Monday, 31 August 2009

On Monday I ...

... slept all night and for most of the morning without having taken any medication to cause it to happen.

... finished knitting a sock that I started a couple of weeks ago; I still have to knit the other one to make a pair.

... started knitting a new shawl; it's circular in shape and will have 730 stitches to the row by the time that I have finished increasing.

... watched a few DVDs: Star Trek - The Motion Picture, Nanny McPhee, The Dam Busters and I shall watch another one before I go to bed.

... had my last day aged 54.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

It's A Job That I Really Hate

I've spent much of today working on the Flower Garden Shawl. Most of the squares are now joined to it (11 that still need to be added) but in most cases only joined by one or two sides. This means that there are still a lot of joins to be made.

In an email earlier today, There and Back asked me when she was going to get to see some photographs of the shawl now that it is starting to take shape. The problem is that it isn't really a pretty sight at the moment so I wasn't going to take photographs of it yet. But I thought, what the heck; you might as well see what the back of it looks like because it may be a while before I have done all the finishing bits so that the front can be photographed.

There are lots of ends still to be woven in or to be trimmed and still 11 squares to be joined onto the shawl. If things go well tonight I may be able to get all those things done, then I will only have to do the border crocheting to finish the shawl completely. The joining together and the weaving in of ends is a job that I really hate. If I could just do the knitting or crocheting I would be very happy, but at the end of each project there is the finishing off to be done and that can be a real pain, sometimes taking as long or longer than the creating part of the project. But, like they say about exercise, there's no gain without pain, and so it is with my handicrafts, unless I do the parts of the project that I hate they will never be finished.

Once it is completed I will have to get someone to take a photograph of me wearing the shawl so that it can be seen in all its glory.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

A Boring Day, But I Survived It

Today seems to have disappeared without me actually achieving anything much. I woke at about 5.30am but knew that it was far too early to get up so managed to convince myself that I could get back to sleep again. I will admit that I took some medication to help me sleep last night so I knew that dropping off again was a real possibility.

I woke again about 10.30am, made myself some breakfast, got some bits and pieces out of the freezer to tide me over the weekend, and sat down to check my emails and read a few blogs.

Sleep was still something that I thought I needed but I knew that I needed to get the most important chores done first. Once they were out of the way, the rest of the day would be my own. My Saturdays are for relaxing, if at all possible, and I didn't really have the energy or the enthusiasm for anything too taxing.

The first exciting (or not) job that I gave myself today was to sort out the problem that I had with one of the scarves that I am knitting. I made a mistake a couple of days ago and it required me to unpick a few rows to put everything right again. So having unpicked about 10 rows stitch by stitch I eventually go back to where I had made the error and then reknitted some of those rows so that whenever I decide to do some more work on that particular scarf I know that everything will be okay with it.

The next job was to sort out the squares for the Flower Garden Shawl. I wrote last week about having made all 64 of the squares necessary for this shawl, but having completed them I realised that I probably had enough wool to add another complete row to the shawl so yesterday I decided to crochet another 21 squares, and because I now know the pattern by heart and can crochet each one in less that 15 minutes, it didn't take me long to create the extra squares and add them to the pile. This meant that this afternoon I could sit down with all 85 squares and do a little sorting out. Most of the squares are a combination of two or three different colours, but because of the way that the wool is dyed there was a tendency for a number of the squares to turn out to be completely gingery brown and it was important that these get spread around the shawl as much as possible so the first job was to pull out and place in a separate pile all of the ginger squares. Once that was done it was simply a case of selecting 13 squares and then joining them together in a V-shape so as to form the first row of the shawl. While selecting the squares took seconds, joining them was much slower but an hour or so later the job was finished.

Having completed the first row, I decided to select the 15 squares needed for the second row and then to lay them out alongside the completed first row to see how they could be put together. While doing all this, I was also half watching a DVD (Out of Africa). The problem was that I don't remember much of the film because after what was probably only about 15 minutes of it I dropped off to sleep and didn't wake up until about three hours had passed.

Since waking again I have done some more work on the shawl. More than half of the second row's squares have been joined to the first row, although they still need to be joined to each other. I have also had something to eat, and watched a programme on BBC iPlayer. I have read a few blogs, and I decided to sit down to write a little about my day.

I haven't achieved much today, but what I have achieved has all been good and worthwhile. Depression so often robs me of the ability to do even the simplest things that to achieve anything at all can seem like winning an Olympic medal. I've found myself crying at odd moments for no apparent reason, I have collapsed into sleep because my body needed it and for a moment my brain was still enough to allow it to happen, I have managed to force myself to eat some food at regular intervals through the day and made sure that I had plenty to drink, none of it alcoholic.

It might not be much, but I am quite happy with what I have managed to do today. It is living one day at a time that has enabled me to get through the last 11 years and it is what will hopefully keep me going for a long time yet.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Off To The Doctor's

It was off to see my GP for my monthly mood check this morning. I know that it was only last Friday that I saw a doctor, but that wasn't to see my usual one who does my monthly checks and makes sure that I am not getting suicidal.

We talked about how this is a difficult time of year for me and what I was doing to try to cope with the depression. I talked about living one day at a time and how even the lovely day that I have planned for next Wednesday isn't helping very much at the moment. I am sure that when Wednesday arrives I shall be much better. Spending time with There and Back is always great and we have the added bonus of our visit to the theatre to enjoy.

We also talked about the sore area that I have on my nose, which was one of the main reasons why I had to make an appointment to see one of the doctors last Friday. It has been there for almost a month now, is getting no better, is still very sore and wearing my glasses is very painful. My regular GP is a bit worried about it, so he has referred me to see a dermatologist under the 'two-week rule'. I think it is the fact that the area has a different texture to the other side of my nose that is ringing alarm bells.

It is so nice to be able to have the continuity of care that I have. By seeing the same doctor each time, I don't have to constantly repeat all of the things that I have been through that have caused me to suffer so severely from depression and it makes it easy for a good record of how the depression gets bad and then improves to be maintained. The problem is that to most people who know me I am able to present a 'face' that seems to indicate that all is well. Very few people can see beyond that 'face' and dip into the turmoil that is in my mind.

Since I have been back home from the appointment, the wind has become very gusty. The curtains in the rooms with open windows are being blown all over the place and we have already had one torrential downpour although the sun is doing its best to shine at the moment.

Of course, it is a Bank Holiday weekend so we must expect some pretty awful weather. This is Britain after all

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

A Rough Time Of It

I'm finding things really difficult at the moment. Depression is taking it out of me. Although I am managing to get some sleep without the need to revert to drugs, it is not good sleep so I am waking each morning feeling pretty awful.

I just want the next couple of weeks to pass so that I can try to get on with my life again. It's hard summoning up the enthusiasm and the energy to do anything other than to sit around and today I couldn't even face leaving the house.

Concentration is something that I can't manage for more than a few minutes so reading a book has become a nightmare. I keep reading the same page over and over again and I still don't know what I have read.

Sometimes I hate my life so much I wonder why I carry on.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

When I've Done 64

Well, I have. So now I have got to do a job that I really hate doing and that is darning in all the ends.

The real fun and games will begin when I start to decide on a layout for the squares so that I avoid putting squares of similar colours too close together.

This shawl is coming together nicely.

Monday, 24 August 2009

It's A Square World

It started with one square
then there were five squares, and I have been adding to the number each day so that now I am working on the 35th one. They're not your usual 'granny' squares as they have the appearance of containing flower petals so it was obvious that the shawl pattern that I am following should be called the 'Flower Garden Shawl'.I have to make 64 squares in all, and they will each be different because of the way that the wool that I am using changes colour. The colour changes are not the same in each ball adding to multicolour effect. Once I have crocheted all 64, I will have to darn in the ends, block each one so that it is square (no matter how hard you try you can never get them even when you are working them) and once blocked they will have to be crocheted together.

The finishing touch is a few rounds of crochet around the complete shawl. I am sure that it will look lovely and will certainly keep me warm on those cold winter days.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Another Night Of Sleep

I managed another mammoth sleep last night. Well, to be precise from the early hours of the morning until lunch time, but I feel a bit more human again after sleeping so well on consecutive nights.

I still feel depressed, but I know that eventually that will pass. So today I have dabbled in a little bit of knitting, a little bit of crocheting, and a lot of time spent trying to keep my eyes open so that I don't drop off to sleep again.

In about an hour's time I shall take myself off to bed and try to get to sleep naturally; that is without the aid of medication. It may happen, it may not, but I do know that even if I don't sleep the whole night through I won't be feeling as bad as I did on Friday morning.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Sleeping For England

After more than a week with little or no sleep at night, yesterday evening I took the medication that I got from my GP went to bed at about 7.30pm and was asleep very quickly. I slept through the night, except for a couple of calls of nature, and I slept through the morning and eventually woke up about half an hour ago.

I am still very sleepy from the tablets, and I am definitely not in a fit state to drive or operate machinery, but I shall get myself something to eat, sort out a DVD to watch, and have an afternoon with my knitting.

I hate it when depression robs me of the ability to sleep. I can usually continue to operate in a normal way for a week or so before I know that I have to resort to some sort of medication to help me. The problem with the additional medication is that it robs me of the ability to do anything meaningful for the first few days that I take it. I remain woozy for hours after I have woken up and nothing is very easy to achieve, even the simplest task.

The next couple of weeks are undoubtedly going to be difficult for me. I shall continue to do whatever I can to maintain a normal life (or what passes for normal for me) and try to ensure that I eat something everyday and sleep at least for a few hours every night. I know that this horrible darkness will pass and I will survive to come out the other side. After all, I have done it so many times over the last 11 years.

Friday, 21 August 2009

What A Relief

I have spent all of this morning in GP's surgeries. First thing this morning I went to my GP's surgery to see if I could get an appointment to see a doctor because I had a very sore area on my nose exactly where one of the nose pads on my glasses sits. I was lucky and managed to get an early appointment that fitted in well with my other task of the day, going back to the GP's surgery where I had been fitted with the ambulatory blood pressure monitor.

I found that I coped pretty well with the machine operating every half hour yesterday. The bleep would alert me that a reading was about to be taken so that I could stop what I was doing and make sure that my arm was still when it was being taken. At 10pm hourly readings started to be taken. The change in timings is because normally at night you do not experience the wide fluctuations that you do during the day, and it is also so that you stand the chance of getting some sleep.

Unfortunately, I have been have a bad week and sleep has not been easy. I am heading towards what is for me probably the most difficult week of the year. It is the week that includes my birthday followed a few days later the anniversary of my husband's death. Even though I have a nice treat (my trip to the theatre with There and Back) programmed into this period, and a day at the Department of Health talking about the benefits of patients having access to their medical records, and in particular for this seminar their pathology results, without consciously thinking about the two difficult dates, my mood has slumped and I am experiencing a severe depressive period. Last night I didn't manage a minute of sleep, although I did lie down and tried to relax as best that I could so as to not slew the blood pressure readings too much.

So after a sleepless night, and with a nose that is so sore that wearing my glasses is almost impossible even though I am blind as a bat without them, I went to my GP's surgery and got a prescription for an antibiotic cream for what appears to be an infection in the skin on my nose and another for some anti-depressants that have a sedative effect to be taken at night (I normally have some at home but I used the last of them up a few weeks ago and I am now so desperate for sleep that I had to get some more) in addition to the others that I take each morning.

After seeing my GP, it was off to the chemist to get the prescriptions filled, and then of to the bus stop to get the first of the buses that I needed to catch to get to the surgery where I had been fitted with the blood pressure monitor so that I could return it for the readings to be downloaded. I was lucky because I didn't have to wait long for either of the buses, and the final reading was taken shortly after I had got off the bus and was walking down the road to the surgery. Five minutes after the last reading, I managed to disentangle myself from the arm cuff, the belt holding the monitor itself, and what seemed like miles of rubber tubing that connected the two together, and then hand it back in at reception.

What a relief to have that thing off my arm. Almost two hours later the marks from the cuff are starting to disappear and I am getting full feeling back in my left arm. Now I have to wait for the results to arrive at my GP's surgery so that we can look at the results and see whether I do indeed have a problem with steadily rising blood pressure, whether my very high pulse rate is a regular occurrence or just an occasional thing, and decisions can be made about what treatment, if any, is necessary.

And I may have a nap this afternoon.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

I'm Wired For Sound

I'm not really, but I am hooked up to an ambulatory blood pressure monitor for 24 hours. My blood pressure has been a bit on the high side recently when my GP has checked it even though I am on medication for it, albeit a low dose. However, what was more worrying was the fact that I seem to have a very high pulse rate even when I am at rest. The net result of this is 24 hours hooked up to this machine which takes my blood pressure every 30 minutes.

Unfortunately my GP's surgery does not have one of these machines so I had to go to another surgery in the area. The reception staff there were very helpful, both when I phoned to make the appointment and again today, and the practice nurse who fitted me with the monitor was very friendly and helpful too.

So for the next 24 hours I will hear the occasional bleep, the cuff on my arm will inflate, I will undoubtedly get pins and needles in my hand, and then the cuff will gently deflate once the reading has been taken. In the meantime I am supposed to carry on with all the normal things that I would be doing, which this afternoon will include a little bit of crocheting because I had a new delivery of yarn this morning and I am going to make a shawl out of granny-style squares, although these are a little different in that they have the appearance of a flower at their centre and the yarn is variegated in colour so the shawl is called the Flower Garden Shawl (but I'm not doing it in the colours shown on the pattern). Once I have a few squares finished I shall photograph them and add them to the blog so that you can see how each of the squares looks different to the others even though they are all being made from the same yarn.

Monday, 17 August 2009

A Bit Of A Change

Some time ago There and Back and I discussed the possibility of going to the theatre together on the next occasion that we met. We had decided that we would go to see Les Miserables and over the weekend we decided on the date for this adventure. The big day is to be 2nd September.

So today I got on a bus and went to Theatreland to book our seats. I have seen this fabulous musical at least three times already, but not for at least 12 years, and in the intervening period it has moved to a different theatre. This meant that I had to find the theatre, which proved to be really easy with my trusty little London A-Z, and having got the tickets in my hot little hand I decided to treat myself to lunch and a bit of a wander around this part of London.

The wandering took me to Leicester Square, the home of the Odeon and the Empire, the cinemas that are most often used for big film premières. The Empire was the first theatre in London (and therefore probably in this country) to show a motion picture in 1896. Among the films that it was showing today was Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.

Yes, you've guessed it. I spent this afternoon in the cinema. This is the first time that I have been to a cinema for about four years and it was nice to while away a few hours watching a film on a large screen. I was a little disappointed that some of the best bits in the book hadn't made it to the screen, but that didn't stop me from enjoying my afternoon's entertainment.

So having had a day out, I am now sitting at home thinking about all of the things that I really should have done, but haven't because I escaped for the day. Still, they say a change is as good as a rest, and today was certainly a change. Now I just have to wait for 2nd September to arrive so that I can be transported to 18th Century Paris and be able to listen to the music and watch a show that I love.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

... Cockle Shells All In A Row

Yesterday I took a break from knitting one or other of the scarves that I have on the go in order to do a test sample of the 'cockle shell' pattern using a slightly heavier weight of yarn and to determine what size of needles I would need to use for it. The test turned out to be very successful and I am now going to use the pattern to make a scarf in this other wool at some point in the future.

One of the benefits of using the yarn that I did for the sample was that it made it much easier to see the cockle shells, so I have included a photograph for you to see what is not quite so apparent in the scarf that I am knitting in the very pale wool.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Christmas Present Update

Scarf No 2 was started yesterday and is progressing nicely. It's about 7 inches long at the moment and will be in excess of 60 inches when completed. The scarf has a very simple 2-row pattern so it grows quite quickly (it is also rather boring at times) so it is great for working on when I am watching a DVD.This afternoon I decided to start Scarf No 3. This is a totally different kettle of fish because the pattern is so complex it requires watching at every move; however, this means that it is great to work on when listening to music. Since this photograph was taken I have completed another pattern repeat so it is now about 4 inches in length. This scarf is somewhat different to the others in that it is knitted in two halves and they are then grafted together when the halves are completed. This means that when it is blocked, points can be formed from the 'cockle shell' motifs at both ends of the scarf.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

First Christmas Present Done!

Earlier this evening I finished knitting the first of the Christmas presents that will need to be sent to Canada. There is still work to be done on it (blocking it to its final dimensions) but the hard work is completed.

The scarf ended up being 66 inches in length so after blocking it should be a few inches longer, probably about 70 inches, and it should be about 8 inches in width. Having tried it out for size when I had finished it, I can say that it will wrap around neck and ears and do a good job of keeping them warm.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Fluff Up My Nose

The lace scarf is progressing well and is now more than 30 inches in length. Because the yarn is hand-dyed there is no regular repetition of the colours throughout the hank of yarn and the scarf is therefore full of little patches of the various colours. This particular yarn is a mixture of greens, yellow, pink, peach and a touch of lilac, which is creating a lovely effect. I know that if I were to knit another scarf using the same colourway and the same pattern the two scarves would look totally different because of the hand-dying techniques and I think that it is this that makes me love these hand-dyed yarns so much.

There are, however, drawbacks to the yarn that I am using at the moment. It is a joy to knit with because it is so soft, but being made from alpaca it does have lots of very fine loose hairs that float around in the air and land on my clothes and the furniture while I am knitting. But worse than this, are the hairs that keep finding their way up my nose, causing occasional tickles and sometimes bouts of sneezing.

But none of these drawbacks have stopped me from ordering some more in a variety of colourways to make some more of my Christmas presents.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Something Lacy

After finishing the socks I was going to knit another pair (I have yarn for at least 5 more pairs in my stash), this time using a different pattern, but I decided that I needed to get to work on some of the Christmas presents that I am making for my 'other family' in Canada. I have decided that the ladies might each like a hand-knitted lace scarf and as these take a bit longer than a pair of socks to knit I knew that I ought to get started. I have yarn for four scarves already put by so all I needed to do was find some patterns. I had a number of patterns in mind but it was very difficult to choose which one to make; however the decision was made and I started knitting but, as is always the way when I am using very fine yarn, each time I got started I ended up dropping stitches and because the scarf was only a few rows in length, the stitch would drop all the way down and I would have to unpick the work and start again. I began to think that this was going to be as difficult as the Shetland lace shawl that I made at the beginning of the year, but I decided to try a different pattern and this time I had a little more success.

I have two hanks of each of the two colourways in the above photograph, which will be enough for four nice long lacy scarves. The yarn is a very fine and soft alpaca so I have had to stop wearing dark coloured tops while I am knitting with it because it looks as though I have been sitting with a cat on my chest after an evening's work. But having found a suitable pattern, the first scarf is growing quite nicely now and measures approximately 10 inches at the moment and at a guess the finished scarf will be something over 60 inches in length.It is very difficult to determine the lace pattern at the moment because the knitting is so springy, but once the scarf is finished and has been blocked (this means soaking it in cool water so that all the fibres are wet and then squeezing out as much water as possible before stretching the scarf to its finished dimensions and then leaving it to dry) the pattern should be somewhat clearer. It is supposed to look like a series of tumbling leaves and hopefully blocking the scarf will make the pattern show up, but even if it isn't as clear as it might be in a slightly thicker laceweight yarn, it will be very warm and soft around the neck. Something that will be nice to have for the cold Canadian winters.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Friday, 7 August 2009

One Down ...

... and one to go.

A Drowned Rat

Yesterday was not a good day for me. It would have been my Dad's 85th birthday and birthdays and anniversaries are never good days. To make things worse, my Dad was a twin, and his twin sister, who is also my Godmother, lives thousands of miles away in South Africa so my phone call to her to wish her a Happy Birthday is always a difficult event for both of us.

I had decided earlier in the day that I would go out for a meal to a local Italian restaurant in order to try to do something nice on this difficult day. I haven't been out for a meal (apart from the occasional lunch with friends) for more than a year and I knew that the food would be good and with the walk to the restaurant less than 10 minutes, it was not going to mean travelling far.

I got myself ready to go out and the rain started. It wasn't just a shower; it was a torrential downpour but there was no way that I was going to miss out on my evening out. I'm still having to use a walking stick to help me get about at the moment and the thought of trying to manage an umbrella too was more than I could cope with, so I put on my waterproof jacket (which in addition to having a hood actually extends almost down to my knees) and decided to brave the weather. I was about half way there when the rain, which was already beating down quite hard, became something akin to the monsoon. The rain was bouncing off the ground and rivers of rainwater were flowing down both the road and the pavement I live in an area that is rather hilly).

By the time that I arrived at the restaurant I felt like a drowned rat. Water was dripping off my jacket and the legs of my trousers were soaked. However, I was determined that I would do my best to enjoy my all too rare evening out and decided that I would try to forget how wet I was and how depressed I have been over the last few weeks. I received a friendly welcome and the food was superb.

By the time that I had finished my meal of garlic mushrooms, fillet steak in a green peppercorn sauce, and profiteroles (to hell with eating healthily for one evening) the rain had eased a little, but it was still pouring down sufficiently for me to realise that I was going to get wetter on the way home. My trousers were still soaking wet and I knew that they were going to be absorbing more water on that short walk home.

I arrived home in a jacket which seemed to have lost the battle as far as keeping me dry was concerned. So once I was indoors I took off all my soaking wet clothes and wrapped myself up in my lovely warm dressing gown. The clothes were hung up to dry and I decided to watch a DVD or two before going to bed.

By that time I didn't look quite so much like a drowned rat.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

I Know I Shouldn't Have ...

... but having managed to get the knitting needles that I wanted when I went to the local knitting wool shop I had to start knitting a sock.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

A Quick Update On The Knitting (And Crochet)

I have been crocheting another scarf like the one that I showed you all the other day. This time the wool comprises a real rainbow of colours rather than just being the blue/green/purple combination of the previous example. The photograph below shows it in its early stages and it is now almost complete, but I needed a change from crocheting which can be a bit hard on my wrist, so it has been put away for a few days and I am back to knitting.
I have written before about how I like to have several projects on the go at the same time so that I don't get bored with what I am working on. Last week I bought a book entitled Victorian Lace Today, which includes a number of patterns from Victorian times which have been updated or comprise elements from several different pattern designers from those times. The scarf below is being knitted using a pattern from 1847 and it is progressing slowly but steadily as I try to complete one complete of the pattern each day, although I have to admit that I haven't done any of it for a couple of days because I have been working on something else.
I have been taking a break from the scarf to work on the shawl shown below. Instead of using very fine laceweight wool, this shawl is a little more substantial and is made using some sock yarn that I bought for another project, but once I started knitting it I didn't like the finished article so I unpicked it and the wool was available for something else. That something else has turned out to be a half-hexagon shawl which is progressing well. I have finished the first two pattern charts and I am now on the second repeat (of five) of the third pattern chart for this shawl. While the top of the shawl is quite substantial having very little in the way of lace patterning in it (this should mean that it will sit on the shoulders well and be warmer than something that is completely lacy), the second and third pattern charts are much more lacy in appearance and as the size of needle used increases as the shawl progresses the lower parts will be more flowing. With 45 more rows to be knitted and then a complex cast off which involves the use of a crochet hook as well as the knitting needle, the shawl won't be finished tomorrow but the weekend should see its completion.
I am then going to start knitting some socks, something that I haven't done for a number of years, but there are so many lovely sock yarns available these days and an incredible number of sock patterns, I am rather looking forward to working on them in the coming weeks. All I have to do now is make sure that I have the needles in the sizes that I require and then I can start to use some of my stash of sock wool that has been building up over the last few weeks. One thing is for certain, I am going to have nice warm feet this winter.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Still In The Land Of The Living

Life has been a little difficult over the last few weeks and it has affected me so much that I haven't even had the enthusiasm to blog, but I have been thinking about it and today I have decided to do something about it. I was going to venture into the garden this morning to do battle with some of my overgrown shrubs, but rain has stopped play (actually it started before I even managed to get out of the back door) so I shall write something for the blog instead.

Last Wednesday I gave a presentation about patients having access to their GP medical records online to some of the members of the local PCT. The seminar was arranged by 'B' who used to be my GP until his retirement from full-time practice last year. We are doing an increasing number of these presentations and as he is on the local PCT it was only a matter of time before I was asked to make a presentation to them. I was to be the 'star turn' at the seminar which was held at the local Town Hall and, more interestingly, in the actual Council Chamber.

The presentation went well and there were lots of questions afterwards; the rest of the seminar proved to be very interesting too. One of the outcomes of the seminar is that the PCT is to try to ensure that all GP practices within the PCT provide any patient that requires it with online access to their records. My practice was the first in the country to do this, and any practice in the country which uses a particular application for the management of patient records (this is about 60% of them, and all but one practice in the local PCT) can provide this access today at no cost to either the practice or the patient. As a result of discussions after the seminar it is possible that I may be involved in visiting all the practices in the PCT to talk to them about using this facility and encouraging them in giving their patients the same access that I enjoy.

There are a number of benefits in having access to my medical records, as well as the ability to book appointments online and to order repeat prescriptions by this method too. Visits to outpatient clinics always require you to give details of current medication and of previous illnesses, operations, and dates when symptoms occurred. In the past this has tended to be guess work for some of these things, but this is no longer the case for me as I can make a list of all the information that I am likely to be asked for, and should I be asked for some information that I do not have to hand I can access it easily while at the outpatient clinic if there is a computer to hand.

This government has wasted billions of pounds trying to develop 'Connecting for Health' which is intended to serve a similar purpose for the whole of the NHS. It is a shame that they didn't look at what was already being achieved in one part of the NHS and build on that instead of starting from scratch on a system that has cost so much money and which is felt by many to be insecure.