Episode 121. In which nobody will put it in writing.

Posted in Christmas, home with tags , , , on December 13, 2011 by Betsy

I am going home for Christmas. I can’t get the basic travel insurance you buy when you book your flights because I’m diabetic and that has to be ‘disclosed’ and buying insurance online doesn’t let you disclose things, it just lets you tick a box confirming there’s nothing to disclose.

But there is.

So I had to find travel insurance myself. I left it a bit late but not too late, because I was also moving house and having a mini breakdown and things, but I got it booked about a week and a half ago.

It turns out a lot of insurance doesn’t cover certain things if the trip covered only takes place within the UK, and since mine does, those policies were no use to me. I eventually thought, I know, I’ll try Natwest, they’re my bank anyway. I phoned up and although the guy I spoke to kept harping on about a thing which wasn’t the thing I asked about, he eventually said that would be covered. By that time my break was over soI said I’d call back another time to buy the policy.

My worry, you see, is that something will stop me from getting to the airport for my flight. Not that my flight will be cancelled or delayed, because I know if that happens then it’s the airline’s problem, they have to get me home one way or the other, and although not being insured might mean I’d miss out on my £2.34 per 12 hour period stipend or whatever, I could live without that. What I worry about is that the weather will turn bad while I’m at home and I will be snowed in, and I will not be able to get to the airport. That my flight will leave, early, late or on time, but that I won’t be on it, because I will be snowed in. So the insurance I wanted was for missed departure. I understand that this will require me to provide some kind of evidence that I tried, but I can do that.

What happened was that I was sent an insurance policy schedule and a policy document listing all the possible sections covered and what they’re all for. The section called Missed Departure is Section J.

Section J is the only section that does not appear on my policy schedule.

The first time I phoned up about this the guy started off by telling me I couldn’t just wait til it snowed then buy insurance because nobody would insure me if they already knew the thing was definitely going to happen. I pointed out that I knew this and that it was nearly 3 weeks til my flight, that I understand the point of insurance and that I was asking a specific question. He then spent ten minutes talking about how if the flight was cancelled the airline would have to get me home, and again, I explained that I understood this, and, again, it wasn’t what I was asking about. Eventually he seemed to catch on and said yes, that would be OK.

The next day I phoned up and bought the policy. I made my disclosure and paid my money and the policy was in place.

When the documents arrived, the schedule was missing section J. I called again and was told it must be a mistake, and they would send the documents again.

When the second set of documents arrived, the schedule was still missing section J. I called again and was told I would have to speak to Claims, who were closed on Saturdays.

I remembered hearing Claims on the automated menu options so I called again, went through to Claims, and spoke to some girl whose name I didn’t catch. She was very helpful. She couldn’t see why that section was missing, she seemed to understand what I was talking about, and she said she’d have to speak to Technical Underwriters for an answer. While I was on hold, we got cut off.

I called back and by some stroke of luck spoke to the same girl again. She said that Technical Underwriters had been unable to help in any way whatsoever and had suggested I call Sales again on Monday. Everyone wants me to call someone else on Monday. Anyway this girl said she would see what she could find out, because if the schedules were missing sections that would be a big thing and it would need investigating. She said she would call me back on Monday afternoon.

Monday afternoon has been and gone and now it’s nearly the end of Tuesday. I called again and was told that I was wrong, that Missed Departure was something else entirely, the woman seemed to think that it meant something to do with me not leaving enough time to get to the airport, which struck me as quite amazing, because what insurance company would seriously include cover of any kind for someone’s own stupidity? Anyway, she was certain that I was covered for missing my flight due to bad weather, because it was out of my control, and that comes under section G. But that they couldn’t send me any of this in writing because as far as they’re concerned it’s already in the policy documents. And in any case, all these calls are recorded. So that’s OK then.

I was on hold for about half an hour, so I have given up. Maybe I will go home and read Section G and it will all make sense. But if I do get snowed in and can’t make it to the airport, and I miss my flight, but it leaves without me, then you all are my witnesses, and this is my reminder. I called seven times to ask this question, and was told each time that I was covered.

If I am delayed and there is any question whatsoever of whether or not I am entitled to compensation, I will not be entering into negotiations or trying to convince anyone of anything.

I have been promised.

Seven times.

I am covered.

The end.


**worries to infinity**

Episode 120. In which I am a terrible blogger.

Posted in diabetes, Henry, home, inanimate objects, people, Uncategorized, weather on September 8, 2011 by Betsy

Forgive me, reader, for I have sinned. It’s been about nine months since my last blog post. A lot has happened in that time.

Let me just cut you off at the pass here and reassure you that babies do not feature in those 9 months. At all. Complete lack of babies. No babies here.

So let me try and bring you up to date, month by month. I apologise if I forget anything, but do keep in mind, I’m not a very good person.

December 2010. *stares at screen for ten minutes* Well this is a good start. What the hell did I do in December? Oh, I know what I did. I went to bed on Christmas Eve happy, and woke up on Christmas Day with a big ugly burn on my arm. I slept on my hot water bottle, you see. Which burned my arm so I had a big blister. Mister had to go out and borrow a bandage from the first aid kit at the pub. This led to my new years resolution, on which more will follow.

January 2011. I started a new blog, called Clumsy Diabetic. Basically I am cataloguing all my self-inflicted injuries, and counting my new scars. If I get five new scars this year, I will, get a tattoo. *spoiler alert: I have more than five new scars already.*

February 2011. I got a manicure. I know this is lame. But I did. Mister went away for a week and while he was gone I just pottered around, as one does, and then I went out and got a manicure. I went to Lanes Health and Beauty, and had a nice relaxing half an hour. It was pretty.

March 2011. We moved house! From a flat, into a house, actually. With a garden. I know! It’s lovely.

April 2011. I don’t remember what happened then. Presumably we unpacked and got settled into the new house, the new commute and all that.

May 2011. May kind of sucked, and kind of didn’t, but I mostly want to cry when I think about it.  Our awesome cat, Henry, loved by everyone who met him, the cat most like a person that I will ever meet, I am sure, got sick very quickly and died. It was devastating, I was broken, and it hurt. It still hurts. I feel like I let him down, like it’s my fault, like if only I could hold him it would all be ok again. But he’s gone, and it’s shit. After a while, because the house felt so empty, we went to the RSPCA to start the process of adopting another cat, and happened to fall in love with two, a brother and sister, who we somehow managed to adopt really quickly. We named them Margot and Jerry, collectively known as The Leadbetters.

June 2011. I had my birthday! Happy birthday, me, you’re 32 now. I had a lovely, lovely day in the Northern Lights Scandinavian bar in Brighton, where they gave me a free shot of some liqueur that smelled very strongly of Fisherman’s Friend. It took me all afternoon to drink it, including watering it down as much as possible, and I still handed the glass back with more in the dregs than there would have been had it been, say strawberry cheesecake flavoured liqueur.

July 2011. Well, July was good. In July I was unemployed for a week, after my contract ended at my job, then I got another job, at the same place, and was employed again. Permanent contract this time, which is reassuring. And then, at the end of the month, I met Caitlin Moran. I went to an event for her book, which is brilliant in case you didn’t know already, and waited afterwards to get her to sign my copy. Which she did, very graciously. And she recognised my name from Twitter. And I totally spazzed out, because I love her work and her book and her sense of humour, and even just my name taking up a micron of her brainspace is amazing.

August 2011. August was my man’s 40th birthday month. I got him presents he had asked for, and we had a kind of dinner party, where I cooked a bunch of tapas type stuff that turned out quite nicely. Later in the month my mum visited, which was brilliant, and I made her a roast dinner, all by myself. And even later in the month, I got a Touchpad. It was a late birthday present from mister, he really is far too good for me. 🙂

September 2011. And here we are. So far, the rest of the year is planned out as a bunch of brilliant things. In a couple of weeks my sister comes to stay for a week. In early October I have to go to a conference in London which means I get to spend an evening with my best friend. And then at the end of October she is coming to stay for a weekend. In November my best friend from high school might be down here from scotland for a conference, and I will get to hang out with her, which would be cool beyond words. And then at Christmas, mister and I are going to Scotland. The flights are booked and everything, we’ll be up there for nine days in total. Mister has never been to my hometown, and I’m hoping to show him a proper white Christmas (one of the ones where you couldn’t leave the house even if you wanted to) and I can’t wait to show him where I grew up.

However, I will try to blog more.


I promise to try.

Diabetic moment of the day

So far ok, I think. Oh, I left the house without my insulin kit this morning and only realised when I was at the bus stop so I had to come all the way home for it. I am a twat. This isn’t news.

Episode 119. In which I discuss, in brief, the effects of Christmas on the internet

Posted in Christmas, Internet on December 14, 2010 by Betsy

The other day I went onto a website which is for customers of a particular system we use at work, I logged in and went looking for instructions on how to change one little aspect of the webview, because I am Systems Librarian and that’s my job.

This website is difficult to use. All the information is in documents that are downloadable from the website, but the documents aren’t searchable from the website. They must have hundreds of documents on there, and the only way to find the right document is to know the title and to know which section of the website they’ve put it under. This from a company who has decided on their own definition of the word ‘keyword’ that doesn’t match any definition I’ve ever heard.

I was hunting around, trying to find the document with the information I needed, from amongst all the pages full of documents, and one I clicked on, almost at random at this point because everything that was remotely logical had failed, the page loaded up and what should appear but snowflakes.  Snowflakes falling down the page from the toolbar ‘sky’.



(insert a few obscenities in there at random, you can’t go far wrong)
Please, internet, don’t do pretty pretty Christmas motifs unless you’re fairly confident your website users aren’t already tearing their hair out when they find them.

Diabetes moment of the day

Well, so far my diabetes moment has been that I had lemon curd on toast. This is cheating, cos lemon curd has sugar by the truckload. But lemon curd tastes nice, so there.

Episode 118. In which I play a blinder.

Posted in diabetes, general health on September 6, 2010 by Betsy

I had my annual diabetic hospital check-up today, which I always dread. I have to have blood taken a couple of weeks in advance so that when I show up they’ve got all their ammunition at the ready, and I always think they’re going to tell me I’m doing it wrong. Diabetes, I mean.

A few months ago I had an eye test, another annual thing, for diabetic retinopathy. If you’re diabetic then sooner or later your eyes are going to start to go, I think it’s something to do with the blood vessels in your retina weakening, you get little haemorrhages and over a period of time new blood vessels form and scar tissue builds up and your eyesight starts to deteriorate.  Anyway, it starts showing up after you’ve had diabetes for 4 or 5 years apparently, so when I had my last appointment and they saw a couple of little haemorrhages I freaked out, until it was explained to me that it’s not something that’s avoidable. Although you can make it worse by not keeping your blood sugar and blood pressure under control and smoking and things, you can’t really stop it happening at all. It seems that there’s not much to worry about, though, if it’s noticed early and you do all you can to lessen it.

That is to say, there’s not much to worry about as long as the effects, when they start to show, aren’t in this one specific area of your retina.

So guess where I went and got my stupid little haemorrhages.

After my checkup I got a letter I didn’t really understand, something about the hospital, and something about early signs of retinopathy.  The guy that took the retina pictures had showed them to me as soon as they uploaded to his laptop, so I knew this, and thought “well that’s shitty” but thought nothing more of it.

When I went to my check-up today (everything’s great, thanks for asking) the doctor asked how the eye appointment had gone. After a little to-ing and fro-ing it turned out that I’ve been referred to the Eye Hospital. For some reason the hospital keeps using my old address – they have our new address but it’s as if they got a load of labels printed up before we moved and they want to use them all up. The Eye Hospital has been sending me letters and I’ve been missing appointments, and I never even knew there was anything for me to be worrying about.

Luckily the Eye Hospital is two doors down from the Diabetes Clinic so I popped in and asked when I was expected, so I now know I’m to turn up at the end of the month for whatever happens next.

I’ve done a little research and it seems that some of these effects can be fixed by laser treatment, which feels weird. I’ve got almost perfect vision so it’s never crossed my mind that I’d ever get laser eye treatment, and the idea freaks me out. All the way out.

And there we go. I didn’t do anything to bring this on, I didn’t even get the usual lecture on how I’d need to plan in advance when (ahem) I want to get pregnant because everything’s so under control already. It seems to be sheer bad luck that the teeny tiny little symptoms happened to turn up right in the bit of my eye that decides whether or not I can see things at all.

I hope that when I start seriously losing my sight, if that should happen before I’m at an age to be expecting it anyway, I’m able to handle it like I handled the diabetes diagnosis in the first place. I’d hate to ruin it all by turning into a whiny scared little twat.

So that was my day.


Diabetic moment of the day

Have you been paying attention? Seriously though, that was it, my diabetic moment was more like a diabetic hour and a half.  Sooner or later it’ll turn into the diabetic rest of my life. But hey, I’m awesome at this diabetes lark.


Episode 117. In which I attend a professional conference and get some stuff.

Posted in day trips, home on June 11, 2010 by Betsy

Today I went to the 2010 conference of the British and Irish Association of Law Librarians.  I decided that although I’m redundant I should make an effort to keep my hand in, a lot of people are in my position right now and attending this kind of thing is bound to count for something, dedication to the field or something. In any case a friend and former colleague was giving a presentation so I decided to go along as a day delegate (the conference lasts three days in total) on the day she was speaking, for moral support.

It was very interesting. When I first arrived I bumped into another friend I didn’t know was going, which was lovely, and then I set about the stalls. All the major legal publishers and information  providers, and several minor ones, set up stalls at the BIALL conference, because it’s a great opportunity for advertising to the people who are in charge of budgets set up specifically to be spent on these products.  Because they’re so keen to stick in the mind almost everyone gives out freebies to the delegates who visit their stalls.  Of course, I accidentally ended up with quite a haul.  There are also competitions at most desks to win prizes. You stick your business card in the bowl on the table, or take a raffle ticket, or answer a question, and on the last day of the conference there are prize draws left right and centre.

Assuming my lovely Moo cards are pulled out of every draw I will be the lucky recipient of two iPads, an e-reader, an iPod nano, several luxury hampers, a few bottles of champagne and something as yet unidentified that was displayed in a Tiffany’s bag.

What I was given, what I don’t need Lady Luck to shine on me for, is three mugs, a water glass, an umbrella, several pens, two notepads, a set of highlighters, a USB memory stick, a hardback booklet of post-it notes and neon page-markers, a keyring with a shopping trolley token branded for the Incorporated Council of Law Reporting, a football shaped stress ball, some little football shaped chocolates, a keyring torch and one of those mad credit card things full of tools.

Apart from the freebies it was actually a very good day. There was a session from Integreon, an organisation which is quite controversial amongst law librarians at the moment as they are encouraging firms to outsource their information and knowledge departments. I was particularly interested in this session because although of course I don’t want anyone else to go through what I went through as regards losing their job and fearing their chosen career just doesn’t want them any more, Integreon are expanding at an exponential rate at the moment and are a potential employer for me, which makes them very attractive.  It was an interesting session, I’m not sure they will have set the minds of the nation’s law librarians at ease, but my perspective is somewhat different. I listened to their business plan and their plans for their knowledge and information departments, and I would genuinely like to work for an organisation with the plans that they outlined.

A lot of allusions were made to the current financial climate and how it’s hit law librarians, but the vast majority of comments were about having seen friends and colleagues affected. There was not the slightest suggestion of superiority about the fact that almost everybody at the conference was there on behalf of their employers but I did feel a bit out in the cold from time to time.  Just being reminded that I was basically alone in being there without employer sponsorship, without a job to go to, going there without the grace of God, or whatever.

In the next session a library manager gave a seminar on boilerplate clauses to be used in negotiating contracts and contract renewals, and I think her suggestions will be applied by everyone who attended. She spoke so much common sense and yet when you’re negotiating with a massive global corporation who provide you with a service you need to carry out your own business, it won’t necessarily cross your mind to make *them* agree to things over and above the basics. And you can’t rely on their idea of the basics covering *your* back.

After that was lunch which was provided by the conference organisers. Brown paper bags with a sandwich, an apple, a packet of crisps, a yoghurt, a bottle of water, it was very, very pleasant actually. More about that later.

In the afternoon I attended a couple more sessions, one about Knowledge Management Refocused, which was quite interesting but I didn’t quite agree with some of the speaker’s angles, which is no doubt my loss, but there we go. The final session was by my friend and a colleague of hers, on a wiki that their firm has set up to make knowledge available within the firm in as straight forward and interactive a way as possible.

All in all it was a good day. Tomorrow’s sessions look really interesting too, but I’m sure you’ll understand I’m on a budget here, one day at the conference was already my biggest expenditure of the year. Of course, the prize draws are tomorrow (Saturday) so although I’ll be at the pub by the time the draws take place, having my pre-birthday lunch of the best sausage and black pudding baguette and chips I have EVER had (Caroline of Brunswick, Ditchling Road) I’m going to be optimistic. I don’t need any of those prizes, of course I don’t. I can live without them, I’ve done alright so far. But if I won something, it would be lovely, it would be a lucky break that I think would keep me going for a little while, so I’m going to keep my fingers crossed, just in case.

In other news, my fella’s gone camping for the weekend. I knew this was happening of course, but it’s only just sunk in this evening, that I’m alone for the next 72 hours, and I am not really liking it. OK, I have the run of the house, I have the TV remote, I can watch whatever I want and I can go to bed and get up when I want without being sleeptalked at or woken up by the kettle. But I like him being here, and I’m already missing him at the thought of putting the chain on the door even though he’s not home yet.

I’m sure the time will fly by, I’m going to have a lovely lunch tomorrow with some lovely people and Sunday is always a nice quiet day.

It’ll be even nicer if I win an iPad. 😉

Diabetic moment of the day

At the conference I’d been given a little ticket saying I had special dietary needs, which I’d mentioned on my application, and I was to give the ticket to the people handing out the lunches. The little ticket didn’t say what my dietary requirement was, so I couldn’t be sure what exactly it was going to achieve, but I handed it over and was told to wait for the special lunches to be brought out.  I waited a few minutes then just handed back the energy bar that was originally in the bag (woah sugar-momma) and took the rest to sit with my friends. ‘Special Dietary Requirements’ apparently applied to vegetarians as well as diabetics and presumably the lactose intolerant and those with a peanut allergy, but without specifying the requirement on the ticket, I fail to see how the special lunches would be anything other than a paper bag full of cardboard and cleanroom air.  I’m sorry if anyone was stuck with a rubbish diabetic lunch cos I stole the ‘normal person’ lunch. I hope they got my energy bar, at least.

Episode 116. In which my sister and I are involved in a road rage incident, and come out on top.

Posted in home, people, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on March 2, 2010 by Betsy

The other weekend I sneaked up to Scotland to surprise my mum on her birthday.  I hadn’t been home since I moved to Brighton at the end of 2007, I know I’m a terrible daughter, but it’s very expensive and very time-consuming and very tiring.  But it was mum’s birthday and she wasn’t expecting me so I sneaked up for the weekend.

On Friday afternoon my sister picked me up from Dundee station and we headed off for Kirrie, to stay with my brother for the night, before sneaking into my mum’s kitchen on Saturday morning while she was at the supermarket to jump out at her doing jazz hands when she came in to put the shopping away.

So we’re hurtling along the dual carriageway, absolutely within the speed limit of course, when some cretin in a white van comes shooting up towards the back of a car on the inside lane and tries to cut us up to get around it.  My sister is an excellent driver, but she’d no intention of doing an emergency stop to let this gimp out, so she carries on at her own pace, so the fella trying to nudge in front of us starts doing a very rude hand gesture out the driver’s window.

Then he eased off and slipped back, and as he fell behind us I looked out my window at him with my WTF?! face, whilst saying aloud, “what the fuck?!” just in case he could lip-read.  He was following for a while and when the inside lane was clear he did it again, shot up the inside with his middle finger pressed against his window in what I can only assume was his own version of triumph.  He cut up the car in front of us, which promptly closed up behind him.  The car in front of him had no intention of breaking the speed limit so he found himself pretty effectively boxed in, the tailgater tailgated.

My sister and I, whilst finding it hilarious that he’d gotten himself into that situation which was probably driving him insane, were pretty astounded by this behaviour, some middle-aged workman in a white van chucking abuse at two young women in a car, for not encouraging him to drive like a dick. Crime doesn’t pay, kids, not when you’re trying to commit a crime against my sister, for she is hardcore.  This guy got off lucky.

Eventually he came out from between the cars and shot further up the inside lane, and at this point we had a pretty good brainstorming session going on about what his problem was.

“Is he having prostate trouble?”

“Maybe he’s just dying for a wee”

“Did daddy’s little girl get shouted at at work today, is the little baby upset?”

“Is daddy’s little girl crying?”

“Is it somebody’s time of the month?”

“Is daddy’s little girl having her first period?”

“Is someone feeling a little impotent today?”

At no point did the guy go out of our eyeline.  Despite driving like a mentalist, he never pulled far enough ahead to explain his behaviour.  If he was in some massive rush I could understand, I couldn’t forgive and I still wouldn’t have suggested letting the sod cut us up but I’d have understood why he was behaving that way if his wife had been rushed to hospital or his daughter was having a baby or he was Keanu in Speed or something.

Eventually we came to a point where cars drive in the outside lane to turn off to Forfar on the right.

The guy in the van clearly wasn’t familiar with the road because he got himself stuck in the right hand lane.  Nobody was letting him out.  We debated what we’d do on our way past, but in the end my little sister stayed classy.

She didn’t do the “yap yap yap” hand gesture, or hold up a piece of paper with his registration number written on it.  She just cruised on by and gave him a flirtatious little wave.

And although we saw him in the rear view mirror when he finally got out of the queue he never wanted to be in, and although we cruised along perfectly within the legal speed limit, he never caught up to us and we never saw him again.

The end.

Diabetic moment of the day

None today I don’t think, I had a salad and some boiled eggs for lunch which isn’t very carby and doesn’t demand a lot of insulin, so it was a pretty quiet insulin day.

On an unrelated note, is it possible to sprain your ankle without noticing?  My ankle keeps giving me stabbing pains but I don’t remember twisting it.  I really am some kind of special.

Episode 115. In which I cough so hard I sprain my appendix.

Posted in general health with tags , , , on December 10, 2009 by Betsy

I’m not well, and I’m going to whine about it.  This is my blog, and therefore the perfect place to do so.
OK, I’ve already whined about it all over the internet, and I actually did cough through Top Gear, but I don’t care, I stumbled across the perfect blog post title and so here we go.  You heard it here last.

Last Monday I got a tickly throat and then spent half an hour sitting on the platform at Haywards Heath freezing the very marrow in my bones cos someone claimed there was a dog on the track.  I don’t get proper colds very often, though, and I’ve only ever had flu once and I’ve had both seasonal and flu jabs so I really thought if I just got indoors and warmed up, had a good dinner and got a good night’s sleep I’d be fine.

However, I woke up on Tuesday feeling like I had slept on a park bench.  I hurt, my head was full of cold, I couldn’t think straight, so I stayed home from work, wrapped up warm and only went out to go to Boots for drugs and Co-op for lots and lots of soup and juice.

I felt a lot better on Wednesday but by Friday was really worn out and stayed home again, which was lucky because on Friday my head cold turned into a nasty cough.

Now it’s Wednesday night (technically Thursday morning) and as it turns out the nasty cough is a chest infection, and having found decreased breath sounds in my left lung, a lovely doctor at the private clinic that my employer has a contract with has given me antibiotics.

Which is all well and good, but as well as the cough, there is also the fact that I am *knackered*.

For almost a week now I’ve been sleeping in ten-minute bouts between waking myself up coughing.  Roughly every 45 minutes I have a full-on hardcore coughing fit that wakes me up fully and has me sitting up, drinking water, catching my breath.


The reason I’m still awake right now is because I’m trying to wear myself out, in the hope that maybe I’ll sleep through some of the lesser throat tickles, or maybe the sleep I get in between will be of a better quality.

Whatever, I can’t get much more tired, it’s worth a risk.

Diabetic moment of the day

I’m taking insulin like it’s going out of fashion, did you know that the active ingredients in some cough mixtures are basically just sugar?  I imagine it’s meant to coat your throat with syrupy goo to douse any tickles that might cause discomfort.  In fact it just tastes relatively pleasant and then it goes away.