Tuesday, February 28, 2006

I am gutted :-(

Linda Smith has died. She was truly one of the funniest people ever. When she was on News Quiz you just knew it would be a great show. I listen and laugh again and again to her singing Psycho Killer to the tune of Save my Love on Clue. She had streaks of comedy genius and I am so, so desperately sad that she has died.

She apparently had ovarian cancer which was diagnosed 3.5 years ago. It was never 'announced', though friends knew about it. Jeremy Hardy was on PM earlier, talking about Linda and he sounded devastated. Friends and online people I have told about Linda's death are all stunned, as am I.

She had an amazing talent for being funny, one which could truly actually cheer me up from dreadful states. She was clever, witty, quick, intelligent, friendly and just amazing.

Rest in Peace, Linda.

Radio comedian Linda Smith dies.
Comic Linda Smith, a regular panellist on BBC Radio 4's The News Quiz, has died of cancer at the age of 48.

The writer and broadcaster was a staple of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and BBC Radio, whose listeners voted her "Wittiest Person" in 2002.

She made frequent appearances on Just A Minute and I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue, as well as the TV shows Have I Got News For You, Room 101 and Mock the Week.

Radio 4 controller Mark Damazer said her passing was "a terrible loss".

"Linda was a Radio 4 giant," he added. "She generated an energy and warmth in every programme she ever did that made her fellow comedians and millions of listeners love her."

News Quiz regular Jeremy Hardy paid an emotional tribute, calling her "the wittiest and brightest person working on TV or radio panel games".

Linda Smith with Ian Hislop
Her many TV credits include Have I Got News For You
"It was impossible to be in her company for more than a few minutes without laughing," he continued.

"Even when she was very ill, she had her friends laughing and feeling uplifted despite our sadness.

"I am so lucky to have had such a wonderful friend."

Ms Smith, who is survived by her partner Warren Lakin, had been ill for some time and died on Monday.

A special tribute edition of the News Quiz will be broadcast on Friday at 1830 GMT, presented by her fellow panellist Andy Hamilton.

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Saturday, February 25, 2006

Self-Harm and Medical Treatment

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), in 2004 issued some guidelines on
The short-term physical and psychological management and secondary prevention of self-harm in primary and secondary care

These include instructions such as,
People who have self-harmed should be treated with the
same care, respect and privacy as any patient. In addition,
healthcare professionals should take full account of the
likely distress associated with self-harm.

If a person who has self-harmed has to wait for treatment,
he or she should be offered an environment that is safe,
supportive and minimises any distress. For many patients,
this may be a separate, quiet room with supervision and
regular contact with a named member of staff to ensure

Always treat people with care and respect.

Take full account of the likely distress associated with

Offer the choice of male or female staff for assessment and
treatment. If it is not possible to give people a choice, explain
why and write it in their notes.

Always ask the service user to explain in their own words why
they have self-harmed. Remember, when people
self-harm often, the reason for each act may be different on
each occasion; don’t assume it’s done for the same reasons.

Involve the service user in clinical decision-making and provide
information about treatment options.

Always offer necessary physical treatments even if the person
doesn’t want psychosocial or psychiatric assessment.

Always use proper anaesthesia and/or analgesia if treatment
for self-injury is painful.

Offer sedation if treatment may evoke distressing memories
of previous sexual abuse, such as when repairing harm to the
genital area.
• Don’t delay treatment because it is self-inflicted.

There is an awful lot of info in the report, but some of the pertinent points I have listed above.

I have heard endless stories of people in A&E being refused stitches to a self-injury cut, on the basis that 'You've got so many scars already, one more won't make a difference', or 'There's no point - you'll only do it again'. Similarly with people who have been refused anaesthetic before being stitched or having other painful treatments.

These situations appall me. People who have caused their own injuries deserve just as good (physical and psychological) care as those whose injuries were accidental or caused by others. People do not self-harm for no reason - it almost always occurs within a context of intense distress and desperation, and can frequently prevent the person from further harm (for example, suicide attempts) by releasing some of the pressure before it boils over.

People who need treatment for self-harm injuries are likely to be feeling dreadful, full of their own inner guilt for needing treatment, and very possibly feeling quite vulnerable. They do not need doctors or nurses or ambulance staff to reinforce their own feelings of self-hatred or to imply that they are wasting people's time.

I cannot talk for everyone who self-harms, and I also do not want to downplay the incredible sensitive and appropriate treatment offered by many medical staff. There are people who self-harm who won't relate at all to what I say, and there are doctors, nurses and ambulance staff who do brilliant work. There's no doubt about that.

However some people are treated appallingly, and this only leads to the person who has self-harmed to feel even worse about themselves, and further self-harm feels more appealing because they have had all their worst fears and feelings confirmed.

So, where am I going with this?

Well, there are cases of blatantly bad treatment (being refused stitches when they are needed, not using local anaesthetic where it normally would be used, derogatory comments by staff etc.), and these are easy to criticise. But there are also many, many occasions when someone who has self-harmed gets bad-mediocre treatment, but it is hard to know what the motivation behind the not-really-caring is.

I needed treatment the last couple of weeks for a burn. I went to a GP, who asked the Practice Nurse to dress it. The nurse's treatment was, well, lukewarm to say the least. She dressed the burn very badly - using inadequate dressings and suggested no follow-up at all. I needed to go back 2 days later because of the state of the dressing and the injury and although she dressed the injury better than the first time, it was still very careless, unnecessarily painful and there was no plan for follow-up again.

I came out of both of these encounters very upset, especially the second one. I was spinning between 'I deserve better treatment than this' and 'Why on earth should I expect decent treatment? It's my own stupid fault anyway'. On top of that, I really didn't know whether the nurse didn't treat me well because my injury was self-inflicted, or whether she was actually just quite incompetent and not very interested in general.

I still don't know the answer to that, but the following week I saw a different nurse at the practice, who dealt with my injury competently, and was actually nice to me. It made a huge difference to how I felt when I left the surgery. I didn't feel full of self-hatred, full of self-loathing, full of self-directed anger.

I have that age-old double standard. I believe, without a doubt, that people who have self-harmed deserve and require treatment which is as good as people who have injuries which were accidental or caused by someone else. However, when it's *me*, I of course don't deserve a single nice word or a dressing which actually deals adequately with the wound. I am stupid and a waste of time, though noone else is!

I really don't know if I got sub-standard treatment because the nurse wasn't up to speed on burn dressings, or on 'bedside' manner, or whether it was because she didn't want to deal with a self-inflicted injury, or didn't think it deserved time and treatment, or indeed deal with someone who could self-injure.

All I know is that I came out of the appointment with the second nurse feeling much more positive and capable and listened to. I'm no expert on dressings, but even I knew that the first two were inadequate. I came out of those appointments feeling disgusting and loathsome.

I do believe that in terms of avoiding future self-harm, feeling positive and capable and listened to is certainly a better place to start!

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This year I have grown hyacinths from bulbs. This is one of them. You can smell them all round the house and they are beautiful and amazing!

Am mainly quite stunned that I was capable of aiding the creation and blooming of such magical flowers.

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Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Ultimate Body Fascism?

I dreamt that myself and two other women - one of whom looked like Fiz off Coronation Street, the other who kind of resembled Katie Holmes - were setting up The Ultimate Diet website.

The gist was that the three of us followed a general low-fat diet, and then that readers of the site all sent in their diet tips. Each of us would follow one tip faithfully for a week, and then we could assess the tip by the weight loss / gain at the end of the week. Through doing this over a long period of time, we would develop the unfailing, indisputable Ultimate Diet.

I dread to think what exactly in the depths of my brain surfaced to concoct that particular sequence, but though it was a perfect idea in the dream, I have been worrying about the millions of possible stumbling blocks ever since waking. Not least people sending in tips like, Eat horse tails daily or stand on your head for two hours a day or even do Atkins!. *SHuDDeR*.

I don't know why I'm worrying about the consequences of being part of this site, given that, well, I'm not! It doesn't exist, and neither do the two other women I dreamt up. But it is disturbing me in that way that only a fucked-up dream can.

So instead, I say Women, enjoy your body, enjoy your weight, enjoy your food. Move, eat, taste, love. Fuck diets.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Illustration Friday: Simple.

Illustration Friday.

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Missing Dad...

My Dad should have turned 60 today. The pain of that knowledge is almost unbearable.

We should have been celebrating, I should have made him a card, I should have chosen a present, I should be calling this evening to wish him a Happy Birthday, he should be finally allowed to retire.

It feels dreadful, I've already had several uncontrollable crying fits and my whole body and mind ache for my loss of him, and his loss of life.

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Sunday, February 12, 2006

Vicious Videos, Stop the War.

Video footage has been released, showing British troops battering four young Iraqi men. It is really awful, as is the glee in the voice of the man who filmed the attacks.

Tony Blair has said,
"we take seriously any allegations of mistreatment, and those will be investigated very fully indeed."

He also said that the "overwhelming majority" of British troops stationed in Iraq behave properly, doing "a great job for our country and the wider world."

But what does that mean? When we train people to kill and maim other people, to aim bombs and guns at the Other (colour, race, religion, sex...), how can we ever be surprised when things like this happen?

Why is it ok for these soldiers to point a gun and shoot on one occasion, and not ok for them to to kick on another? Why is it ok for them to drop a bomb on a house, and not ok for them to film it and laugh?

The government needs to see that when you have an army following their orders and attacking a country, you can't then have any kind of moral superiority when events like this happen.

What these soldiers did on this video was appalling, absolutely reprehensible. But what right has Tony Blair to criticise them when he's sanctioned and ordered that they commit mass, mass murder in the same country, against the same people?

Riverbend gives a harrowing report of a raid she experienced in Baghdad a few days ago, in her relatives' house. It is terrifying, and an example of the government-approved army actions.

When you train men to kill, they may well kill. When you train them to be vicious, they may well be vicious. You can't draw some kind of imaginary line in the sand, separating the OK killings and the NOT-OK killings, or the OK acts of vicious violence and the NOT-OK acts of vicious violence.

Stop the war now!

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Saturday, February 11, 2006

Lately, I am mostly:

    Crying about:
  • Missing my Dad

  • The state of the world

  • Being in pain

    Getting pissed off at:
  • Violence every-bloody-where

  • Men running the world

  • Depression ruining things as usual

  • My new doctor being an idiot

    Bored of:
  • Being depressed

  • Weekends

  • Weekdays

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Sunday, February 05, 2006

Chilli Challenge...

Yesterday I planted 6 strawberry seedlings. This afternoon I have planted chilli, coriander, and various herb seeds, to germinate.

I am very excited - and also scared in case they all die. I have kept a houseplant alive for well over a year now (a personal record!) and not only is it still alive, it is about 10 times its original size (no exaggeration!) so I thought it was time to attempt to brave some foody plants.

If, in 6 or so months, I can eat one of my own home-grown strawberries, it will make me immensely happy! If I kill all the plants I will have lessons to learn.

I already know that I need to earn the lesson of 'balance' - like, do things gradually. Six seedlings and many types of seeds in one weekend could probably have been better done over a period of weeks. But no, the all-or-nothing parts of me are still fairly prevalent, though I'm better than I used to be.

You must see Top Ten Reasons Americans like their Cars so Big chez alas. You really, really must.

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Saturday, February 04, 2006

Book Fairy, Artist Trading Card.

Originally uploaded by incurable_hippie.
An ATC, made for the Book Fairy who sent me four amazing books yesterday.
(More of my ATCs here).

A night of insomnia meant I completed it, and learned to quill, too. It also means I feel rough, can't go to the Incapacity Benefit protest, and am in a vague daze of blurriness. Ah well.

Unfortunately for her, Z has been having similar lack-of-sleep issues. There must be something in the water.

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