NEW YEAR’S WISHES
Well, here we are at Christmas time once again with Covid-19 and it’s new variant, Omicron, still threatening us. Most of us have now had our first two jabs and many have also had their booster, but still the numbers of those infected goes up and we have been warned to limit our contact with other people and this just at the time of year when we desperately want to socialise with our families and friends. Our 2020 winter celebrations were restricted by Covid and now here we go again!!
Like many people, I made our Christmas cake some time ago, and our freezer is full of food ready for visitors who we will not now see. It is very disappointing and I think we are all feeling very frustrated and fed up with the whole situation!!
There are many knock-on effects of the Coronavirus pandemic such as not easily being able to travel abroad and many of us taking “staycations” in the UK. This led to enormous traffic jams on the motorways as so many people tried to get to the coast.
Another frustration is not always being able to see a GP at the surgery when we want to and sometimes finding new appointment systems difficult to navigate. The waiting times for hospital appointments are long and results of scans and tests are taking longer than they should to come through. However, it is a disservice to all NHS staff to forget that they are human too and doing the best they can under what are still difficult circumstances. Just like the rest of us, they are tired, have medical problems themselves and are just as susceptible to Covid and stress as are the rest of us! Clinics are often under-staffed and waiting times can be long but here in Oxfordshire we are a lot better off than in many other parts of the country. Brexit has not helped when many nurses and other medical staff from Europe have gone back to the EU.
At Cropredy Surgery, we all miss Dr Tucker, but patients like me will all find the others in the clinical team are also very good practitioners, pleasant, knowledgeable and helpful to deal with, and you can always speak to one of them when you need help. The receptionists do their best to channel us to the right person in a timely and efficient manner so that if a nurse or a pharmacist can assist, then it leaves time for one of the doctors to speak to another patient. This is what the phone message about “trained care navigators” is all about. We just need to get used to the system working this way and if needs be, we can still see a doctor face-to-face (or should I say mask-to-mask) after talking to them on the phone.
Collecting a prescription recently, I could not help but overhear a chap giving the receptionist a good dressing down because he had not received a phone call to tell him the results of his recent blood test. She patiently explained that if there had been a problem, one of the doctors would definitely have followed up but added that if he was worried, he could have rung the Surgery himself or looked at his online patient access account which gives a lot of helpful information including test results. (Speak to a Receptionist about setting this up). There are likewise various other criticisms being bandied about at the moment - some fair but others almost looking for something to moan about!
Last year we were outside on Thursday evenings clapping and banging saucepans to say thank you to the NHS, to show our gratitude to them for everything that they had to cope with because of Covid. Can we not continue to appreciate how well they are all working to look after us?
So my New Year wishes (apart from wishing that Covid would take a hike as we all do) are that we need to find a little patience and tolerance in ourselves as we head into the new year. The old adage of ‘do as you would be done by’ springs to mind and we must all try to remember that before we speak or complain. Once the wheels of the new system at the surgery are properly oiled and we are all used to the procedures, it will run as smoothly and as efficiently as it ever has done. Until then, if something doesn’t go the way you would wish, just try to remember the time when something you did was met with displeasure by others - your understanding will be much appreciated.
In the meantime, I wish that you have the best winter that you can, and that 2022 will treat us all kindly.
Seasonal best wishes to you all.
Hasn’t it been lovely to see the sunshine recently, even though we are not quite done with winter yet? I expect that like me, you have been outside and enjoying the spring flowers and blossom - displays of daffodils, tulips, magnolias and flowering trees, as well as bluebells all looking wonderful this spring.
We, like the flowers, love to tip our heads back to feel the warmth of the sun on our faces but a word of warning! It may only be April but the sunshine can still be strong at this time of year in terms of UVA and UVB rays and we should all protect our skin even though we are a couple of months from summer! Dermatologists advise us to use at least Factor 30 sunscreen on all exposed areas, and a higher SPF on children. We also need to know that thin materials and the open weave in straw hats can let the sunshine through as well as car windows. Climate change is making this even more important as our weather becomes more extreme.
I know, you have heard it all before! You might say that you have darker skin so you won’t burn, and anyway, if you do get skin cancer, it can soon be chopped out - job done! From personal experience and that of several friends I can tell you quite equivocally that it is NOT as easy as that!
I could name you three friends of mine who, much to their horror have had skin cancer on their faces and needed to have plastic surgery. Fortunately their surgeons have done wonderful jobs with only minimal scarring but not everyone is that lucky! Marks on your face are fairly easy to keep an eye on but what about your back and your legs? Do you ever check your moles or ask a family member to give you a look-over for ‘funny moles’ or ones which change shape or size?
Legs are a very common place for females to get melanomas, while for men it is backs and, of course, follicly challenged gents should be careful of their heads. (Boots sell a very good, non-greasy spray for heads if preferable to a hat.) Dermatology departments everywhere are becoming more and more busy treating folk with cancer of one kind or another.
‘Just’ chopping the cancer out translates into a minor operation to remove the suspicious area for biopsy but if malignancy is found, a larger area of flesh needs to be removed with perhaps as much as a 3 cm margin from around the original incision - around the sides and also down into flesh! Monitoring with regular trips to Dermatology for review then continues for 5 years.
But that might not be the end! Melanoma is a very aggressive form of cancer and it is not unheard of for it to reappear many years later in a different place - it only takes one remaining cell and a time when the immune system is low for it to pop up again. Then it is a race against time before the malignant cells find their way into the main organs of the body. And, just in case you may think that new cancer treatments can surely sort this out .......... chemotherapy does not work on melanomas! The new treatment option is immunotherapy for up to 2 years (given like chemotherapy but kick starts your own immune system to deal with cancer cells) but ........ this only has a 40% success rate!
PLEASE REMEMBER where skin cancer is concerned - EARLY DETECTION IS KEY but PROTECTION IS BETTER!
Of course, a little sunshine tops up our vitamin D and we all feel we look better for having a tan but beware sunbeds and tanning lamps which have also now been proven to be dangerous for our skin, particularly for the under 30 age group. There is a campaign at present to have them banned! Better by far to use self-tanning creams and lotions - you just have to find the ones which don’t smell peculiar!!
I will leave you with the tale of a small, middle aged woman who was so addicted to having a suntan that every afternoon (when it wasn’t freezing cold or raining) she could be found in a south coast car park lying on the shelf under the windscreen of her car in a bikini. She was a mahogany colour but so deeply wrinkled that she looked about 100! She was an object of ridicule but that was in the days when sun screen and self tanning creams had not been invented and we all used olive oil to ‘enhance’ our tans! Science has brought us a long way since then and we ignore its findings at our peril!
With two Bank Holidays coming up, I think we are all hoping for some more good weather to coax us outside to enjoy our gardens and countryside. Just don’t get burnt!
Best wishes to you all,