Archive for August, 2008

The drama of Diane

Diane is 59 years old, and she suffers from anxiety and depression. I would be sympathetic for most people, but Diane isn’t most people. She had 2 years off work and would never have come back except she thought she might get a few quid if she made a big fuss.

So she made a big fuss, hoping that during the restructure the company had forgotten about her and would pay her to go away rather than make room for her. Except the company did make room for her, and welcomed her back (albeit slightly reluctantly, since they knew she’d be trouble).

Since then, Diane has behaved like a spoiled child, stamping her feet and making a scene wherever possible. Despite coming back in a supervisory role, she tried not to do her job, and got away with it. The company allowed her to continue with her therapy appointments, and time off to go line-dancing (since it helped her stress-levels).

Finally, her manager had had enough and started to make her come in on time, manage her staff and get on with her job.

She threw a strop, and cried and made a fuss and went off sick.

She didn’t want to see a doctor from Occupational Health, so we send him to her house.

He told us she would be ok to go back to work if only the relationship with her line manager could be resolved.

That’s where I came in.

I went to see this pathetic little slip of a woman, hiding behind her arms, peering out with wide, anxious eyes at me. Scratching at her neck, worrying and wringing her hands.

Oh dear. Said I. This is terrible. I think we need to take your grievance further so we can sort out the problems with your line manager and get you back to work.

Oh no, said her union representative.

We just want £150,000 instead.

Why? Said I.

Because she doesn’t want to go back to work, and her manager is making her do things she doesn’t like.

What, her job, you mean?

Yes, but she can’t do it.

No kidding.

Oh well, we’ll see, say I.

So I ask Diane about the work she used to do, many years ago in Finance, when things were better.

Her arms came down to her lap, she looked at me and smiled, and chatted away like a grown up for the first time in the meeting.


Ill my arse.


Pure Joy

I’ve just returned from a weekend at V2008.

I have learned about MDMA or Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (Methylene-dioxy-meth-amphetamine), otherwise known as Ecstasy.

I’ve heard of Ecstasy, but when the girl in the tutu with the unequal pupils told me she loved me and hoped I wouldn’t tell the police when she said she had taken MDMA, I wasn’t sure what she was talking about.

Mind you, I recognised the euphoria, the obviously enhanced sensory experience she seemed to be having, the rapid eye movements (nystagmus) and the over-the-top intimate behaviour with complete strangers. Miss Tutu was buzzing. She couldn’t focus – “there’s millions of you! You look like a kaleidoscope!” – she wanted to hug everyone in sight, take her clothes off one by one, and was telling me how wonderful everything was. She was somehow talking to me and singing along with the band at the same time, too!

The strange thing about her was that she had such an odd look in her eyes – probably a combination of the unequal pupils, and the spasms in her jaw, accompanied by involuntary teeth-grinding and clenching -so much so that she was biting the insides of her cheeks until they bled. Her temperature was a little high, and her lips were dry and cracked and crusted with blood where she’d bitten her mouth. 

She seemed like she might have been quite a pleasant, outgoing, sensible sort of girl, but she had become a caricature, contorted and gurning, and amusing for all the wrong reasons. It struck me how completely vulnerable this little girl suddenly was. Fearless, confident, attention-seeking, young, pretty, half-undressed……… who knows what the story might have been if we weren’t there to look after her on Sunday evening. 

You make your own choices in the world, and whatever happens you have to live with the consequences.

She was lucky this time. I wonder what happened to the other lost girls and boys who weren’t quite so lucky.

Off to See the…..

No, not the Wizard, the V Festival.

No, I did not buy a ticket! I’m there to do first aid cover.  

Tell you all about it when I get back!

Spaniel xx

Dr Google

I have a vitamin B12 deficiency.

My Dr gave me the results of the blood test:

“Well, everything came back normal, Ms Spaniel, but your B12 levels are lower than they should be.”

“Oh” says I, “What does vitamin B12 do then?”

“Errr. Well, it helps your body absorb stuff, and helps make red blood cells work”. Says the Dr, looking a bit uneasy, like he was rather hoping I wasn’t going to be this intelligent, nor ask him too many probing questions.

“I see. So, what kind of symptoms might I be experiencing with this kind of deficiency?”

“Weeeeellll…..” He says, and reaches forward to his computer keyboard. “What I’d like to do, is get you to have a high B12 diet over the next month, and then undergo another blood test.”

“OK. What foods contain a lot of vitamin B12, then?”

“Let’s have a look” says the Dr, and I realise he’s got the Google search page up on his computer screen!

Yes, Google. I looked at him carefully. Does he look like a proper doctor? I don’t know. He’s fairly young, asian-looking, cool clothes. Not a white coat or a set of elbow-patches in sight. How would I know if he was just a bloke on a work-placement scheme?

I was just about to aske to see his qualifications, when the computer screen came up with the results of the search.

He clicked here and there and gave me the details. I can read off the internet, too, I thought to myself.

Here’s what he told me:

Yeast Extract, Offal (especially Liver), fortified breakfast cereals, dairly products like milk and cheese.

I gave up and went away. I think the Dr learned something though.