Why Presentation Is The Difference Between Winning And Losing (Or – How You Communicate Without Even Trying)

Here is a question for you to think about – what is the quickest way to lose your audience???

I suppose you will have a lot of different answers to that question depending on what you are trying to achieve and your personal experiences of different scenarios.

My personal bugbear is being made to think. This may sound strange when I tell you that I love thinking about all kinds of subjects. The trouble starts when I am forced to think about how I am supposed to access what you are trying to talk to me about instead of focusing on what you are actually saying.

Take this afternoon, for example. I was sitting at a table when I noticed a sheet of information. One of my “tasks” was to read the sheet so I had some idea of what someone else was going to talk to me about.

So far so good, right??? Information was on sheet of paper so it couldn’t be that difficult for me to find out what was going to be a topic of conversation. Or could it???

Let’s just say that someone found themselves being given food for thought regarding the presentation of the information. This was due to the fact that I ended up having to work out how to read it instead of actually reading it. (There was way too much information on the sheet in a font which was too small for me to read.)

In answer to the question of “what do you mean ‘work out how to read it’?” I can only explain as follows.

The information turned out to be written in the English language (this was useful). However, the layout meant that it might as well have been written in Morse Code for all the sense I could immediately make of it.

My brain was left with a puzzle. What should I do??? Should I attempt to struggle to read it in whatever way I could??? Should I ask someone else to read it and tell me the brief points contained in it??? Should I ignore it completely (after all – the little information I had been given on the topic of the sheet indicated that ignoring it would not be deleterious to my continued existence in the gene pool)??? Or should I wait for the relevant human responsible for the sheet to appear and attempt to educate them as to my difficulty in accessing the information???

I ended up doing everything on that list apart from the second option.

That second option would have been the worst thing for me to have to do. Asking for help with reading something makes me feel useless – especially because I can read reasonably well in at least two languages.

Please ensure any information you decide to present in a written format is as easy as possible for everyone to access it – even if you don’t expect someone like me to end up trying to read it. A little care with presentation goes a long way to make me feel included.

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Name And Photo ID Please

I have been thinking about identity papers which organisations might be tempted to think might be useful when it comes to – well – proving your identity.

When we are born we start appearing on paperwork. If we are born in a hospital we get our first identifying number thanks (usually) to the NHS.

Then we get the first “official” identity paper – our Birth certificate.

As we get older we end up with various documents which identify us – school records, bills, passports, driving licences, etc.

There are a couple of questions I have though.

What happens if you announce yourself as being called by one name but your papers announce you under another name???

A perfect example of this was my Mum. If she introduced herself to you she would give her name as “Coby Poultney”. If you asked to see her passport the surname “Poultney” did appear – but as “echtgenote van” (or “spouse of). Her passport was in the name of “Jacoba Hoogendoorn”. To complicate things further – if she really wanted to confuse everyone she could use her ‘full’ married name of Jacoba Poultney-Hoogendoorn. Before you ask – all three surnames are legally recognised in either the UK or The Netherlands.

(The funny thing was that I noticed a slight error she made on her last passport – she accidentally signed it as “J Poultney” instead of “J Hoogendoorn”. I am surprised the Dutch Government let her get away with that.)

The other question I have also applies to my bus pass. It is regarding the photograph.

Allow me to explain.

When I get my passport renewed I will be able to use it as an official identity document. However, even though my bus pass has been issued by Leicester City Council, I cannot use it as an official identity document. Even though the latter actually meets the “This photograph is a true and accurate representation of Ineke Caroline Poultney” criteria, which used to be one of the strictest things about passports, and I can guarantee that my passport photo will bear absolutely no resemblance to how I appear during the majority of the time when I am awake and vertical. I happen to be one of those people who look completely different without my glasses on.

I have heard reports that there are plans afoot to make voters prove their identities before they are allowed to vote in elections. Seeing as Councils are Local Government representatives – why should I have to show a passport when I have got a perfectly useful bus pass which I carry around at all times???

If I had my way the passport and the bus pass would either have equal status (as in – both would allow me to leave the country as well as travelling on Public Transport in England) or they would become the same document.

There is another slight issue which intrigued me – what happens with identical twins??? How can people be sure they have got the right photograph on the right passport form???

I have blogged before about the difficulty I have with the “remove glasses before taking passport photo” concept. (How to remove my independence very easily.)

Before we decide to force everybody to show their passport before they vote I think we should see if there is an easier and cheaper way.

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All That Scares You (Or – When You Feel Trapped In A Nightmare)

I have read two books which were very interesting in a way I wouldn’t have imagined.

One book was about a version of something I have already been through (open heart surgery) and the other book was about sleep.

I might not be the world’s biggest fan of Medical Professionals themselves but I am fascinated by the workings of the human mind and body. This means that anybody who can explain them in language I can understand finds themselves with a captivated audience of one (me).

The book on open heart surgery was gruesome in places but it did give me some ideas for future reference.

However, the book on sleep might have been a factual book but it could very well have been published in the “Horror” genre of fiction.

Sleep is the best (and cheapest) medicine available. Not only does it help our recovery but – getting enough sleep prevents all kinds of illnesses and accidents.

Which might explain why I am currently not feeling in tiptop condition. Stress is a big killer of sleep. The biggest cause of stress I have got is chasing different medications.

I know the NHS is underfunded and under pressure but I am starting to find that some links seem to be broken. (And that is before you start on the subject of patients, ambulances, hospitals, and Social Care.)

Letters between hospitals and GPs might not seem important in the scheme of things but – it really concentrates your mind when the lack of a letter from a hospital means you cannot get your medication (because your surgery refused to release the prescription without it). Luckily, in this case it wasn’t “life-critical” medication in this case.

I could go on about how my last job involved working on some very large contracts for international companies – with time-sensitive documents (and machinery) involved. If I didn’t manage to get the packing list typed up and forwarded to the correct person, for example, the company wouldn’t be paid for that stage of the contract – which sometimes meant I didn’t get paid (seriously).

Now – call me crazy if you want but – surely a human life is worth a lot more than a multi-million pound contract for a “Dockside Mobile Loader” (DML), for example??? I admit that the DML helps preserve human life by ensuring the surrounding area doesn’t get covered in dust from potentially poisonous cargo when it is transferred from a ship into a lorry. However, ports existed long before the DML was invented.

Sometimes technology can help us in ways we have never dreamt of – pulseless pumps for cases of heart failure which mean you don’t need a heart transplant, for example. However, technology can have severe adverse effects if we rely on it too much – and the results could be terminal (put it this way – would you feel very happy knowing the pilot of the aircraft you are flying in typed the wrong coordinates into the autopilot and didn’t bother to check it until it was too late???). I have never been too keen on flying but after reading the book on sleep you will have extreme difficulty getting me on a plane.

From where I am sitting we seem to be on the verge of forgetting about the very important part that personal contact (face to face or by telephone) can be in certain situations. Telephone calls between hospitals and GPs, for example, would be quicker than having to wait two months for a letter (which may only have half the information on it anyway).

People matter.

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When A Job Is Not A Job

Here is a question for you – why do you do what you do (whether or not it is a job or something else)?

I suppose a better way of asking the question might be – what motivates you?

The reason I asked that question is a combination of a book I am reading and a very unexpected compliment I received from a friend of mine yesterday.

The book is called “The Undoing Project” by Michael Lewis – it is about two Israeli researchers who came up with some very interesting theories about why we do things.

The compliment was “Ineke is the best Blogger I know”.

You could tell me I am employed as a Blogger for Simple Solutions and I would have to disagree with you. I do get paid for it but I don’t consider it to be employment (even though I have an employment contract).

If you don’t think that makes any sense whatsoever I will attempt to explain.

To me being employed by someone to do a job involves working even if you cannot stand the job you are paid to do (and/or your employer or colleagues) and are possibly feeling unable to escape.

Been there – done that! For the best part of 15 years to be exact.

I am having way too much fun to consider this to be a job. Anybody who knows me will tell you I love writing – I do it whether or not I am being paid to. In fact – I would go so far as to say I exist to write. If I am neither reading nor writing the chances are I feel seriously poorly (or I am asleep).

I can still remember going for a job interview as an administrator/secretary of some kind (the kind of job I was doing before I started blogging) and being asked what on Earth I was doing applying for the job because I was completely wrong for it. Now – before you think the interviewer was being rude about my CV – I should explain that part of the application process involved a kind of “personality questionnaire”. The results of this showed that the last thing I should choose as a career is office work. (It is a pity the Special Needs Coordinator at my last Secondary school didn’t put me through the same questionnaire – my life would have turned out a lot different if she had.) Instead I should have been employed in some kind of career involving creativity. (Basically what I had been trying to tell people myself.)

In my opinion – the best way to find the ideal career for yourself is to do something because you love doing it. Then you will view any rewards (payment or praise) you get for it as a bonus.

Contrary to what some of my friends think – I am not the best writer I know (and not just because my friends include a few published authors). I would park myself near the bottom of a very long list of good writers.

Yes – I have got a way with words but that is because I love language and how it goes together. The same applies to a virtuoso pianist who can get the most marvellous sounds from a grand piano, or one of the “Old Master” painters who painted wonderful pictures – they have a feel for their craft which I couldn’t replicate even if I tried.

Not all of us are lucky enough to be able to be paid for having fun under the banner of “working” (as in enjoying the job so much it feels like they are playing).

The trick is to find one aspect of your job which you enjoy doing – in my last job it was anything where I could use my creativity or my memory (yes – I could remember names and other details from years ago which other people had totally forgotten), along with the occasional opportunity to speak in my favourite language – Dutch.

We all need to find some enjoyment in life and – if you are going to spend most of it working – life is a lot easier if you enjoy your job (or at least part of it).

I would like to finish this blog post by telling you a bit of a secret about how I got this job. (If only because it might help you with your next career move.)

You could say I went on a bit of a “fishing trip”. I liked the sound of what Roger wanted to do and I originally wanted to see if I could use my experience of sight problems to help him. So I emailed him what turned out to be the very first blog post on here with my name on it (this was before I officially started blogging on here). What I am trying to say is – if you think there is a “you-shaped” hole in a company and you have got ideas and experience which you think is missing you have got nothing to lose by writing to them and telling them. It would certainly beat all the other prospective applications they will receive. It also appears to have worked for me. Give it a go and see what happens.

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Why We Need To Learn Each Other’s Language If We Are Going To Change Anything

I was watching a YouTube video where Trevor Noah was being interviewed and he made a very serious point (even though he dressed it up as a joke). What he said was really simple yet apparently difficult for people to get their heads around.

The point he was making was that our perception of the world depends on our experience of it. So far so obvious – right??? (At least that is the point I think most people in the audience would have thought he was making.)

Maybe it is just me being me but I found a deeper point in what he was saying.

The deeper point I found is as follows – our perception of the world also affects how we talk about it. Apart from that – it can appear as though we are speaking in two totally separate languages (even though both people in the conversation might be speaking English for example).

Allow me to give an example which I personally find extremely annoying.

Imagine you and I meet each other and you reach for your glasses saying “I am blind without my glasses”. (When we met your glasses were not on your nose – they might have been in your pocket, etc.)

What you mean is “I can actually see without my glasses but – on this occasion – my eyes need a little extra help in order for me to achieve my objective”.

Depending on my mood at the time my next question will probably be something along the lines of “what’s your prescription?” (Or – if you weren’t doing anything “dangerous” like walking when we met – I might ask how far you can see without them.)

Be very careful how you answer either of the above questions.

Your definition of being “unable to see without my glasses on” and my definition of the same phrase are probably worlds apart. Put it this way – my definition means that without my glasses on my nose I am either a danger to myself and others or I am rendered completely immobile. The furthest I can see clearly without my glasses is approximately 3 centimetres from the end of my nose – any further than that and life is literally a blur.

Why am I telling you this?

I am amused by the recent discussions about how different groups of people are treated by other different groups of people. Racism, sexism, discrimination against (and abuse of) different minority groups, etc, are things which we are all affected by – either as perpetrators or victims (sometimes even both at the same time).

However, there is something which (to my knowledge) none of the various sides in the various debates has admitted yet. Nobody has said “I know you will never be able to share my exact experience of this situation – so we need to find a way of me enabling you to understand in a way that is accessible to you not me”.

I could bore you to sleep about my sight and the challenges I face as a result of it. Until you get to experience life in my shoes you will only have “textbook” knowledge of them. (If you look at A Taster Walk you will get more of a “practical” feel of what it is like for me walking around in “wall-to-wall” sunshine.)

I am not a member of the BAME population, my only personal (practical) experience of “disabilities” is due to my sight. For this reason I wouldn’t dare to tell anyone how they should treat the situation they find themselves in. To me that would be like me speaking to you in Dutch knowing full well that you can only understand English – you wouldn’t have a clue what I was saying and you would think I was being extremely rude.

Don’t misunderstand me – I support people who fight for equality. My problem isn’t the fight itself – my problem is survivors of racism, sexism, etc, telling their own stories in their own words and expecting those of us with no prior experience of the situation to understand their view of it as well as fighting it in the same way as them.

That is also the problem I have with the “privilege” banner which is sometimes hoisted as an answer to legitimate argument. I cannot argue with the fact that I am a white human. Nor can I argue with the fact that me being white can get me certain “privileges” which members of the BAME population cannot get.

What I can argue with is the idea that the best way to get me to join your cause is to use my “privilege” as a weapon against me. In fact, it is the worst way (unless you would like to be accused of subjecting me to the exact reverse of what you are accusing me of – as in discrimination).

If I could have any influence whatsoever on the various debates regarding discrimination – I would love to ensure that we all understand exactly how the different groups are feeling. I would also make sure the language we use is inclusive (as in – we all understand the meaning behind the language as well as the actual words used). Finally I would make it crystal clear that everyone has a different experience of the subject and they are all valid and they can all contribute something to the debate.

I saw a picture on Facebook of a mug with the words “I am Dutch – let’s save time and agree that I am always right”. Unfortunately – the debates we are having in society right now appear to be a case of “just replace Dutch with whatever cause you are arguing for”. (I don’t know if you have ever tried arguing with a Dutch person but – trust me – it is one of the most useless pass-times ever invented unless you come up with a cast iron reason for them to change their mind. Take it from someone with over 30 years experience in this. My Mum taught me very well.)

We need to be very careful otherwise we will just get nowhere fast.

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The Day I Thanked Someone For Challenging Me For Proof (Or – Why Disabled Seats Should Be Saved For Disabled People)

Someone challenged me to prove I was entitled to do something which many people take for granted – and I thanked them for challenging me. In fact – I wish more people (myself included) had the courage to challenge other people who do this.

The fact that my challenger obviously thought I was in the wrong and would rectify the situation was made clear via the means of “Excuse me. Did you notice the sign?” (with the veiled implication of “Hop it” audible behind the words).

The sign in question was “Please save this seat for Disabled and elderly people”. Instead of moving I merely flashed my Disabled Bus Pass at my challenger – who promptly agreed I had as much right as they had to sit in that seat (the challenger was obviously elderly – and polite). They were sitting in the seat behind me.

The reason I thanked them was I know I don’t look like I am Disabled. The fact that I carry two cards around with me which prove I am not only Disabled but also not exactly the healthiest person walking around on the planet (Disabled bus pass and Medical Exemption Certificate – so I don’t have to pay for my prescriptions) doesn’t have the same effect on most people as a white stick or a wheelchair.

I hate walking towards the back of a moving bus in order to find a seat. The closest empty seat I can find to the front of the bus will be the one I choose to sit on.

Other people have complained about the lack of respect and manners in society today – and I agree with them. I would rather take my chances standing up on a moving bus than attempt to ask someone else if I can sit in their seat. (I prefer to end my journey in an uninjured state – and some people can turn downright hostile if you ask them to move.)

In fact, if my back hadn’t started to complain loudly, I would have moved further towards the back of the (at that moment – stationary) bus. Yes, I am the kind of human who will give up my seat if I can see someone who is struggling to move down the bus.

Not everyone “shows” the exact level of their disability – some people are not remotely obviously disabled (Autism, etc) – some people (me included) are more disabled than we appear to be under most circumstances. (Let’s just say my glasses don’t tell the whole story.)

I would love it if bus drivers were to order passengers who sit in the “Disabled and Elderly” seats to either prove they are one and/or the other, or give the seats up to someone like me who can flash proof at them.

I live in hope.

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Why I Love Answering To My Two Favourite Words In The English Language (Or – Getting Confused By Names)

If you don’t know (or can’t remember) how to spell my name there is a very easy way to get three out of the five letters correct. All you need is an English dictionary. Yes – I did say “an English dictionary”. For those of you who are now wondering if I have become famous enough to lend my name to something – I haven’t. It is the other way around. Oh and – if you are now wondering if I have got English and Dutch confused – all will become clear.

Most people manage to get the first two letters of my first name correct (I have seen a very ingenious spelling which started with an “E”). I never hold out much hope for the third and fifth letters being correct. However, I am disturbed by the amount of people who put a “c” as the fourth letter.

This is where the English dictionary comes in handy. There is a substance – more precisely a fluid – which you may end up using if you decide to print this blog post out. The three letters in the name of this fluid are in the exact same order as they appear in my name. Try saying “Ink” in my earshot and don’t be surprised when I answer.

Another word I (more commonly) answer to is “Inky”. Or – if you want to turn my name into an anagram – “Inkee” (makes me sound like the recipient of a tattoo).

“Ink” and “Inky” happen to be my favourite words in the English language – mainly due to their connection with writing.

There are other words which humans answer to as an alternative to their first names – “Rob”, “Pat”, “Nick”, “Bill”.

There is one abbreviation which certain humans have been known to answer to which sets my teeth on edge every single time I hear it or read it. There is a key on a computer keyboard with this abbreviation on it which – if you press it – will delete whatever comes after the cursor. Which might explain why anyone who answers to the name of “Derek” is respectfully advised not to suggest I call them “Del” – they are likely to be called “Delete” instead.

However, the real fun for me comes when I am faced with someone who introduces themselves to me as either “Ben” (Dutch for “am”) or – my absolute favourite – “Nat”. The later can seriously confuse me – especially when the (usually) female in front of me looks completely dry. “Nat” means “wet” in Dutch.

The most confusing abbreviation of a name I have ever heard though belonged to my Mum. To a young English brain hearing the following sentence can be very confusing – “Jo and Co went out for lunch”. Especially when English brain has learned that “Co” is an abbreviation of “Company” (as in more than one human). English brain has to open Dutch dictionary and look under “C” to learn that – in this case at least – the “Co” in that sentence refers to one human who is more commonly known as “Coby” (cross-referenced under “M” for “Mum”).

My favourite English lady’s name has a “Royal” twist to it in my mind. Nope – it is not a “Royal” name in itself but it appears on my birth certificate with the word “King’s” in front of it. I love the name “Lynn”.

Names are really interesting. Some nicknames are even more so.

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Why “What’s In It For Me?” Is Not Necessarily A Selfish Question (Or – The Best Way Of Looking After Others Is Looking After Yourself)

We are taught not to be selfish and to put other people before ourselves. However, this attitude can actually become life-threatening if we don’t take time to look after ourselves as well as everyone else.

I have a rule when it comes to deciding whether or not I am going to do something or go somewhere – does it involve any of the 3 “F”s??? If not, I won’t do it.

The 3 “F”s???

“Fun”, “Food”, and “Friends”.

OK – so the “Food” and the “Friends” are not necessarily all that important (but – trust me – I am more likely to turn up if I know someone else who is going). However, the “Fun” bit is the deal-breaker. If I don’t think any single part of the activity will be fun for me – forget it.

Question – How are you defining “Fun”???

Simple – anything which doesn’t leave me feeling stressed out and unable to enjoy myself for the duration of whatever I am doing or attending.

Take yesterday evening for example.

I decided to go to an event which was two buses away. It was dark as well. I had been to the location by bus before so I had some idea of where I was going. What made me definitely decide to go was not having to worry about travelling home on my own (someone very kindly offered to help me find a lift home).

On the flip side – I had been invited to another event next Monday evening and I turned it down because I knew I would be worrying about getting home afterwards (again two buses away). I had been to the same event last year.

So – transport issues can have an impact on the “Fun” scale, so can lighting levels. I prefer to be on known turf when it is dark if I am on my own. As in – I need to have some idea of where I am going. Due to my sight I will always try to do a trial run during daylight if I need to be anywhere alien on my own at night.

Obviously – the activity I intend to do needs to be fun for me as well. This can be meeting new humans, listening to a talk on a subject I like, writing, surprising people merely by turning up where I am least expected, taking myself off on some madcap bus trip, etc.

I can usually find some element of fun in most activities – even things like injections and blood tests (try greeting the nurse who does your next blood test with the words “Hello Vampire”). As long as I haven’t been stressed out by travelling, etc, that is.

There is something else which stresses me out. Feeling like I have got to “perform”. I don’t mean standing on a stage singing either (I am quite happy to do that). By “perform” I mean act “normal” and hide my sight problem so as not to cause anyone else to derange themselves (sorry – that was the English translation of one of my favourite French phrases – “would you derange yourself if I…?”) in my presence – and save having to explain why it is impossible for me to do or see what is required of me.

If asking “what’s in it for me?” was solely a question about rewards (financial or otherwise) that would make it a selfish question.

Because me asking “what’s in it for me?” is a question of looking after my health, stress levels, and wellbeing (even more important with my current health status) – I am looking after both myself and others who may be affected by my actions. This is not selfish – in fact, I would go so far as to say it is selfless. One less person for everyone else to worry about.

Caring for yourself is the first step in caring for other people. That is what some people seem to have forgotten – they are too busy caring for and about others they have lost sight of the need to care for and about themselves first.

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Me??? An Expert??? (Or – The Day I Learned Through Attempting To Educate)

There are times when I agree to do things for reasons which don’t actually make much sense when you think about them logically – but I end up enjoying whatever I end up doing more than I had expected.

Two separate (but connected) people invited me to a “Media Cafe” type gathering involving some Media students from DeMontfort University in Leicester.

To be perfectly honest – had I not been friends with the first person who invited me – the chances are I wouldn’t have gone. The second person who invited me made the occasion sound like one of their usual madcap ventures – thereby getting me hooked on the idea of going.

Anyway – I presented myself at the venue (wondering what I had let myself in for) and ended up having great fun talking to one of the students.

Now – one thing you have to know about me is that I am not very comfortable talking to “academic” types about “academic” subjects. That is unless I think I can put my brain and my experience to use in a way they can’t (this is a very rare event).

There is one thing I consider myself to be a fully paid-up “Expert” in – living with a sight problem.

There are several things which other people appear to think I am either good at or an “Expert” in (and I happen to think they are way better than me in them), ie, Social Media, writing, blogging, etc.

Well, I exist to write – and Social Media and blogging are both things which require that skill. They also involve something else which I feel we are losing the ability to do properly – communicate verbally (both in speech and writing).

As you probably know by now – I find words, dialects, and languages, fascinating. We have a rich lexicon of words in the English language (and that is before you start adding other languages) with an interesting history – but we seem intent on abusing it in the name of “progress”.

Just as a side thought – does anyone else remember a card game called “Lexicon”??? It was a bit like Scrabble but with playing cards with letters on instead of tiles.

I ended up feeling like I had made a valid contribution – even more so when I was speaking to a lecturer after the event had finished and they confirmed most of my existing thoughts.

The best way to meet people and learn from them is to create an environment where you can share a coffee (or beverage of your preference) and conversation in a “safe” space.

What I mean by “safe” space isn’t only one where people feel secure as people but also a space where they can ask the sorts of questions which might sound nosy, offensive, or just plain “left field” (my personal speciality) without fear of being attacked either physically or verbally as a result. I learn best when I am allowed to ask the kind of questions which help me to file information in my brain (and those questions might sound like the stupidest questions you have ever heard – be thankful they are being asked though because it shows I am genuinely interested).

Communication is key to so many things and it is something we really need to learn over and over again.

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The Connection Between Pre-Prepared Vegetables And The NHS Crisis (Or – How Focusing On The Obvious Isn’t Necessarily A Good Idea)

You are probably looking at the first part of the title to today’s blog post and wondering how I dare to link two totally unconnected subjects???  Well, actually those subjects are more connected than you think.  Not just because inadequate consumption of fruit and vegetables can land you in hospital either.

Apparently it is only the lazy people – or those with more money than sense – who buy pre-prepared vegetables???  Not forgetting those of us who don’t care about the environmental impact of the excessive packaging on the aforementioned items???

Well, if I was feeling uncharitable towards the able-bodied, non-visually-impaired, members of society, I could argue that the people who agree with that argument might have a point.

However, then I would be guilty of the same thing as them – a massive generalisation.  You see there are some people for whom the act of preparing vegetables for consumption is either downright dangerous or physically impossible.  (I fit into the category where it can be downright dangerous.). I am talking about people with limited function in their hands, people with poor sight, and other disabilities.

I prefer to do things for myself when I can.  This includes cooking.  Therefore, if given a choice between attempting to munch raw parsnips or finding a pre-prepared serving of parsnips which I can stick in the microwave and cook, I will go for the second option.

I have read somewhere about there being an issue of “privilege” coming into play on this subject.  Sorry guys – it’s not “privilege”.  What it is is a lack of education about how Disabled people can (and do) function reasonably well on our own if you give us the required help – as well as how that help can be seen as an unnecessary “luxury” – particularly when the “able-bodied” commandeer it for their own use.

What has all the above got to do with the NHS Crisis???  (Apart from the availability of pre-prepared vegetables ensuring I stay uninjured – or rather – uncut whilst cooking???)

There is an unspoken subject in the NHS Crisis which I think urgently needs to be addressed.  And I was as culpable as anyone before I ended up in my current situation.

Did I bother my GP with inconsequential symptoms which I could have treated at home??? Nope.

Did I use the Ambulance service inappropriately for minor injuries???  Nope.

Did I clog up A&E as a result of a minor illness???  Nope.

In fact, my absolute hatred of hospitals and Medical Professionals – coupled with being told by the Mainstream Media (and the NHS themselves) only to use things like ambulances and A&E in an emergency – led me to leave seeking medical attention until it was almost too late to help me.

It is all very well to praise those of us who try our best not to put any pressure on the NHS with minor complaints, injuries, and illnesses.  However, if we leave things to cure themselves we could actually cause more expense for the NHS when the opposite occurs and our health deteriorates drastically.

As with the pre-prepared vegetables – there needs to be a discussion about the appropriate use of NHS resources which includes those of us who don’t like bothering Medical Professionals even when we are literally dying on our feet, as well as the ones who treat the NHS as their personal slaves.

The funny thing is – I actually followed the advice I had been force-fed on the correct use of the NHS and ambulances.  This meant that I didn’t dial 999 because I could walk far enough to get into a taxi.  However, when I got a booklet about what to do with symptoms of “heart failure” when they go haywire, I learned that my exact level of breathless when I took myself to A&E would have made me a prime candidate for a journey on a small bed with blue flashing lights.  The fact that I could walk was beside the point.

We need a proper discussion as to what exactly constitutes a medical emergency with parameters which are clearly understood by everyone.  We also need to encourage the “properly poorly” to seek medical attention without feeling uncomfortable about wasting NHS resources.

The thing I find really annoying is – when certain diseases or illnesses become the focus of Media attention – the lists of symptoms sometimes include things I have had my entire life without becoming poorly as a result of them.  Blurred vision, sensitivity to light, and spots in front of the eyes, are all apparently symptoms which should send me rushing to A&E??? Can someone please ask the Media to add the caveat “if you have never experienced them before” to their urging to seek medical attention???

In both the “pre-prepared vegetables” discussion and the “NHS Crisis” there is a lack of education about the hidden people which are affected by the arguments.  Until all sides are included – and heard – we are never going to get a useful outcome to either debate.


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