Tag: opinion

Happy Shiny Migraines

I’m not after any medical advice here (seriously, if one more person tells me ‘just drink more water’, no matter how well meaning, I am going to scratch their eyes out). I’m just having a bit of a vent.

I’ve suffered migraines since about the age of 13. Sometimes they have been more frequent than not. In addition to what I’d deem a ‘classic’ migraine, I’ve also suffered even more frequently from what I’ve always termed ‘sick headaches’ – where I wake up feverish, with an awful throbbing in my left temple, aching all over and unable to keep any food down. The doctors have recently told me that these are in fact ‘mini migraines’. At this point, I’m more convinced that these are what my more ‘classic’ migraines turn in to when I’m unable to beat them at the pass due to missing all the signs (sunspots, etc) due to being asleep.

Typically, when I get one of these, I’m out of action for at least a day – it’s approximately 12 hours until I’m able to keep any food or drink down, and about all I can do is sleep in a dark room and try to keep sips of water down. The next day I generally feel like I’ve been hit by a truck.

Anyways, I’ve been getting these ‘mini migraines’ (and classic migraine symptoms) more often in recent months. The doctor prescribed me some beta blockers, which helped a bit – but I’ve just spent the last 2 days out of action, as the vomiting did not stop.

On the doctors orders, I’ve been keeping detailed food diaries, sleep diaries, headache diaries. I’ve even added exercise diaries to this (as I figured I’d try to spin a positive on all this, and see if living a healthier lifestyle could help at all). Over the course of years, I’ve had blood tests, various tablets prescribed, cut down/cut out the more obvious things to no effect.

I’m at the end of my rope. I woke up this morning, on day 3 of having kept nothing down and feeling genuinely concerned that I was going to have to get myself to A&E for assistance in rehydrating. Fear not – I popped to the chemist, and a mix of anti-nausea and dioralyte seems to have fixed the vomiting issue for now. What’s really gotten me is how todays trip to the doctors went. My beta blocker dosage has been upped, some dissolve in the mouth pain killer tablets have been prescribed, and all my carefully maintained diaries have been completely ignored. Oh, but I have left the surgery with *more* print outs on the common causes of and treatment of migraines. Because I haven’t spent years looking at these kind of things, as I obviously love losing days of my life. Thanks.

I hate to admit it, but I burst into tears in the doctors surgery. This blog post is coming from a place of rage and pain, even while I acknowledge that migraines are bloody difficult to diagnose the cause of. But I can’t help but feel I’m being fobbed off, and after 2 days of sitting in a dark house, unable to keep food and water down, I’m feeling incredibly fed up and just done. 2 days off work, another day having to tell the bloke not to come around because I’m not up to cooking/eating/socialising. The doctor has told me that migraines are a chronic condition, and sometimes there is just no diagnosable underlying cause. Which could well be true, since I guess I haven’t keeled over and died from this yet.

I’m trying not to be too down. I’ve been back to google, and saw a recommendation to download Migraine Buddy, which I’ve done. It asks for similar information that I’ve already been logging, and seems to have the ability to correlate patterns, which could help me to self-diagnose my triggers. It looks like it could be really useful.

My main issue with it can be summed up in the below screenshot:

Screenshot_2017-06-14-11-35-20
Congratulating me on starting a migraine diary hits the wrong note, I fear. I now feel stabby.

This is far too happy and fluffy. Migraines are not to be congratulated. This shit is taking days of my life from me. STOP BEING SO HAPPY AND SHINY IN THE FACE OF MY PAIN, YOU STUPID PHONE. *

* I may not be in the best frame of mind today. I apologise. No phones were harmed in the making of this post.

The Politics Post

Today is General Election day in the UK. I’ve already been out and voted. In fact, I was eager enough to do so that I was a couple of minutes early, and had to actually be socialable and chat to the folks in the polling station until they were allowed to give me my ballot paper.

“I’m not normally one to discuss politics, but …” is something that is all too familiar on my social network feeds today. This is usually followed up with a proclamation that the poster has voted, then a statement about how everybody else needs to go and vote, to finish up with a sly (or in some cases, outright blatant) comment that is designed to shame anyone who voted in a way that they didn’t.

I’m not going to do that. I am proud to be able to say that I have friends across the entire political spectrum; many who are very vocal in their support. I’m comfortable enough in my own political beliefs that I see no need to deride them for theirs – even when I strongly disagree. More to the point – the idea of only listening to people who share my own politics is very uncomfortable to me. To put it bluntly – if I exist in an echo chamber, I don’t see how I can form an informed opinion. If I never challenge my convictions by listening with an open mind, then can I really have any faith in my convictions?

More importantly – if the strongest power I have as a voter is the ability to change my mind, how can that ever happen if I don’t listen to all sides of the argument?

Enough of that, though. I am straying from the point I’m wanting to make in this post.

Those of us in the UK live in a democracy. We are lucky to do so. That did not come for free. It may seem like an old cliche, but people have fought and died to give us a vote – the ability to stand up and have our say. There are countries out there were people like you and I do not have the chance to vote.

I don’t care how you vote. I only care that you do. So, if you are eligible to vote in the UK today, I really hope that you are going to pop out today and do so. You have until 10pm.

The fact it is raining is not an excuse. There was once a woman who deliberately got trampled by a horse in her fight for the right to vote. Google Emily Davison if you’re curious. Get an umbrella, get down to the polling station, and be counted.

Find all the candidates uninspiring? Better to spoil your ballot paper than to not vote at all. If enough people did that instead of not even showing, well … I can imagine it would be a better form of protest than not even bothering.

For those of you who have read this to the end – thanks for reading. I do hope you’re voting, or have already done so. If you’re not voting but are eligible to do so, please have a word with yourself. The cost of our democracy has been high. Just because that cost has not been paid in your lifetime, it does not mean that the cost was not real. Don’t waste the price that was paid for this.

Mobile Phone Sadness

Last year, I accidentally nuked my trusty windows phone. Along with my electronic cigarette.

I managed this feat of ineptitude by first plugging in my phone to a newer micro USB cable and mains plug. Finding it odd that my phone immediately rebooted itself after this, in my infinite wisdom I plugged in my electronic cigarette.

Yup, I am occasionally incredibly dumb.

A flash of blue light later, I soon after realised that what I had managed to do was fry the micro USB port on both my phone and my e cig. Meaning that I had lost the ability to charge the battery in both the phone and my e cig.

Oops.

So, long story short – I was forced to get a new phone. Having endured years of sneers along the lines of ‘Oh, a windows phone?’, and ‘You should get a *proper* phone, like an Android one’, I but the bullet and got myself a Galaxy J3.

About all I have gained from this is a cheaper monthly bill (as I switched tariffs), and access to a greater selection of mobile applications. Everything else? Sorry, I find it lacking in comparison to my old Nokia Lumia.

I found the Windows UI easier to manage – though this is a small hurdle, and I very quickly picked up how to effectively use my new phone.

Other niggles – occasionally, my new phone just refuses to connect to a wireless network it already knows. Or to any. I have to reboot it to fix this.

The Microsoft Health app is constantly pinging my Microsoft Band now – resulting in the battery life of the band being half of what it used to be. I have gone from having to charge it once a day to twice.

I have had to install an application that cleans up all the junk left behind by normal phone usage. I never had this issue on my old Windows Phone.

The major issue I have is how the Android system manages its storage. Granted, a bit of research here would have had me buying a phone with more space on it.

Android has the concept of internal and external storage (so, phone and card). This would be fine. Except the Android OS is actually quite clunky. It insists on having applications on it that I have no use for – yet I’m not allowed to uninstall them. Like Microsoft Office mobile apps.

I am at a computer all day, every day. If I need to use any Office application, I will use my computer. Not my phone. I use dropbox, not one drive. Yet these applications are sitting there, taking up precious internal storage space, not being used, and not allowing me to uninstall them. I have 8GB of internal storage.

What would be nice is if I could move these to my 64GB SD card, along with any app I install. But no. I’m not allowed to do this either.

Even though I have jumped through various hoops to try and make all new down loads go to my rather under-utilised 64GB available storage, Android insists on downloading new content to the internal storage. Of which there is very little left. Only certain applications will allow themselves to be moved to the external storage.

To add insult to injury – any time an app that I have managed to get stored on my SD card updates, it gets moved back over to my internal storage without letting me know. I am now in the habit of checking my SD apps after every update to move them back to my external storage. And even better – I can only move one at a time. And even the small apps take an age to move over.

From reading around this, I need to do 3 things – have my phone running in developer mode, root the phone (and invalidate the warranty), and do a mixture of hacking it myself and installing an internal to external application just to have some control over where my applications will be stored.

This is ridiculous. I never had this problem with my Windows Phone (which also had very limited internal storage). It had ‘Storage Sense’ – which let you pick and choose what got stored where. Such a simple concept.

This level of not having control over my own device is also the text book reason for why I do not use Apple products.

So, to all the snobs out there who mocked my usage of my Windows phone, and that Android is a ‘proper’ phone in comparison. Just no. I’ve used both, from a point of no prejudice, and while the Windows phone apps are lacking in comparison – at least the Windows phone let me have a choice in what is installed on it, and where it is actually installed. Android – I am really unimpressed, and will likely be back to using a windows phone once the contract on this one has run out.

The bottom line is this – I haven’t been able to play Pokemon Go because I apparently lack the storage space due to needing/wanting the apps I have installed. Sad times ūüė¶

Argos update the Third.

Yup, two blog posts in one day!

So, I just received this from the wonderful folks at Argos.

reimbursementletter

So, in a nutshell Рthey offered to reimburse me for my day of  annual leave, after they rescheduled my order. And they are now retracting that offer because their rescheduling my delivery means that I should have anticipated taking a day of annual leave.

I guess they realised that an hour of my time is in fact quite expensive.

So, I’ve emailed them. I’ll also be calling.

Dear Argos,

Please see the attached letter I have just received through the post.

This is unacceptable – I arranged for delivery on Saturday the 19th¬†through your website. I originally arranged this for a Saturday because I didn’t want to have to use annual leave for this.¬†It was then *you* who called and rescheduled for the 21st. Me, just wanting the bed to arrive in time for family to visit, reluctantly accepted that I would have to book annual leave for this.

I strongly suggest you review this. You are attempting to claim that that I would have had to anticipate taking a day off for this? That is completely incorrect. Thankfully, I have all previous automated emails, receipts, etc that will back this.

It’s bad enough that I have had such a terrible experience with your company – for you to then offer reimbursement earlier in this email chain, then attempt to tell me that I should have anticipated taking a day off after you rescheduled the delivery day is quite frankly unacceptable.

Sort it out.

Just for extra fun, I’m organised enough that I have kept all prior emails to this. Here’s a screen shot of the email I received on the 5th (when I actually made this order):
receipt
But no. I should have anticipated having to take a day of annual leave when I deliberately arranged delivery for a weekend when I don’t have to work.
Quite.
EDIT – UPDATE
One angry phone call and call back later, apparently it is not in their policy to reimburse for the first day off taken, and the person who told me this in the first place is apparently in trouble!
I find this pretty unacceptable. I’ve already sent details of this shenanigans to BBC Watchdog. Trading Standards next.
EDIT The Second
I’ve sent another email.

Hello again Argos.

Your below email is incorrect. After receiving it, I briefly panicked, thinking that I would be unavailable to hand over the items for collection. Thankfully, my manager is understanding and allowed me to work the rest of the day from home.

I did have cause to phone you today though, after you decided that my time is apparently worth too much for you to give the reimbursement for loss of earnings that you initially offered. I was told that the bed was indeed booked in for collection today, but you were unable to give me any times. So, I was transferred to your collections department, who let me know that the collection was not in fact booked in for today.

Thanks for wasting more of my time.

I have now been told it is booked in for collection on Monday 5th December between 12 and 6.

At this point, I am not holding my breath. Your service is absolutely shambolic. This is now a second day when I have been told to expect some kind of service, and I have had to chase things up with you when said service fails to transpire.

If I have to arrange delivery to your warehouse myself, I’ll be sending you the bill. I want this bed out of my house, and I want my refund.

I have already submitted this whole farce to BBC Watchdog and Trading Standards.

Oh, Argos. You are *killing* me.

I’m actually laughing at the ridiculousness of this. I’m still quite angry, but you really couldn’t make this up. How is it even possible to be this bad at customer service?

Do they have a gremlin invasion at Argos HQ? Really bad IT? Whatever is causing it, the left hand blatantly doesn’t know what the right is doing.

So, an update. Everything was resolved, rejoice!

Ok, I tell a lie. Nothing seems to have been resolved. I sent them the following email on Wednesday the 30th – if you remember my previous post about Argos, you’ll know that this is now after the time frame in which I was supposed to be contacted by their collections/refund department:

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am writing once again as I have still not been contacted by your collections department to arrange a pick up of the most-of-bed you managed to eventually deliver Рthe order number is  ********.
I’d have thought that complaining once about the complete lack of communication would have been enough – but from looking at the complaints on your facebook page, this issue seems to be endemic.
I also took the liberty of checking out the bed I initially ordered on your website – for a bed that I was told on Sunday was out of stock, meaning I’d have to wait 2 weeks to have an *entire* bed delivered to get the correct part (which, added to the lack of call back on Sunday prompted my request for collection and refund) – I find that your website is still advertising the bed as in stock, and available for delivery within 5 days! I even managed to add it to my shopping cart! Your advertised delivery timescale is a blatant lie – in fact, the very same lie that had me ordering this bed in the first place.
Going by some of the complaints on your facebook page, I am beginning to get serious concerns that I will ever see a refund. If the process of collection and refund does not begin today, I’ll be escalating this as far as possible. I will email a formal complaint to your CEO, I will be in touch with the Citizens Advice Beareau, and I will be in touch with Trading Standards to report the mis-representation of your stock levels on your website and your reluctance to begin the refund process. Just to ensure that there is a full representation of facts here, I have also taken pictures of the entire issue (see the attached), and also a picture showing that the useless pieces of wood you sent me are in good order, propped up in my living room.
I am down ¬£300 in time for christmas. That is money that I’d rather see spent on my own family and friends than sitting in your bank account.¬†I have ordered a bed from Bensons, who tell me that they will deliver a bed on the 23rd December. If not for the misrepresentation of your stock levels and delivery estimates in the first place, I’d no doubt already be the happy owner of a king size bed as I would have ordered from elsewhere. It’s unfortunate that I now do not have a bed for any visiting family to sleep on when they visit in the run up to christmas. So, thanks!
I have already shared my experience with friends and family, along with a strong recommendation¬†to avoid doing business with you in the future. I’ll be continuing to document this process as I take this further.
Please let me know when I can expect your collections team to actually pick up the pieces of wood taking up space in my house. At this rate, Bensons will no doubt have delivered their bed before your team actually get around to this, which will no doubt give the internet a good laugh!
Oh, the delivery charge finally got refunded. Thanks. I’ve yet to hear about being reimbursed for my loss of earnings on the 21st. I posted the required information first class delivery on the 23rd, so you should have received it by now. I’m now realising that I should have sent this recorded delivery, as you’ve no doubt managed to ‘not receive’ your mail.
I also left them a shorter note in a similar vein on their facebook page. One of the Argos minions did eventually respond asking for my order number, then I was back to listening to crickets.
I did debate just waiting to see if I would get any form of contact – but I was quite angry. I decided that sitting in stewing over it was not the fun or mature option here, so I phoned up their support. Again.
The lady I spoke to actually seemed to have a clue. After commiserating with the situation, she attempted to set up a collection of the bed for Friday between 12 and 6pm. In the process of this, she realised that the collections request was not going through, as something had gone wrong with my order. She had to phone me back – and she did! First person in this entire fiasco to phone back when she said she would!
She didn’t have great news for me though – due to the technical issues with the order, she would have to re-raise it, and she’d be able to sort out a collection date within 2 days. She promised to get in touch on Friday to let me know what was going on. Fabulous!
Well, we’re now on Friday. No phone call yet, but I did receive this email:

Thank you for your email regarding order number *********.

I was very concerned to learn of your situation and would like to apologise for the obvious disappointment caused.

Your order is stating that the collection is arranged for today 2nd December.

I can see by the notes on your order that one of my colleagues has sent a letter to you regarding your loss of earnings explaining what information we need. Once we receive this we will happily look into this for you.

On behalf of Argos Ltd, I am sorry for the disappointment and inconvenience this matter has caused you.

Erm…
Well, I just had to try and phone up to see what was going on. I was at work, but figured a few minutes to figure things out wouldn’t be too bad. Apparently, there is a loooong hold queue today. Not a surprise, given the state of their facebook page. So, I opted to leave another message on their facebook wall, attempt a live chat, and I’ve also sent another email:

While that is almost good news, the last I heard about collection for this order was that the order would have to be re-raised so that collection would happen. The last person I spoke to attempted to arrange collection for today, but the system would not allow it. She also told me that she would be in touch with me today to let me know what is going on.

As such, I am at work today, and I have an after school event which will be going on until later this evening. I am not going to be in. I have no one else who can be in on my behalf.

I’ve tried to phone, but was told I would be on hold for too long – I can’t waste working hours on this. I attempted the live web chat.

What is going on?!?

Since then, I am back to listening to crickets. On the off chance that I may actually witness some collections people turn up at my door, I have arranged to work from home for the rest of the day. Thankfully, I can work remotely and I have an understanding manager, plus I only live about 5 minutes away from the office. That said, I estimate I’m only going to be in until 5pm. At this point, it is the best I can do to try and get the most of bed out of my living room.

At this point, I have decided that I will be emailing the CEO once this is getting to a point where it looks like it is almost sorted, and I’ll definitely be giving Trading Standards a call. Because this bloody bed is still showing up as available to be delivered within 5 days.

I would have liked this to be the final blog post about all of this, but I suspect that this series of posts is going to go on much longer. Apologies for that – normal programming will resume eventually, namely where I start to talk about my new-found Minecraft addiction.

* Note – all emails have names removed to protect the guilty.
EDIT – UPDATE
So, after phoning Argos to complain about the lack of compensation they promised, I was also transferred to the collections people (after being told by the first lady I spoke to that collection was booked in for today).
Turns out collection isn’t booked in for today, and no one knows why I received an email telling me it was. But don’t worry, we’ll definitely collect the bed on Monday between 12 and 6!
I’ll bloody well believe it when I see it.

The cost of a roof.

In preparation for moving house, I’ve started getting all my financials in order. As part of this, I’ve been updating my spendings spread sheet. For people who’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll already know that I keep this updated to a rather detailed level.

I’ve been keeping my spreadsheet since March 2009. According to my spreadsheet, I have spent ¬£60,158 on rent alone. The actual *real* figure for how much money I have spent on rent is actually higher, since I had been living in rented accommodation for a number of years before I started tracking my spending on a spreadsheet.

¬£60,158. That doesn’t include household bills, car bills, food, etc. That is literally the cost of keeping just a roof over my head since 2009. It stings a little more when I think of rent payments as ‘dead money’, since it wasn’t going towards buying a place of my own, or towards paying off some kind of debt or saving.

Granted, I live in an expensive part of the country. I also made a choice to live on my own for some of the last 7 years, which will always be a more expensive than renting a room in a house.

That said – rental costs are only getting higher. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to now be in a position where I can actually throw money at a mortgage. In the years leading up to this point, I remember the feeling of helplessness as I watched houses only become more expensive and seemingly out of reach.

It is thanks to a mixture of hard work, good fortune, and all too sensible decisions that have gotten me to this point. I can’t help but feel slightly sneeped when I look at that ¬£60,158 sum and think that would look much nicer put against a mortgage payment. Or a deposit.

There have been many news articles that cover this kind of thing in recent years, so I have little new to add to it. House ownership is becoming an unachievable dream for all too many – in a country where house ownership is seen as a thing that should be something that happens when you reach adulthood.

There’s no easy fix. But house ownership is not exactly the badge of adulthood that it was once considered – instead, it’s becoming more of a badge of good fortune. There’s something pretty broken about that, in my eyes.

Trolley Rage

This has been a frustrating week. I have encountered various scenarios where life isn’t going quite as expected, or neatly following the carefully laid out plans in my head.

Of course, this is just life being life. I’ve just never been able to deal that well with curve balls. I like my routines. I like things behaving *properly*. This has been a week that has thrown me for a loop. I am generally more irritable and distracted from the things I should be focusing on as a result.

That brings me to the icing on the cake. The straw that broke the camels back.

The supermarket where I do my weekly shop has moved all of the aisles around.

I get why supermarkets do this. They like to have their customers meandering around completely lost, viewing all the available merchandise, and potentially making an impulse purchase. All this does for me is serve to irritate.

I am the kind of person who makes a shopping list. I do not deviate from it. In addition, I have my shopping list carefully ordered by aisle, so I can get in an out as quickly as possible.

Imagine my sense of outrage when I went to pick up a bottle of Pepsi, and instead found myself facing packets of crisps. Tragically, this was the first moment I realised things had moved, since I was existing in my own head already seething about all the various other things that haven’t gone quite according to my own expectations this week alone.

I went to find coffee. That now lives where all the wine and spirits *used* to live.

Two of my major caffeine supplies have been moved. Seriously. I think it was lucky that no one died when I was doing my shop. It was a brave move on the part of the super market planners. Frankly, I’m amazed that there haven’t been blood baths caused by these kinds of impromptu switch arounds. What kind of nutcases move the caffeine?

The final insult to this already¬†grievous¬†injury was realising that all the goods in the chillers have been shifted around to. My usual quick 5 minute rush doing my weekly shop was delayed further as it took me another 3 minutes to find where the Philadelphia snack pots now live. If I hadn’t been so irritated, I suspect that a calmer mind may have found these at least 2 minutes earlier.

I realise this has turned into something of a rant, and there are way worse problems in the world. I guess I just want to shout out that I’d very much like to smack supermarket planners upside the head with a dead fish¬†a few times. Although they would have plenty of time to run and hide in the amount of time it would take for me to find where the fish are now situated in their newly shifted around store.

Grr.