Friday, December 14, 2012

Eyes and Stuff

As there has been a sudden Email interest in my health, I will answer all questions in one go:

1) No I am not about to croak.

2) Several readers have asked "What are the symptoms?" So far I have resisted the temptation to reply that they are a little yellow cartoon family on the telly. The truth is that I noticed a small dark grey patch in the bottom left corner when looking through my left eye which (for those of you who did not pay attention in biology) means that the retina has started to peel off in the top right corner. If  you notice the same effect, then go to your nearest hospital straight away. DO NOT EMAIL ME!

There, hopefully I've done my bit for the public's health.

3) How long did I have to wait? It's classed as an emergency, so they did the operation within 24 hours.

4) Local or General anaesthetic? It's up to the patient- the op. can be done under both. I had local and it's pretty weird. Not painful at all, but you have to be able to keep your mind focused on something else. The operation lasts an hour and then they put a bubble of gas in your eye to push against the retina to keep it in place. (Don't ask what the gas is- it annoys the surgeon).

3) Afterwards? You lie face down feeling sorry for yourself for an hour, wear a patch for a day and you can go home once the pressure in your eye is below 30. (Nobody knows what the units are and only people like me ever enquire). One in three suffer from elevated pressure in the eye for a while (which feels exactly as you'd imagine it would), but it's easily treated with eye drops. Don't forget to take the eye patch home with you for future Adam Ant/ Pirate dressing up amusement.

For ten days you have to maintain a certain position as much as possible in order to keep the gas bubble pushing in the right place- in my case I had to have my head upright during the day and sleep on my left side at night. (I had the easiest regime- some poor sods have to lie face downwards or on their side for the first ten days.) You take drops and tablets for a couple of weeks, which unfortunately don't have any interesting side effects. All your friends will be moderately sympathetic until they tire of you shouting "Who said that?" every time they ask how it's going.

Outcome? It's like looking through a bowl of water at first then the bubble gradually disappears from your vision over a few weeks and now I can see one between one and two lines less on an eyesight chart. This isn't a major problem as I wore contacts anyway, so I just get a new prescription. Apparently the vision may improve over the next six months or so. (Or so my optician hopes, so he can sell me another contact lens).

Anyway, that's it. Now that you have all convinced yourselves that you have a detached retina, I shall await the News at Ten report that every Eye Department across the Nation is under siege.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

NHS Bed Shortage

About six weeks ago, I had to go into hospital to have an operation on my left eye, as I had suffered a slight retinal tear. Worry not, as the procedure went well and the next day I was told by the surgeon that I could go home.

"Hoorah!" I thought and paid no attention to the rest of his sentence: "- just as soon as your drops and tablets have been sent up from the hospital pharmacy."

Four and a half hours later, they duly arrived. According to the nurses, there was nothing unusual in this timescale and they assured me that it was much worse at weekends, or Bank Holidays.

"You can be waiting 8 hours then!" One of them added cheerfully.

Several times during my long wait, I thought of simply going home and picking them up later. However I couldn't drive, so would have had to scrounge a lift. It would have been an hour's round trip and no, the staff can't phone you when your medicines are ready. So I stayed put, wondering how much my bed cost per hour.

I finally received my bag of drugs, said goodbye to the others in my little ward and as I walked out I could hear the man in the bed opposite me asking the nurse how much longer his prescriptions would be (He had already waited over three hours).

Bear this story in mind the next time you hear on the news about a hospital beds shortage.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Teachers' Pay

So a Government Education Minister has finally decided on the radical step of paying good teachers more than bad ones. Needless to say, everybody is up in arms.

Introducing any kind of real-world market forces into Teaching never goes down well. The Unions oppose it because they have to be seen to be opposing things, the hopeless teachers don't like it because they will get paid less and the good teachers say they oppose it in the staffroom, but are secretly delighted. The main objection is that 'it is too difficult'.

Bradley and Jordan from Year 9 have used that excuse in the past to great effect.

I'd go further and pay more to those who teach subjects for which we are short of teachers. The howls of protest would put a werewolf to shame.

Here's an story about a Saudi Arabian man who got a bit carried away with his love for education.

Finally, best of luck to my good pal Jez Bragg who is starting today on a 3000 km run along the Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand. It goes North to South across both islands and you can follow his progress on his blog  here and on Twitter here  (He is hoping to be able to pronounce the name of the route by the end of January)

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Student House Rental Sheffield

Well it's that time of year again, when students across the land start looking for houses for the next academic year. It seems to get earlier and earlier each year (I remember we didn't start looking until about Easter). If you happen to be lucky enough to be studying at Sheffield University and wish to avoid old fashioned, damp and mouldy houses then contact this guy who comes highly recommended from a friend

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Raspberry Pi

Having covered so many IT lessons which were simply typing by another name, the Raspberry Pi computer is like a breath of fresh air. Dirt cheap, easily programmable and you can muck about with it to your heart's content.

Here's a demonstration of how to use it as a simple web server. It won't be particularly practical but that's not the point. It enables kids to learn some useful skills and actually do something.

You can even make an Airplay receiver but I can't afford to fight Apple's lawyers so look it up yourself. Hook them up to other high tech stuff that is rapidly becoming cheaper such as miniature video cameras, GPS, 3D printers and motion sensing game controllers- the surface has barely been scratched. Private Schools have spotted the advantages enjoyed by pupils who can actually program and are ordering them at five times the rate of the State Sector.

This really is pioneering stuff and hopefully the next Steve Wozniak is furtively connecting dozens of them together in order to make a supercomputer in the back of a classroom near you.

Oh hang on I forgot- none of this is on the syllabus.