I’m UnSmarting my Phone.

Tuesday 10 August, 2021

Like I mentioned in this post, my Smart Phone’s battery was (still is) dying again, the volume keeps dropping leading to me missing phone calls. Now the microphone seems to have gone as nobody who calls me/I call can hear me. I’m charging my phone twice a day even if it’s sitting there idling on my bedside table all day, incase someone important calls as nobody is ringing the landline these days, for reasons I can’t get down to. I charge it three days on “heavy use” days, by which I mean someone calls and I speak for about an hour, or I dare to go out, now that I have a carer, and I dare to use the camera.

The battery health says 92%. I think it’s lower but the phone doesn’t realise it. I can’t be bothered to go through the process to have it checked because their diagnostics tool depend on you using your phone, but then the Apple Tech guy got annoyed at me when switching apps apps to download the diagnostics app disconnected his remote link and he coudln’t start the diagnostics when it finally downloaded. Last time the battery said 90% but the diagnostics said 85 or 86%.. I imagine it’s about the same now, if not worse because it does feel worse with less use.

I could buy a new smart phone, except most on the market are too big for my hands. I’m swearing off future apple products because of this battery issue. They are expensive and the makers create problems so that you spend more money, like remove the audiojack to force you to buy either airpods or an adaptor if you don’t want airpods.

I’m fed up. I’m done. I honestly don’t know why I’ve put up with it this long in the first place. I say that someone who understands my “internet addiction” is actually my need for constant mental stimulation and the ability to flit between tasks seemlessly without physical strain on my body, but my phone’s main purpose is anything but a phone these days, and since I’ve bought the tablet, the smart functions on the phone are unneccessary. Which means this phone is unneccessary. Because whilst there might be important phone calls from social workers or care agencies or the doctors, I’m not getting many social phone calls from other people these days. There’s apps for that I use my tablet for, I guess, but people have just stopped reaching out to me. Which… is fine, I suppose. We’re all going through our own things and honestly, i’m just so tired anyway that even days when people do call, I’ll have a burst of energy to get through the phone call and drop straight after… or i’m just downright faking the energy and then reaping what I sow later.

So I’ve gone and bought myself an UnSmart nokia.

I’m going 2003, baby! This phone does not have Apps. It can’t do google or websearches or QR codes – which is only worrying in relation to Covid, but there’s still paper alternatives available which I’m happy to have to use. For music, I’ve inherited my mum’s ipod. For pictures, I’ll actually start using my very nice camera again, and in the case of hospital days, i’ll hopefully have my kindle too (5th Gen, still significantly lighter than my tablet) but that’s also been a bit temporamental the last few years so I might need to either upload an audiobook on the iPod or take the tablet. The poor little 5th Gen Kindle switches off if I have the audacity to flick through pages a bit too quickly! So… it might go kaput on me for good in the next year, but it’s still hanging in there. Yay!

This phone rings out, and people can ring it, it can do texts. It has Snake.

The one downside? Bloody T9 pad. I’m a quick texter, everytime i type on a T9 pad it all comes back to me, but it’s still so bloody tedious. But unfortunately a QWERTY keyboard on a UnSmart phone that works with today’s Sim Cards does not currently exist. I didn’t want to buy an old old old phone only to find the sim card was not compativle because it’s no longer 2001.

Watch this space! In 6 months I’ll either have regretted this decision terribly and crawled back to Apple because their iPhone Minis at least fit my hand span, or have found a new way of life with my nokia.

Inside i’m screaming

Monday 12 July, 2021

Ever feel like you’re the only person who can see the meteor coming towards earth and everyone around you is either severely blind with no vision or too busy dancing to the next biggest absolute belter of a tune to LOOK UP AND SEE IT whilst they’re telling you that everything is fine? But they’re NOT LOOKING UP.

Because holy shit, our infection rates are going up, the DEATH rate is going up, people who are double jabbed are dying of the Delta variant, there’s been a case and death of Lamda variant, and everyone’s just screaming that the 19th of July will be freedom day because they’ll no longer be legally required to wear masks.

Am I ever going to leave the house again without the risk of catching, spreading, potentially dying or being left severely harmed ny a deadly virus!?

If this virus just infected those idiots who didn’t care about others, well, so be it. But for every one person screaming it’s their right not to wear a mask, if they catch it, they infect 3 people and so on and so forth, and that’s how mutations happen.

I don’t think you know how Dial-a-ride works

Saturday 8 May, 2021

This post was originally written in 2017. I left it on To Be Edited, and then never got around to it. Posting it now. Keep in mind I only used the local Dial-A-Ride service a handful of times before my wheelchair was broke in 2019, and we’ve been dealing with the pandemic since early 2020. So if the service is different now, I’ve not had the pleasure to experience it yet.

I’ve had to go back to my local dial-a-ride service. I left them because of a multitude of reasons but them accusing me of lying after months of frustration due to poor service, was the straw that broke the camels back.

I’ve had a good four years without them, but in those four years, I’ve seen local transport and taxi service rise and now fall. We are going backwards in access and public attitude and it’s becoming harder, and more expensive, to get anywhere. But, when you look on social media or even hellsites such as Mumsnet, any complaints about poor access to public transport is always met with the patronising suggestion of using Dial-a-ride. Now this is yet another postcode-lottery dependent service, and I myself am ignorant as to whether every area has one or not or had one and lost it recently due to cuts. All I know is, what the service is, is probably nothing what these people imagine it to be.

I have vague memories of writing about this before, but I’m going to summarise again instead of directing people to an old post (because I’m too lazy to find it). You, the user, ring up between 7 and 2 days in advance of when you want to travel. You tell them the time you want to be picked up to go, and the time you want to return. You can travel any time after 8am but your return time has to get you home before 11pm. They ring you up anytime up to the day before you booked to confirm your journey details, and usually offer you an alternative time to the times you booked becuase they have to accommodate other people along the route.

I tried to book a pick up journey at 6:15 and a pick up at 10:30. Straight away I was told that would be too late. Even though all the information for the service says I can book as late as I want to as long as it allows to be dropped home before 11, I was then told by the person I spoke to the cut off time is actually 10pm. But also, they can turn up half an hour either side of that time on the day, so it could have worked in my favour that the driver would arrive for me at half 10… it could also work against me and pick me up a whole hour earlier than I’d like, at half 9. Oh, and I could be on the bus a whole hour between pick up and drop off.

I then got a phone call today to say that my pick up at home would be quarter past 5, which in fact could be as early as quarter to five, and get me to my destination way too early even if I was on board for the full hour. The latest they could offer me for pick up time for the return journey was 8 o’clock, I can’t do the maths on that but that would mean leaving an hour after the gathering of my friends would start, and they stay to midnight. I’m used to missing out some time because of my own health, but leaving before my health dictates is not on, just because the service is not fit for purpose.

But this is what able bodied people suggest we use, just because they do not want to share public services with disabled people.

I wonder what fuss they would kick up if they were told they had to travel half an hour earlier than they needed to, they would have leave two and a half hours early, and they could be on the bus any length time of time between twenty minutes to an hour. I highly doubt they’d just shrug their shoulders and accept it, because no one would want to travel this way! Nobody tries to fulfil social plans by going to train stations or bus stops without knowing what time the train or bus will turn up, or how long their journey is, what route they’re taking, or what time the last bus back is, especially if the last bus back means leaving an hour after the social event starts! It’s ludicrous!

But that’s Dial A Ride. And considering the only service users are disabled poeple, and many disabled poeple have care packages with carers on a time limit, it is really not fit for purpose. It is insulting that able bodied people keep toting it out like it’s a free premium taxi service. They really do not a have bloody clue.

AFJ vs End of Lockdown

Sunday 18 April, 2021

People are starting to ask me, in a very sarcastic and unkind way, if I’ll ever leave my flat again. As if the problem is me in this pandemic. The honest answer to the earnest question is, I don’t know. But this is not really the question, and not how to frame it even if it was.

The question is, can I trust people to not infect me with a deadly virus if I was to leave my flat ever again? And the answer is no.

People keep ignoring the fact that they are an important part of how this virus spreads, and has spread, over the past year. This isn’t a disease that spontaneously occurs in a person, like a cancer, it’s a virus, spread by the actions and inactions of the people. I’ve said many times now, countless, probably a thousand, that if I get sick, it won’t be because of anything I’ll have done to catch it, it will be because someone has passed it to me in wilful ignorance or arrogance. How can I trust the person on the street is not one of these people?

We’ve got anti maskers in their thousands who think their right not to wear a peace of cloth on their face trumps other people’s rights not to contract a deadly virus that, even if they survive, are likely to be left with irrepairable damage. They say to us who are at the highest risk of dying from it, or being left with damaged organs, blood clotting disorders, that if we’re so afraid of the virus, we can just stay home whilst they enjoy their freedom. They are the ones who are a literal danger to society, with the potential to spread and infect many people, which would lead to deaths, but it’s us that should stay out of their way?

Before anti-maskers, there were anti-vaxxers and these are the same set of people, and going by some of their social media accounts, they also love to flout social distancing rules to rub it in other poeple’s faces how much they don’t care.

So yeah, no I don’t feel safe going out, because these people could literally infect me.

I don’t understand why that’s a rdiculous notion or a controvercial concept or some sort of emotional/maturity failing. It’s not paranoia if there’s still a deadly virus being transmitted in the local community that could still kill me or the family I live with, or leave us permanently suffering from organ failure and seriously ill health.

Last week I left the flat for the first time in a year and a week

Tuesday 30 March, 2021

I honestly felt like I was never going to leave the flat ever again, and actually after last Thursday, it’s still a worry…

Nothing to do with Thursday, but last week was a bit of a bad week. Not sure what caused the flare up but my hips swelled up, then possibly the way I had to walk and sit to lessen the pain and discomfort from that caused pain in my back and neck, which forced me into lying down flat for a while until it all sorted itself out. Then I got a migraine. So Sunday and Monday were pretty bad. I was taking my full doses of cocodamol, which then kicked off my chronic acid reflux and even on esomeprazole and top up gaviscone, I was still choking on acid reflux asit continued to splash up my throat.

Such a glamorous life of a chronically sick and disabled person I lead.

But, Thursday was the day of 3 weeks since my jab. Which, it goes without saying, I did clearly survive. So, I’d already made a plan to go out and enjoy the nearby country side.

Thanks to waking up choking on acid reflux twice, I got less than 3 hours sleep. I actaully thought, you know what? I’m going to go the whole hog. First time outside of the house, properly, in a year and a day? I’m gonna dress nice! I’m gonna even put on make up! And if you know me, then you know that’s a very big deal because I only wear make up for weddings and really nice days out at the theatre with my friend, or I look very very sick and actually care enough to Not want people to think I’m diseased. And, given it was meant to be a sunny day, I thought “and the Sun Protection Factor on the foundation will come in handy.”

I woke up on Thursday feeling like crap and could not be arsed with the make up, so I didn’t. I did wear one of my nice Tshirts though, underneath my hoodie. And it was one of those awkward weather days where it was a bit too cold not to wear a coat, but absolutely boiling with a coat, so I thought, I haven’t actually felt a nice cool breeze on me in a very long time, so I’ll just wear a hoodie.

And then we went outside to the local nature park. We wore masks from before we even left the house, as per the SCIENCE. We passed 33 people during the whole hour we were out, only 2 of them were wearing masks, and they were carers inside of a car. It might be “safer” outside, but the air droplets of this virus do still linger in the air. Just because the government say you must wear a mask inside shops and enclosed spaces doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also be wearing masks when just outside.

Seconds after we got to the park, we got passed by 5 fellas on bicycles, none of whom we wearing masks.

I wanted to come home immediately. I just had to keep reminding myself that they were in each other’s company far longer than they were in mine, so more likely to get each other sick than me. Which is terrible, but no less true. But also, on the other side of the same coin, they must trust each other implicitly to take that risk with each other’s health, so if they could trust each other not to infect each other with the virus, then I could, potentially, also trust them not to infect me.

It just keeps coming back to not knowing whether I can trust everyone else is taking the pandemic seriously, taking the risk to their own health seriously, the risk to other people’s seriously, and that they understand what asymptomatic transmission means. Given what I’ve seen on the news and on social media, and even some friends, it’s a resounding no.

But I persevered. I was somewhat amazed and also somewhat dissappointed by the park looking the same as it usually does. The grass was still all there, there were no dystopian towers suddenly built in any of the fields, the pavements were all the sme, but I got wonderful fresh air (through a mask), and I was surrounded by greenery and some flowers. You can’t ask for more from a walk in the park!

Oh, we saw police horses! That was nice.

We also saw a whole group of people taking up over half the path and they could have gone single file like we were doing, but they didn’t. Which is just rude in normal circumstances, but violates the neccessary social distancing required during a pandemic. I mean, come ON people!

End of the line for the park, we turned around and came back. Which was good timing really because it was starting to go from “refreshingly cool breeze” to actually shivveringly cold.

Despite the bad morning and not feeling very well when we left the flat, I did actually feel better in a different way when we got back. My hips and knees didn’t feel like they were sitting in their sockets the right way, but I felt like I’d earned the tiredness I felt. The thing about chronic fatigue syndrome is that you can feel drained and tired but not feel sleepy, and you can go from being lively awake to feeling sickeningly overwhelmed very quickly. And, it’s always a risk when doing something new, or for the first time in a while, to feel sickeningly overwhelmed, almost as if you’re about to suffer a massive migraine that doesn’t quite come. It just happened that this time, I felt refreshinly tired which led to sleepy. So, after dinner, I fortified myself with some gaviscone and went for a kip.

I woke up a few hours later with my forehead all red. What could have possibly caused that!?

Oh yeah. The sun. Because when I sacked off putting make up on, I then didn’t bother with sun cream in it’s stead. I’ve been putting After Sun on my face twice a day ever since, hoping the red and dry skin will clear up to a slightly brown tan at some point. It usually happens. It’s not happening this time, though.

Maybe my skin’s forgotten what it needs to do after all this time of being indoors.

I don’t plan on going out again until after the second dose, now. The good thing about going out on Thursday, waiting 3 weeks until the first dose had reached it’s peak, was that it was likely to be other people braving the outdoors and elderly people already vaccinated (because, I don’t know if you remember, but shielders were actually advised to not even risk going out for exercise like other poeple were allowed to do). Now Johnson’s opening the country back up, I can anticipate the pavement situation being worse.

I sometimes have a good view of buses going by the window. I saw one a couple of hours ago with a lot of people on, despite bus companies saying they’ve lowered capacity, and the government saying still to only use public transport if your journey is necessary. (Which conflicts their over all message of return to your offices, filthy scroungers who don’t want to pay for commuter coffee or lunch break sandwiches from the expensive coffee shop near your work! I can understand why peopel are confused…)

Ultimately, I just don’t think it’ll be as safe it was, for me, to go out again until I am fully vaccinated. So that’ll be in two months.

I wonder what the outside will look like then! Dystopian tower, barren land, or depressingly the same as it did last Thursday?

One Year And A Day

Saturday 20 March, 2021

It’s been a year and a day since I went in to self isolation. That was the phrase being thrown around before the sheilding list went live, I don’t know if many people remember that. And many of us were then left off the sheidling list.

I’ve seen a total of 6 people in the last 12 months, most of them were just socially distanced door meetings. One person was a repair man who came in at some point between the two lockdowns.

I miss Libraries

I miss my friends

God I need a hug

I haven’t been able to visit my mum’s resting place.

And in fact, the reason it’s been a year and a day is because yesterday was the anniversary of scattering my Mum’s ashes. I’ve been a mess most of this week, and only, oddly enough, started to feel better about things, generally, yesterday. I think it was the 12th, last year, when things started to look bad when the government was telling people to only leave home for work and emergencies. So it was from then that I made the decision that, after scattering my Mum’s ashes, I wouldn’t be leaving the house until it was all over.

And since then I’ve left the flat 3 times.

Mum’s birthday, to visit her resting place

December, to get the flu jab.

And two weeks ago to get the covid jab.

People are talking about winding down lockdown, there are anti lockdown protests going on today – as well as the anti-protest laws marches – and people raring to go back to normal. There are still thousands of new infections a day, even though the death rate is slowly coming down, and the NHS is still overwhelmed.

Between the lack of 0 covid strategy and the general public really not caring about the health and well being of other people, I don’t feel like we’ll ever get back to normal. There’s certainly a lot of people I no longer have respect for, consdering they think their right to go to the pub trumps my right not to be killed by a deadly highly infectuous disease.

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Sunday 14 March, 2021

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My experience getting the vaccine: 1 day, 13 hours, 32 minutes and 0 seconds post jab

Saturday 6 March, 2021

Getting the vaccine itself was nothing short of a battle when it really didn’t need to be. I have a rare genetic disorder, asthma, a heart condition, ME, and a history of being very unwell with normal colds and flus, but none of this mattered to my GP. None of this has mattered to my GP throughout this whole pandemic. Starting with the shielding list, which I couldn’t get on because I didn’t have a “serious pre-existing respiratory condition”, calling my rare genetic disorder “idiopathic scoliosis” and ignoring all of my history and notes, to three weeks ago where I was told I am not elligible for group 6.

Group 6 includes people with pre-existing conditions, people with neurological conditions, ME and would otherwise be unable to tolerate hospital treatment should they get sick enough to need hospital treatment. Considering my history of hospital treatment:- you know, like the time I almost died of blood loss because they miscalculated how much blood I, a very small person, was able to lose during an operation because they were going with a standard average measurement; or having to put up with a hodge podge neck collar cut down as best as possible, because I don’t have much of a neck; or the time a nurse told me I was panicking because I had an endoscope in my throat and that’s why it wouldn’t go down and not because they were using a scope too big. I had to wait three months to try again, where I refused the suggested sedative because the nurse blew my vein using an IV needle too big – you could not make this up – and they used a paediatric scope with no problem instead…

I mean for god sakes, it’s never any secret that I, a very small person, am about to be a patient everytime I am about to be, but everytime I am in hospital they are shocked, Shocked!! When I can’t use their “average sized” equipment. I’m 4’3, their small gowns are too big, their orthopaedic equipment is too big, and I’ve had nurses blame me for not trying hard enough to get on with it anyway. Yes, I don’t think it’s unreasonable for me to worry that should I get the virus and need hospital treatment, I will have the wrong sized equipment used on me and suffer as a result, or just have a team of so called medics standing around shrugging at me because i’m intolerant to the wrong sized equipment. (similar to when I told a doctor, no I could not hop up on to the examination bed that was on wooden legs about 4 foot tall, even on a good day and I was at the hospital because I was not having a good day – I often wonder if him and the nurse thought if they stared at me long enough, I’d just magically levitate on to the table.)

So, the last three weeks have basically included me going three rounds of phone tennis with my GP and the receptionist who would “have a word with the GP” and never get back to me. I did, at one point, get a text to book my vaccine but when I opened the link, both centres were fully booked and it told me to try again later. When I tried again later, the link opened to a page saying the invitation had been cancelled. Which, eventually, fuelled me into a rage where I gave a Judge-worthy breakdown of my condiitons and how they effect me, how ME/CFS alone is included under neurological condiiton of Group 6 and that if I was inelligible, why did I get that text in the first place? I demanded to speak to a doctor, the receptionist tried to say a doctor could call me back after the weekend, I put my foot down with a firm voice and said no, a doctor needs to call me back today.

A doctor called me back two hours later.

I gave the doctor my Judge-worthy breakdown of all my conditions and how they effect me, and asked how did that not make me elligible? He said it sounded like it did, on the asthma alone. I then asked about how, if I was inelligible, how did I get that text message in the first place? He said he’d need to talk to his colleague but he was confident I was elligible, and that someone would definitely call me back too book my vaccine. I pushed it a bit and asked if that would be written on my notes, the doctor just said he needed to talk to his colleage. Ten minutes later the receptionist rung me bck to book my vaccine, and after that also booked my Dad’s appointment as he is now in the role of my primary carer.

And yesterday morning, after my taxi driver turned up late!! I got to the centre in time to have my jab. The fellow who gave me mine was a former anaesthetist. A funny sense of humour, but not exactly compatible with mine. I needed some comfort, after telling him I was no good with needles. He told me I didn’t need to be good with needles, he was the one giving them!

When he was giving my Dad his vaccine, he suddenly went “whoops”. I didn’t know why he’d said whoops, so I looked around and went “whoops? I don’t like the sound of whoops!”. I thought he’d explain, but he didn’t, he said “Not to worry! All done!”. Turned out he thought he’d missed the sharps bin but hadn’t, so it was fine.

But back to actually getting the vaccine. I am no good with needles. I once had a nurse give me some booster when I was 15 and she used the type of needle they use for babies so i’d feel it less and I even felt that. The worst injection I’ve had, by far, was the BCG – I think we can all agree on that one. I literally hardly felt this one. I did feel it, much to the disbelief of the doctor, but it didn’t really hurt. I can’t explain to people enough that needles could literally be painless and I’d still be afraid of them, it’s not about the pain though that makes it worse, it’s about breaking my skin barrier. My skin is my number one line of defence, I hate the idea it’s so easily penetrable! I may have some ~issues~ after a childhood of being made to have needles. Even when I was told it was my decision, it wasn’t really because there was only ever one right answer.

Anyway, so the doctor mentioned side effects. He said unfortunately, it was people my age who get the worst of it and the older people get through it better. I could have some cold or flu like symptoms, or could be absolutely miserable for the next 2 to 3 days. He said just keep thinking, by Saturday, it should be over. If I felt unwell, go to bed and take paracetamol, if I felt really unwell, go to bed, take paracemtamol and don’t even try to do anything until I felt better.

Well. We got home and I didn’t feel too bad. I mean, I was panicking a bit over every ache and pain I had thinking it was a side effect but I literally have chronic pain, so, that was just a case of me being silly and disabled. And then 7 o’clock hit. I got a migraine. I went to bed for a couple of hours. I couldn’t sleep, but the dark room helped. And then I started feeling *rough*.

And it was all downhill from there. My throat got really sore, I got a high temprature, allodynia, and body aches. I don’t know if this was a side effect but I kept needing to pee every hour, though I’m sure I hadn’t drunk that much to generate that much urine. And then I started uncontrollably crying. Is that a side effect or was it a sudden onset of a depressive episode? That was my whole night in a nutshell. I barely slept. I spent the night being too hot, too cold, couldn’t tolerate the duvet, was too cold without, in agony, getting up to pee and doing an old lady shuffle (think Julie Walters in the two soups skit) back and forth to the bathroom, my arm could barely weight bear me on my crutchers, and then just randomly start sobbing, lather rinse repeat. And then I managed to fall asleep, got about 2 hours, woke up desperate to pee and then got nausaes and dizzy.

My Dad told me I was best just going back to bed. The logistics of that endeavour was more complicated than he could fathom. Crutchers, needing to vomit, barely being able to walk, not enough support from my arms… These are problems I wouldn’t have if I actually lived in a full on wheelchair accessible flat. Or had a toilet in my room.

I started *vibrating*, it felt like I was having a panic attack. The only thing I could do was lie down flat on my back, arms away from my body lest I overboil from skin contact off my own body and wait for it to be over. All day I’ve been thinking “Better by Saturday. Better by Saturday. Better by Saturday. Sunday at the latest, but Better by Saturday.”

I threw up at 11 o’clock, but slowly made my way through a bowl of soup for dinner at 1pm, went back to bed, chocked on acid reflux, took some gaviscone and went to sleep for abour 3 hours. I honestly woke up feeling the best I’d felt in 24 hours.

It has slowly improved from there. I still have body aches, I’m still doing the old lady shuffle to the bathroom, but I had rice and steamed vegetables for tea. I also managed a biscuit so I could take more paracetamol. I’ve also haven’t randoly sobbed since half 2 this afternoon.

I’ll be going back to bed once I publish this.

And just for comparison, I asked my Dad how he’s been. “Yeah, I had a bit a headache, bit of a rough night, you know, but not too bad.”

I’m not sure which part of his night was “rough” consideirng the snoring I heard every time I went the loo, but sure.

Better by Saturday? Let’s see what tomorrow brings.

Making a list, Checking it twice…

Tuesday 23 February, 2021

I have, after a difficult time, become completely PA-less. And it’s always been difficult to hire a new PA, I couldn’t even fill the empty hours my PA left when she downsized her hours and actually arranged interviews for that role about 2 weeks before the pandemic kicked off. I mean, I was there where I do the interviews on the Monday, and a week later the whole building was closed, and a week and a few days later, the whole country was in lockdown. That was nearly a year ago.

So now here I am, there’s still a deadly virus out there, my only way to keep myself safe has been to cut down my calls to the basics, and I’m torn between going back to another agency – and that’s not a good experience outside of a pandemic, but I had to cancel the agency who was fulfilling some calls after we lost Mum, because I had carers pulling down their masks to speak to me, refusing to wash their hands because they’d just put new gloves on, which they’d put on outside my flat, and put them on without washing their hands, and telling me alllll about the fun they were having at their friends and family’s households without any care on how that’s exactly how you spread the virus.

I look outside the world through the window and I’m not confident that it’s got much better the longer this pandemic has gone on.

But being a Direct Payments Employer is not easy. As we already know, it can take months to actually hire someone, and there’s no HR department to turn to when problems crop up. So it’s with these things in mind I created a pro and con list.

Pro of Agency Con of Agency
A pro of having an agency is that usually you see calls being fulfilled within 2 weeks.
That means you’re not waiting a year to have a shower.
A con of having an agency is that you get your call fulfilled when the carer gets to you, not necessarily at the time you need or want.
A pro of having an agency is that you have someone to complain to if something goes wrong.A con of having an agency is that management can fob you off and problems don’t actually get dealt with.
A pro of having an agency is if you don’t like someone they send, you, supposedly, can ask that they never return.A con of having an agency is the ineptness of a lot of the staff who don’t care about their job or the people in their care, and basic common sense stuff seems beyond them. (Do not turn off the shower whilst I’m mid-shower)
Another con is the high turnover of staff, meaning no consistency, awkward first meetings every couple of weeks, and going through the basics of what you need from them.
– What’s the 100th time for you is the 1st time for them-
Another con is when agencies become short staffed, that play disability Olympics and guilty you into accepting no calls.
I’m always the one with the unimportant calls.
If you’re sick and cancel a call, there’s a high chance the carer won’t get the message in time and turn up anyway.
Pro of Personal AssistantCon of Personal Assistant
The pro of having your own PA is you know who is coming to every call.The con of having your own PA is the hiring process can be extremely difficult and take months. Who wants to go months without a shower and their bedding changed?
The pro of having your own PA is you decide your own hours with your budget. If they can’t fulfill your hours and they’re reasonable hours, you don’t hire them.The con of having your own PA is when problems start to creep in after you hire them, you’re on your own.
The pro of having your own PA is you can set out from the beginning what is expected of them.The con of having your own PA is trying to figure out what they say to get the job Vs what they are capable of doing after being hired.
The pro of having your own PA is direct communication. If you’re sick and need to cancel the call, you just text your PA and let them know not to come that day.The con of having your own PA is when they fight against the hierarchy of power and start expecting to be informed on smaller details which shouldn’t affect the time of the call.
– The call is an hour long but they say things like “you should have told me you wanted your hair washing today” even though it’s an hour either way, or they turn up very early and you’re not in because you’re out at the cinema, and “You should have told me you would be at the cinema”. No, the PA should arrive at the time expected.
The pro of having your own PA is you interview your own people and have your own standards that they have to meet.A con is the legal liability of having people working in your home. If anything goes, the blame wrong lays with you. You have to be your own HR department, OT department and Admin Team, and communicate with an insurance company.
Another con is nobody respects direct payments PAs, many places expect proof of ID if you need a carer with you, but there is no ID a Direct Payments employer can provide.
The con of having your own PA is that it’s on you to ensure ppe and training is provided (if needed) and kept up to date.

I mean looking at that, neither option really shines through.

Are there any factors I’m missing, here?

How do you solve a problem like the smart phone industry?

Thursday 18 February, 2021

My phone is dying. Again.

I’ve got an iPhone 7 and I bought it second hand in 2019, very good quality guaranteed, with a 6 month warranty on it. Almost 6 months later, around about this time last year, just after losing mum, just as the epidemic was becoming a pandemic but before lockdown, the screen went blank and would not come back on.

After a bit of a faff, I sent it off for repair under warranty and a week later got it back repaired. Then seven months later, November last year, the battery died and I had to send it off to repair again, and pay for the privilege. To be fair, my phone was back with me within the 7 day time frame.

But here we are again, just months after the last repair, facing battery health failure, with apps randomly closing on me and, weirdly, sometimes missing calls because it lowers it’s own volume to really, really low. Dr Internet tells me this is a memory problem, conspiracy tech wizards tell me it’s Apple deliberately making the phone act dysfunctional and also Apple updating the apps to run beyond the capacity of the battery. And a quick browser search about Batteries shows that once a battery starts dropping quality, you get n into a vicious cycle. You need to charge your phone more, but charging it more frequently means it’s power cycling more frequently, and doing more damage to the capacity of the battery. Neat!

I’ve tried the usual fixes, or if not fixes then tricks to stave off battery death as long as possible, and this is still the outcome.

So clearly my options are either send it for another repair or buy a whole new phone. And I’ve got to say, I’m leaning towards the latter. But… It’s not that easy.

I’ve got small hands, I can’t just buy any new good model on the market within my price range, I need to be able to hold it comfortably! I had the galaxy S4 mini and that was just a bit too wide in my hand for me to hold, and when I got the slimmer Iphone 5s it was perfect and I felt like I should have just got that in the first place, but unfortunately when the big update was coming through that finish off a bunch of apps, i didn’t want to risk having a smart phone that wasn’t so smart, so I upgraded to the 7. It is just on the brink of comfort. Noticeably bigger than the 5s but not as big and awkward to hold as the galaxy S4 mini.

I don’t think I want to continue on with the iPhone family. I know there’s the iPhone 12 mini and that the size is perfect, but I’m not too fond of the company. I mean I never was, I bought the phone out of necessity, and same with the 7; But just how long will I be able to use the next phone before Apple decide it’s too old to support, too old for their brand and do something to make it unusable?

One of my friends has a Pixel. It sounds like a nice, reliable phone, but all Pixels are too wide for me to hold.

I am not too sure about them, but I did consider maybe a second hand Huawei. Because despite what my parents thought, the tech being second hand isn’t automatically the problem here. But even if I could see past it’s questionable reputation, and dodgy description of awe-inspiring zooms when you take into account actual zoom Vs digital zoom (aka cropping), I’m still stuck on the size aspect. I looked at videos which compared the p8 lite, p9, p10, p20, p30 and one of the Ys, all to the iPhone 7, and they were all just too wide.

I wouldn’t consider a Windows Phone unless I was being paid considerably, and that would have to be on a wage, not just a one off lump sum.

And I don’t think it really leaves any other smart phones, does it?

So I considered a Nokia. Did you know that a couple of years ago, Nokia released an updated version of their old inside classic 3310? I never had one but not for lack of interest. Well these new sleek, updated versions are lovely little things and come in a few different colours for a reasonable price of £49.99. And in all honestly, I recently bought a tablet (which makes the phone situation even worse because my phone use has gone down with using the tablet, and it’s sitting there needing to be charged twice a day!) so that means most of the smart phone stuff has been done on that instead. So really, how much do I need a smart phone anyway?

I’ll probably be given this answer when the pandemic is over, when I’ll leave the house and remember exactly what I used my smart phone for, because for the last year, it hasn’t been used for more than music and Instagram “forever scrolling”.

Camera? I have a camera, it’s been a bit neglected over the last couple of years, but I do have one. Music? Well… Yeah actually, I have my mum’s iPod and I wouldn’t mind going back to that, I suppose, as long as Apple don’t kill it off through having to hook it up to iTunes to put music on it. But also…

I remember my Walkman Phone very fondly… I havent needed an additional source of music alongsides my phone since I bought that little thing, apart from the few months between phones, when I went back to a little basic 9pad phone that didn’t take music, (Or have internet, or even have a camera) and had a few hospital appointments, so I borrowed my mum’s iPod until I got the iPhone 5s. And by coincidence, someone had reviewed the updated 3310, and after watching the review for that, the next one was their review of the 5310 aka the Nokia phone that had dedicated media player buttons.

And I have to say, the temptation to replace my smart phone with some retro inspired non-smart tech is very very high. I mean I’m 90% here, that when I can’t keep going on with the iPhone 7, I will buy this Nokia 5310. The only thing stopping me is the bloody 9pad.

I can’t stand 9pad and I changed over to a BlackBerry as soon as I could afford to, so that I didn’t have to deal with one ever again. And I loved the BlackBerry phones I had! The first one, 8900, was a full expensive one, the second one, an 8310, was a refurbished one. It was amazing! There might have have been a character limit in the texts but if there was, I never reached it! My only limit was my Tarrif. I think it came with 300 texts, and 5 texts would pay for a photo message. They were a bit chunky in the hand but I think it was the shape and maybe the weight of it that made it easy to hold.

The few times I’ve had to go back to my little basic phone with the 9pad, I’ve quickly remembered how that’s the one drawback of a basic phone, and returned to the smart phone ASAP so that I didn’t have to deal with it anymore.

I looked into what we’ve got in the market these days for full Qwerty keyboard phones, which aren’t part of touchscreen, and unfortubately there’s not much. There’s the latest blackberry’s, and that’s it. Back in the 00s, integrated qwerty keyboards you could slide out or pull out were all the rage, but the touchscreen market was too big a competition for them, and they became outdated and unwanted.

Except I’m writing this in 2021 wishing for them to make a comeback, because they are not unwanted. I want one! It would be perfect. The slim build of a 00s clamshell phone with a full on qwerty keyboard that slides out!

I think my only hope is waiting to see if Nokia bring out an updated version of one of their’s, in their quest to bring us back the old favourites, but whether my iPhone can last that long is anyone’s guess.