The Anonymous Widower

Blood Testing At The Royal London Hospital

The Royal London Hospital is still trying to get to the bottom of my health incident, that I wrote about in The Hour Change Has Completely Knocked Me Out.

On Monday, I had a serious liver scan by ultrasound at Barts Hospital and today, I was phoned up by the Royal London to invite me to take a blood test to check against those that they took a couple of weeks ago.

They said to turn up any day before five and they would do it there and then.

As I was going past the hospital this afternoon, I turned up about two-thirty, without a prior appointment.

I logged myself into a queuing system, which was more McDonalds or Leon, than NHS and sat for about fifteen minutes, whilst the patients in front of me were tested.

As I sat there, I was approached by a doctor doing research. He asked if I would give a couple of extra vials of blood for his research.

As I knew that this would only delay me for a few more seconds, I said yes and filled in his form, which asked no important ethical questions.

Is the system in use at the Royal London Hospital research-friendly?

Suppose, a researcher is looking into the frequency of a particular gene in a population. They could just ask patients for a sample.

November 24, 2022 Posted by | Health | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

East Kent Maternity Deaths: Babies Might Have Survived With Better Care

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

This is the first paragraph.

Up to 45 babies might have survived if they had received better care at East Kent NHS Hospitals Trust, a damning independent review has found.

As a father of three, who has experienced the death of both his wife and youngest son, I know that this is a tragedy for too many families.

But episodes like these seem to come along regularly in the NHS. We have had two cases, where nurses were murdering babies, the notorious Harold Shipman and several abuse cases in mental health.

Is the monitoring of the outcome of patient treatment up to scratch?

In the 1970s, I was asked to do some programming for Bob, who was the Chief Management Accountant of Lloyds Bank and before that he had been Chief Accountant of Vickers. Bob had very definite ideas about how to ascertain the performance of various divisions and departments in a company or organisation.

He taught me a lot as we applied his ideas to check out the performance of various branches in the Bank. A lot of his experience was incorporated into Artemis and other programs I have written.

One of the things we did with bank branches was to plot groups of branches in simple scatter diagrams, so that those with problems stood out.

Does the government do similar things with hospitals and GP surgeries?

I even went as far as to suggest that my software Daisy could be used to find rogue practitioners like Harold Shipman. I was thanked for my submission to the report, but was not told my ideas were mentioned in the report.

Conclusion

I believe that more babies might have survived in Kent, if a statistician had been comparing results between hospital trusts and actively looking for problems.

I suspect the reason, there is no serious analysis, is that there is a belief in the NHS, that no-one ever makes mistakes or is evil.

 

October 19, 2022 Posted by | Computing, Health | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Statins Are Not To Blame For Most Muscle Pain, Scientists Conclude

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on The Times.

This is the first two paragraphs, that outlines the study.

Fears over statin side effects are unfounded as they only lead to muscle pain in 1 per cent of patients, a comprehensive study has shown.

University of Oxford scientists say they have “definitively” proven wrong the widespread belief that statins are a common cause of muscle symptoms.

Can my experience, add anything to the argument?

  • I am seventy-five years, 170 cms. in height and weigh just over sixty-two kilograms.
  • I have been taking statins, at least since I had my stroke ten years ago.
  • I have been diagnosed with arthritis in my left knee. I put this down to the fact, that my wife and I had three small children fifty years ago and lived in a fifth-floor flat with no lift. All the carrying up the stairs damaged the knee and it flares up every ten years or so!
  • I have constant minor pain in my left humerus, which was broken by the school bully, when I was fourteen.
  • When I was diagnosed as a coeliac and went gluten-free, a lot of my muscle and joint pains were reduced.
  • The pain levels seem to have risen again since going on statins.

This page on the NHS web site is an overview of Coeliac Disease.

In a section, which is called Who’s Affected?, this is said.

Coeliac disease is a condition that affects at least 1 in every 100 people in the UK.

But some experts think this may be underestimated because milder cases may go undiagnosed or be misdiagnosed as other digestive conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Reported cases of coeliac disease are around 3 times higher in women than men.

I also believe that the number of diagnosed coeliacs, is also affected by the fact that there was no test for coeliac disease in children until 1960 and that a reliable genetic test wasn’t available until the 1990s. This will lead to numbers of undiagnosed coeliacs in the older population.

Coincidence Or Just Facts?

Note that statin side effects only lead to muscle pain in one per cent of patients according to the report in The Times and one per cent of the population are coeliac.

Conclusion

I’m no medic, but I am a coeliac and an analyser of data. I believe that better analysis of the data may add some new insight.

For instance, as coeliac disease is three times higher in women, then if it is involved, then it would mean that the muscle pain ratios will have a sex component.

I also believe, that all medical research databases, should record, whether the participants are coeliacs.

 

August 29, 2022 Posted by | Health | , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Operated On Left Eye Is Working Well

I have just completed The Times Deadly Killer Sudoku in forty minutes on the phone using only my left eye. It certainly works better than it did.

I’m actually doing most typing on my phone using the left eye as it is much better than the right.

The wonders of modern surgery. And all paid for by the NHS in a private hospital.

 

December 16, 2021 Posted by | Health | , , , | 1 Comment

The District Nurse Takes Control

As I said earlier my only problem was putting in the drops.

I told my GP yesterday, and saw him send a message to the District Nurses.

Today one of the organisers phoned me and an hour later she turned up and gave me an assessment.

She also put drops in my eyes and came back later to repeat the dose.

She had all the attributes one associates with District Nurses. She was professional, competence and well-turned out. The only difference from the stereotype was that she was probably younger than thirty.

She or one of her colleagues will come back tomorrow and she is trying to source a device that will enable me to do my eyes myself.

It is good to see, that with the pandemic still raging, I can get good care like that from the NHS.

November 18, 2021 Posted by | Health | , , | 6 Comments

People With Coeliac Disease Are At Higher Risk For Cataracts

The title of this post is the same as that of this page on Ocli Vision.

This is a paragraph from the article.

In a recent study published by the American Journal of Epidemiology, researchers found that people who suffer from celiac disease are at a much higher risk of developing cataracts than those who are not diagnosed with the disease.

On Monday, Boots identified that my cataracts had got worse and signed me up to a private hospital that could do them free on the NHS.

It was an offer I couldn’t refuse.

September 30, 2021 Posted by | Health | , , , , , | 8 Comments

Job Done – I’ve Now Had My First Covid-19 Vaccination

I arrived a few minutes early at the Francis Crick Institute, for my appointment to be vaccinated.

I had booked to be vaccinated there, as I wanted to have a look inside one of London’s new modern buildings.

I was told to enter from the North side of the building. As the pictures show there were no signs, but someone had spotted me and given me directions.

I was directed to stand in a particular place and then told to enter the building, by walking down a set of stairs to the basement.

  • I think my temperature could have been automatically checked before entry, as it certainly wasn’t anywhere else, that I noticed.
  • There was a stair-lift at the entrance, for those not able to manage the stairs.
  • Not that I saw anybody walking with more than the aid of a stick!

Once in the basement, I was asked to sit on one of about ten socially-distanced chairs.

Registration

There were a group of about six young ladies and perhaps a couple of young men, who then registered all those who had come for vaccination.

This was done mainly using your NHS number, so make sure you bring it.

Interview

Once registered, I was moved to another set of socially-distanced chairs, each of which was outside a cubicle.

I was then called in to the cubicle and given an interview by a young doctor.

She asked general questions and some about the drugs I take, so make sure you know what drugs you’re taking.

But otherwise the questions were ones everybody should know about themselves.

Vaccination

Once interviewed, I was moved to another set of socially-distanced chairs, each of which was outside a cubicle.

After about five minutes, I was called into the cubicle to be vaccinated, by a young lady.

I was only asked one question and that was whether I was right-handed or left-handed.

I am complicated, as because my left arm was badly broken by the school bully and I am right-handed, I prefer to have injections in my dominant right arm.

I also told her, that my unusual skin, means I don’t bleed from injections and she wouldn’t need a plaster.

She then said, that very few need a plaster with this vaccine.

The injection was quick and one of the few where the vaccinator didn’t say something like “Sharp scratch!”

I held a small cotton wool pad over the spot for perhaps thirty seconds, but despite being on Warfarin, my skin did its usual good job of stopping any bleeding.

I declined the sticker saying I’d been vaccinated and before I left, I was told I’d had the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Timings

From the time I arrived until the time I left was about half-an-hour.

Professionalism

It was all very professional and well-organised.

I’ve worked in factories and it was arranged very much how some factories are arranged, where the product being built is moved from one work-station to another until they reach Despatch.

It was also very relaxed and unhurried with lots of extra young people directing the patients around the various seats and cubicles.

Throughput

I have done my share of time-and-motion studies in the past and I suspect that, as time progresses, that the number of patients handled by this facility could be increased.

On the other hand, it may be kept a bit below capacity to make sure the relaxed atmosphere is preserved.

A Thought On The Staff

I must admit, I didn’t see all of the staff, but of the ones I saw, only one wasn’t white and she was Chinese and called Ying. Incidentally, she registered me, when I arrived.

A Thought On The Patients

All of the patients were white and with the exception of one other and myself, they were all female. As the patients were mainly over sixty and had probably made a choice to be vaccinated at the Francis Crick Institute on their computer, I find the ethnic distribution of the patients curious.

A Thought On The AstraZeneca Vaccine

I have a regular B12 injection and a flu vaccination every year, so I’m used to injections. The practice nurse is very quick, but the lady, who vaccinated me today was exceptionally quick.

  • She also had a couple of syringes ready-filled waiting for me and following patients.
  • She was able to vaccinate me, without my taking off my short-sleeved shirt and thermal vest.
  • I also hardly felt a thing.
  • I didn’t need a plaster.

As a friend, who also had the AstraZeneca vaccine, also said he didn’t feel a thing, I wonder, if AstraZeneca have designed this vaccine and its delivery system, so that patients can be quickly vaccinated.

Imagine market day, in a very populous country like Brazil, India or Nigeria! Has this vaccine has been designed to handle mass vaccinations in an environment like that?

It should be remembered that this is AstraZeneca’s first vaccine.

I have a feeling, that this vaccine could have been designed to a new set of rules, so that teams can vaccinate large numbers of people quickly.

 

January 28, 2021 Posted by | Health | , , , , | 9 Comments

Is The NHS The Cause Of The Rise In The Covids?

I was lying in my morning bath thinking this morning and I had the heretic thought, which is the title of this post.

How many prominent people in the UK have died from an attack of the covids? There have been some at an advanced age, but generally they were suffering from something else as well!

The highest profile person to be hospitalised by the covids, has been Boris. But despite his weight and obesity, he came through it unscathed, due to excellent care in an NHS hospital!

I’m 73 now, but if I look back to my twenties and thirties, I see an optimistic, fit, slim guy, who felt he was immune from health problems. I can also only remember one of my peers at Liverpool University in the 1960s going into hospital and it was so memorable, I can’t remember what he had.

The youth of the UK, don’t think the covids will happen to them and growing up in an NHS, which has looked after their every need, when they look around them, they feel it will get them through, if they catch the virus.

So the fact that the NHS is there and got the fat Boris, through it, means that they think, they’ll be alright in the end.

Conclusion

The success of the NHS could be a factor in the rise of lab-confirmed cases of the covids.

Are other countries with good health systems, that coped with the first wave, xperiencing a second one?

October 7, 2020 Posted by | Health | , , | 3 Comments

Should The NHS Adopt A Whack-A-Coeliac Policy?

The Wikipedia entry for Whac-a-Mole, says this about the colloquial use of the name of an arcade game.

In late June 2020, Boris Johnson based the UK’s COVID-19 strategy on the game.

Because of the high number of diagnosed coeliacs in the Cambridge area, I believe that I was diagnosed to be coeliac, by possible use of a Whack-a-Coeliac policy at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge, in the last years of the Twentieth Century.

  • I was suffering from low B12 levels and my GP sent me to the hospital to see a consultant.
  • It was only a quick visit and all I remember, is the speed with which the nurse took my blood.
  • A couple of days later, I received a letter from the hospital, saying it was likely I was a coeliac and it would be confirmed by an endoscopy.
  • A point to note, is that I had my endoscopy with just a throat spray and this must have increased the efficiency and throughput and reduced the  cost of the procedure.

The only way, I could have been diagnosed so quickly would have been through an analysis of my genes and blood. But I was never told, what method was used.

I have a few further thoughts.

My Health Since Diagnosis

It has undoubtedly improved.

Cancer And Diagnosed Coeliacs On A Gluten-Free Diet

Joe West of Nottingham University has shown, that diagnosed coeliacs on a gluten-free diet have a 25% lower risk of cancer compared to the general population.

That is certainly a collateral benefit of being a coeliac. But is it being a coeliac or the diet?

I’m no medic, but could the reason be, that diagnosed coeliacs on a gluten-free diet have a strong immune system?

Coeliac Disease Is A Many-Headed Hydra

I have heard a doctor describe coeliac disease or gluten-sensitivity as a many-headed hydra, as it can turn up in so many other illnesses.

Type “coeliac disease many-headed hydra” into Google and this article on the NCBI , which is entitled Gluten Sensitivity: A Many Headed Hydra, is the first of many.

This is the sub-title of the article.

Heightened responsiveness to gluten is not confined to the gut

My son; George was an undiagnosed coeliac, who had a poor diet consisting mostly of Subways, cigarettes and high-strength cannabis. He died at just thirty-seven of pancreatic cancer.

Did George have a poor immune system, which was useless at fighting the cancer?

Undiagnosed Coeliac Disease In The Over-Sixty-Fives

In A Thought On Deaths Of The Elderly From Covid-19, I used data from Age UK and Coeliac UK to estimate the number of coeliacs in the UK over the age of sixty-five. I said this.

Age UK has a figure of twelve million who are over 65 in the UK. If 1-in-100 in the UK are coeliac, that is 120,000 coeliacs over 65.

But some research shows that the number of coeliacs can be as high as 1-in-50.

If that 120,000 were all diagnosed, I would have several coeliacs amongst my over-65 friends. I have just one and she is self-diagnosed.

Are all these undiagnosed coeliacs out there, easy targets for diseases like cancer and COVID-19?

The Ease Of Testing For Coeliac Disease

I was worried that my granddaughter was coeliac and I asked my GP, how difficult a test is to perform.

He said, that a genetic test is usually quick and correct and only a few borderline cases need to be referred to a consultant.

Diagnosis has moved on a lot in twenty years.

Cambridge, Oxford and Covid-19

Six weeks ago I wrote Oxford And Cambridge Compared On COVID-19, to try to find out why the number of Covid-19 cases are so much lower in Cambridge than Oxford.

Checking today, the rate of lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents is as follows.

  • Cambridge 336.6
  • Oxford 449

So why the difference?

In the related post, this was my explanation.

Is the large number of diagnosed coeliacs around Cambridge, the reason the area has a lower COVID-19 rate than Oxford?

It sounds a long shot, but it could be a vindication of a possible Whack-a-Coeliac policy at Addenbrooke’s in the last years of the Twentieth Century.

Conclusion

I think the NHS should seriously look at a Whack-a-Coeliac problem!

  • The health of a large number of people would improve.
  • There would be less cancer in the UK.
  • A better combined National Immune System might help in our fight against the next virus to follow COVID-19.

It would be a very simple testing program, that would be mainly in the hands of the GPs.

 

 

July 6, 2020 Posted by | Health | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Delivery Drone Flies Medical Supplies To Britain’s Isle of Wight

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Reuters.

This is the introductory paragraph.

A new drone service will reduce delivery times for urgent medical supplies to a hospital on the Isle of Wight, which lies about 8 kilometres off the south coast of England.

In some ways the most remarkable thing about this project, was that the drone was developed by Southampton University to deliver medical supplies in remote parts of Africa.

  • It is twin-engined.
  • It has a range of 100 km.
  • It can carry a 100 kg payload.
  • It can take off and land on short grass runways.

More details can be found on this page of the Southampton University web site.

This is a video of the first delivery.

May 13, 2020 Posted by | Health, Transport/Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment