestant traditions) which uses Gregorian calendar the date of Easter varies between 22 March and 25 April. Eastern Christianity uses the Julian Calendar and for this reason it celebrates Easter about two weeks later, varying between 4 April and 8 May on the Gregorian calendar.
So,if you can get your head around all that, or even if you can't, today where I am is Easter day.
As with most festivals, there are many traditions surrounding the celebration and many stories and legends around the word Easter, To some it is the celebration of Spring and of Eostre, a pagan Anglo Saxon goddess of sunrise and Spring. The direction of the sunrise is named after her.  In Norse mythology it's spelled Eostare and another Norse/Saxon or goddess is Ostara, believed to be the ancient word for Spring. 
Jews celebrate Passover (Pesach in Hebrew) the anniversary of the day they were delivered out of Egyptian bondage. It's position in the Jewish calendar also corresponds to the beginning of Spring. 
Germans who settled in Rome in the fifth century and founded the Frankish Church used the word alba, meaning white - the colour of the robes worn during the resurrection festival. Alba also meant sunrise and It's thought that when the name of the festival was translated into German, the sunrise meaning Ostern was selected.
Whatever the origins many celebrate the coming of Spring aspects, others the religious views and others just enjoy eating chocolate eggs. 
I won't be giving my grandchildren, or anyone else,  chocolate eggs though this year. I am giving real eggs from my chickens, to anyone who wants some. 

This is of course in the spirit of Easter, new life and new beginnings but it's a pity that none of my hens are feeling the urge  to be "broody", as I'd have had some real new life if they'd sit on the eggs long enough to hatch them.
(I am glossing over my first attempt at trying to hatch 7 eggs in a small incubator. 21 days of careful tending, turning, warming, humidifying and talking to these eggs produced nothing more than 7 soft boiled ones. I am blaming Cyril the cockerel, though he does his duty many, many times a day. Perhaps he has a fertility problem, but I won't embarrass him by mentioning it)
So, looks like omelette's on the menu again today in this house. I prefer it to cooked chicken these days anyway ...  ...
Whatever you are doing or eating, have a happy and peaceful Easter.