Saturday, 1 October 2016

Avoid middle ear infections if you can!!

A month ago I became aware of a hissing sound in my ear - not particularly loud but loud enough to be annoying. This was on a Wednesday. I phoned the local National Health Service practice and was surprised - to say the least - that the first available appointment with any doctor was 5 days later.

And so the merry-go-round of misdiagnosis and waiting for treatment started. The people I met were pleasant enough but the system, to be blunt, sucks!

The first two doctors didn't listen when I explained my symptoms. As soon as I said noises in the ear each became fixated on ear wax and then on tinnitus and both seemed to filter out all that I told them about how the ringing almost always only started when I lay down. I could be noise free all day but within 30 seconds of lying down the noises would start. I could also usually eliminate all or part of the noise by blowing my nose.

I ended up with a blood-pressure monitor for a week. My blood pressure was slightly raised - yes by the stress resulting from not sleeping due the noises in my ear. Assorted blood tests proved negative and a trip to the not-very-local hospital to have my hearing checked proved that my hearing was excellent.

At this stage, about 3 weeks into the story, I hadn't had any treatment or any evidence-based diagnosis. I was so fed up by now that I went back to the local medical practice. Doctor #3 was much better and gave me a steroid containing nasal spray that started to help almost at once by reducing the inflammation that was causing the noises in my ear. He also gave me something to help with my sleeping problems. Why did he do this? Because he listened to the fine detail of my problem!

September 2016 was one of the worst months of my adult life. I am gradually improving but it will take a while before I will feel relaxed about undertaking activities that had previously made the noises start or get louder. This erosion of confidence is not at all nice - nor easy to deal with!

Sunday, 25 September 2016

More on social history - South African Picture Postcards

As a former stamp collector the idea of conducting my hobby without the use of a full-colour priced catalogue would have seemed ridiculous. Many such catalogues are produced each year - ranging in scope from those covering the whole world in a highly simplified format to others covering the issues of a single country in great detail. It therefore came as a great surprise to me to discover that no catalogue had been produced covering the activities of the many postcard publishers who had been in business in South Africa in the early part of the twentieth century. Starting in the 1980's the now defunct Southern Africa Postcard Research Group (SAPRG) under the leadership of Aston (Archie) Atkinson published a number of preliminary checklists of publishers and the cards they had produced. It soon became clear that these lists, although admirable starting points, were far from complete and it was for this reason that I proposed the compilation and subsequent publication of the South African Picture Postcard Catalogue.
Both of these books are available from Amazon